Over a month ago I was interviewed for a piece in MEL Magazine about Muslims and the Manosphere.
The journalist, Hussein Kesvani, and I spoke over email and Twitter about Becoming the Alpha Muslim (BTAM) and related topics.
I put a lot of time and detail into my answers to his questions – just under 2,500 words.
It’s quality fracking content and I don’t want to waste it, so I asked his permission to share it with you all.
When the article was published on MEL I was a little surprised at the angle Kesvani took,
I told him precisely the opposite.
It looks like Kesvani only has a basic understanding of the Manosphere and its workings.
Kesvani manages to conflate a diverse, loosely affiliated (if at all) collection of websites, blogs, and communities under one term – “Men’s Rights Activist.” (MRA)
Though Azeez’s teaching may dovetail with MRA ideology (or as he refers to it The Red Pill or TRP, named for the MRA hub on Reddit)…
This is a blunder.
There are several distinct subreddits for Manosphere communities – /r/mensrights, /r/theredpill, /r/mgtow, etc. – and they are vastly different in their ideas, audiences, and content.
When we spoke, I asked him how much he knows about the different movements within the Manosphere. Emphasis mine.
I know about MRAs, the various subsets of the pick-up scene and the more popular schools of thought there. But if I’m honest, not an incredible lot. I’ve generally been interested in how the idea of being a man has changed because of conversations online, particularly within religious circles. Obviously, lots of conversations about gender take place in Muslim circles – the event I went to was the first overt workshop which actually addressed masculinity. Though, I think it’s because of Muslim men who are having problems getting married.
The finished article gave me the impression his research was only surface-level.
Kesvani attempts to add credibility by quoting an Islamic Studies academic, Amanullah De Sondy, author of The Crisis of Islamic Masculinities.
De Sondy also does not sound like he knows anything about men’s rights movements or the manosphere.
Emerging men’s rights groups may be a reaction felt by those who feel insecure about their position in society — including Muslim men, who, maybe felt they had fixed patriarchal positions that are now on the verge of disappearing. That’s probably really scary for them.
A) It sounds like he is speculating
B) That’s not why MRA exists
On top of all that the other interviewee, Abu Muawiyah, conflated these movements with Islam by analogy.
It was like the start of a kind of Muslim MGTOW movement.
Islam is the ultimate red pill.
Adding to the reader’s confusion.
Still, I am surprised Kesvani made these errors despite my spending several hours explaining things to him.
In all likelihood he had an idea where he wanted the story to go and ran with it, trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
In any case, you now have this blog post to clear up any confusion.
Here is my interview with Kesvani, in full, with minor edits for clarity.
Enjoy this Muslim’s guide to the Manosphere.
Why did you set up the website, who is your target audience, and why do you think it is necessary?
The idea for BTAM was marinating in my head for the past year or so.
I noticed that there was very little content online targeting Muslim men and their needs.
Most Islamic websites offer general advice and there are several websites targeting Muslim women.
If content is published for Muslim men it is invariably in a berating, lecturing tone – “get your s*** together, Muslim men.”
I also noticed that on the most popular Islamic websites women formed a majority of the writers and editors.
With women comes Feminism, especially in the West.
I validated the idea by doing an online survey, which required respondents to state what kind of content they would like to see.
Sure enough, there are many men, like me, who think the language of our Islamic discourse is ‘off.’
Something is not right.
BTAM targets millennial Muslim men who are raised and live in a globalized World where Western popular culture is dominant.
Most of my readers are from the U.S., U.K., and Canada.
These men have been raised in cultures where ideologies like Secular Liberalism, Postmodernism, and Feminism are the dominant narrative, and this negatively affects the way they understand and practice Islam.
BTAM is essential because as a global community Muslims are not knowledge ‘producers.’
We are knowledge ‘consumers.’
Given that, Muslims consume the ideas produced and propagated by the West through its culture, often uncritically.
Andrew Breitbart said, “politics is downstream from culture.”
So, what happens when Muslims absorb Western culture and the ideologies that dominate it uncritically?
Our own ideology changes, and not for the better.
This is especially true when most young Muslims (millennial and younger) are increasingly LESS religiously literate – just today I was talking to someone online who thinks you can be a Muslim even if you don’t believe ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’
Another reason BTAM is essential – just as Western popular culture is propagated, Western interpretations of Islam are propagated as ‘enlightened’ understandings of Islam.
It is the English-speaking scholars of the West who are popular with young Muslims, celebrities the World over, because of the way their material is produced, propagated, and consumed.
Take American Muslims for example.
American Muslims are the Moors of Spain after the fall of Muslim rule – if the Moors had a superiority complex about their understanding/practice of Islam and had the ability to transmit this understanding Worldwide through Youtube videos, websites, conferences, and seminars.
I mentioned American Muslims specifically because I don’t see the same trend among British Muslims – if it does exist, it’s not at the scale of the former.
The final reason why BTAM is necessary – Feminism.
Islam says a lot about gender dynamics, roles, and responsibilities through the Quran, Sunnah, and our Sacred Tradition.
Feminism is diametrically opposed to Islamic teachings in this regard.
I wrote an article about it a few months ago which you might want to read – Islamic Feminist? Oxymoron Level: Over 9000!!!
Ultimately Feminism denies what we Muslims call fitrah – man’s innate disposition.
Here as well, the ‘knowledge consumer’ comes into play.
What are our sources of Truth?
Divine scripture or a postmodern ideology that amounts to gender sectarianism?
In any case, not only is Feminism not compatible with Islam on an ideological basis, it doesn’t even make sense according to biological or sociological fact.
BTAM exists to tell millennial Muslim men:
It’s OK to be a masculine, Muslim man. Embrace it. Revel in it. It is God’s decree.
It is also an attempt to synthesize a culture that is unapologetically Islamic, not watered-down to appease non-Muslims and propagate it to those people that need it.
Through propagating this culture, I hope to change the ideology/politics of wayward Muslims.
How has the experience of your users been? Do you have any testimonials or anything?
The site is only a few months old.
I don’t have any products that would produce testimonials.
I do have a free 5-day email course that over 100 people have signed up for, and the response has been very good.
The course teaches the five most important lessons I’ve learned in 10 years of studying Islam informally and formally – it’s called “The Alpha Muslim Mindset.”
The feedback on the course is all positive, but the real benefit is that it lets me do research into what problems are common among my target audience (procrastination, lack of motivation, lack of vision for the future.)
I have dozens of pieces of feedback from readers and listeners, positive and negative, from Muslims and non-Muslims.
Most feedback is positive, but there are always haters.
The haters are usually people who have drunk the Feminist Koolaid.
A lot of Muslims, even though they don’t identify as Feminists or say they believe in Feminism, have internalized Feminist ideas and language either consciously or unconsciously.
Can you tell me, or give me more of an insight into The Red Pill’s Muslim community? How big is it?
It’s usually abbreviated as TRP (The Red Pill) so I’ll use that in my answers.
I don’t believe there is such a thing.
Muslim men do consume the material but there is no specific Muslim community among TRPers.
BTAM is not a TRP site.
“Becoming the Alpha Muslim” is an aspirational brand.
“Alpha Muslim” is a play on words.
It is a reference to our human ideal, Prophet Muhammad, who is the criterion all Muslims are obliged to follow regardless of gender.
“Becoming” signifies action and the fact that we will never fully realize the Prophetic character even though we continuously strive for it.
BTAM is every Muslim’s mental, physical, and spiritual journey to Ihsan.
My readers will never find anything on the site that violates mainstream Islamic teachings.
Is there a conflict between Red Pill ideas for Muslims? Like, with many Red Pill forums I see a lot of anti-Islam rhetoric and anti-Muslim sentiment often associated with Trump.
Muslims can’t be ‘Red Pill.’
TRP is anti-anything that seeks to control the actions and resources of men (religion included.)
Mainstream Red-Pillers are Machiavellian hedonists who want to live life on their own terms.
Game – which is the sexual strategy aspect of TRP – is mostly used for fornication.
However, since TRP is a praxeology and not an ideology – there are TRPers of various faiths.
A famous example is acclaimed science fiction writer Vox Day, who is a devout Christian.
TRP just happens to follow principles that can be found within Islam.
A common discussion on Red Pill forums is the ‘Red Pill-ness’ of religious scripture like the Bible.
Ultimately, it goes back to the fitrah discussion.
Muslims don’t need TRP to tell us that men and women are a certain way and should behave a certain way for society to function properly.
We have the Quran, Sunnah, and Sacred Tradition.
TRP is the act of men rediscovering these millennia-old truths after several decades of Feminist indoctrination.
There is a subset of TRP called Married Red Pill.
Married men apply TRP strategy and tactics to maintain a happy home, an obedient wife, well-adjusted children, and sexual fulfillment.
Here the focus is on leadership – being and acting like the ‘Captain of your ship.’
Married Red Pill is pretty close to Islamic teachings on how a man should manage his family.
At its core, TRP is about self-improvement to become the sort of man society values.
They train their bodies, eat well, learn social skills, improve their finances, learn how to dress well and groom themselves, etc.
TRPers are trying to be the man men want to be and women want to be with.
All communities and peoples have a tradition of self-improvement.
TRP is one manifestation of that.
I have seen anti-Muslim sentiment on these forums – mainstream TRPers are anti-religion in general – but when Muslims post on these forums it is a non-issue.
Remember, TRP is a praxeology.
It’s ideologically neutral.
Also, while they do criticize Islam, I have seen many TRPers praise Muslim men and Muslim communities because we ‘don’t break frame’ and we ‘have female hypergamy under control.’
Part of the anti-Muslim sentiment comes from the fact that Western, white TRPers are afraid of Muslim men – we are the personification of ‘Alpha’ – conquering their weak, Feminized, ‘Beta’ societies.
Support for Trump comes from the fact that he’s the consummate Alpha Male – a man’s man.
What are the biggest issues facing Muslim men right now, in your opinion?
The biggest issue facing Muslims is that mainstream/normative/orthodox Islam is at odds with the dominant culture and the ideologies it promotes.
This manifests itself in various ways.
How it relates to Muslim men, is that the gender dynamics prescribed in Islam are now thought of as misogynistic.
Muslim men who act like men, in line with their fitrah, are thought of as exhibiting ‘toxic masculinity.’
Muslim men are routinely castigated in our Islamic discourse as being misogynists, abusers, wife beaters, and marital rapists.
And that’s just from within the community!
But here’s the problem with these claims – they are all argument by anecdote.
Some Imam, scholar or preacher might hear a bunch of complaints from women (some of them lies) and then, due to the Availability Heuristic, conclude that domestic violence is an epidemic in our communities.
The truth is we don’t have reliable statistics on these issues for the Muslim community.
What we do have, are longitudinal studies on nations as a whole, and they show the opposite of what is being claimed.
That it is women who are more likely to be violent and abusive.
Assuming that these studies are a representative sample – the results apply to Muslims too.
The other big problem is that we men are raised to be stoic.
To take our lumps and not complain.
Being stoic is a good thing for a man to be, but not at the expense of our own mental and physical well-being.
Just like many non-Muslim women, Muslim women make false accusations of rape, violence, child abuse etc. against their husbands to get favorable divorce settlements.
Settlements that have no basis in our Shariah.
I am in touch with some of these men and I plan on writing an article about it in the near future.
No one is talking about these issues.
What should Muslim communities do to solve this problem? Is there a role mosques should be playing?
The first thing Muslim scholars and preachers (at the mosque and at the individual level) should focus on is teaching mainstream Islamic Creed (Aqidah.)
We have all these problems because Muslims are not religiously literate enough to distinguish ideas that are compatible with Islam from those that aren’t.
If Muslims knew their Creed the way they ought to, people wouldn’t even need to refute Feminism and other anti-Islamic ideas.
The second is that Muslim scholars and preachers need to openly state and affirm Islamic teachings on gender roles and responsibilities.
E.g. the second part of an Eid khutbah is supposed to be for exhorting the women (because this is one of the few times all the women are out in a congregation) – I can’t remember the last time I heard a khateeb say as little as “O women, Fear Allah.”
A few scholars do make attempts, to their credit, but we don’t support them enough.
The third thing is that we need to start dealing with cold, hard facts.
We need reliable statistics from trustworthy Muslim sources – not statistics from sources that have a liberal or Feminist agenda – on issues that affect men and women (e.g. domestic violence.)
My vision for BTAM is that it becomes too big to ignore.
Muslim scholars and preachers will have no choice but to address these issues openly.
I have already noticed that the mere existence of my website is making a lot of people uncomfortable.
From your experience, what attracts Muslim men to the work you do? have you noticed any trends or the type of Muslim man who’s attracted to the whole Alpha Muslim ideal?
People like me.
I’m not the only one who has noticed the anti-male shift in our Islamic discourse.
And Muslim men aren’t stupid.
No matter how much mental gymnastics you do to get a Feminist interpretation of Scripture you will always have to deal with dozens of unequivocal verses and hadith on gender roles
Are there any other prominent Muslims who are known in the manosphere?
None. Not even me. Remember, my site is just 3 months old.
How have women reacted to your work, actually?
Some women understand what I’m doing, some are uncomfortable, some hate it.
My work has been published in Feminist publications, and I’ve appeared on a Feminist’s podcast.
Some people are open to discussion, even if we disagree – and I enjoy working with those people.
I’m trying to promote more discussion actually – we Muslims are in a state where we try to silence people we disagree with – it’s not healthy.
Who do you look to or enjoy reading/watching in this whole space?
I don’t have a particular favorite.
The writers I read most often:
Some other good websites:
I also like reading Janet Bloomflied AKA Judgy Bitch and A Voice for Men for academic material to deal with Feminism.
Where are the best forums of discussion for you? I assume mosques probably aren’t the best arenas, but do you find more comfort speaking to people online?
Well, all my activity is online.
Mosques are for more important things like teaching the people their religion (even though that is what I am doing.)
I do have at least two Muslim scholars reading my material and they approve of it in general.
They may disagree with my tone and some details, but they correct me when I make mistakes and I update my content to reflect that.
The interview ends here.