Nouman Ali Khan is a prominent Muslim cleric, and founder of Bayyinah, a religious training organization based in Texas, which he established with the help of Abdul Nasir Jangda, a prominent Deobandi cleric. On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Khan enjoys hundreds of thousands of social media followers. And in 2013, he was named as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.
Although Nouman Ali Khan has been portrayed as a moderate, open-minded Muslim, a look through some of his sermons reveal extremist rhetoric. The following sections highlight Khan's hatred of homosexuality, his justification of sex slavery and domestic violence against women, and his support for whipping prostitutes, pornographic actors and adulterers.
On top of this violent rhetoric, Khan has documented ties with notorious extremists such as the Indian televangelist, Zakir Naik, who has been banned from entering Canada and the U.K., as well as the infamous anti-gay cleric, Ismail Menk.
Permitting Physical Abuse of Women
Khan claims that physical abuse of women is acceptable if she is committing adultery and fails to show subservience to God. Khan adds that anyone who disagrees with the Quranic instruction that ostensibly permits this violence, is committing a "crime" against Islam:
"Hitting women, dude, and justifying it from Quran, because you know the ayah [Quranic verse] says, 'and hit them'. ... I believe every single ayah is perfect. Every single ayah could not be any better than it is. It's the most beautiful gift of Allah on this earth. No ayah should be considered a curse. No ayah should be considered negative or, you know, why is that here? ... So protecting the integrity of this ayah, to me, is like, fundamental because if, you know Muslim women, many Muslim women I've met have a problem with this ayah and their concern is legitimate. But to have a problem with an ayah and you're Muslim...there needs to be something resolved here. Because you can have, 'I have a problem understanding this ayah', which is a little bit different from... actually no, it's a world different from, 'I have a problem with this ayah.' That's a crime."
"You know the ayah, it has a contrast. Here are good women and here are women that have an uprising, which means they do the opposite of what good women do. Good women are subservient to Allah. This woman has now started defying Allah. Good women are loyal to their husbands. This woman is now what? Cheating on her husband."
"And so Allah says, 'Give them advice.' Listen, something's happening. Why are you going out late at night with make up on or what's going on? Tell me what's going on. I need to know. Try to council them. Doesn't work. You tried it regularly, didn't work. Leave the bed, abandon them, don't sleep with them. You're disgusted by what you know is, the fear is growing, you haven't seen anything but the fear is growing. It's gotten really, really bad. Now it gets to the worst case. The worst case is, she's actually caught. He sees her with another man, something crazy. And he sees this and he loses his mind and what does he do? He hits her. By the way let's take Muslim out of this. Some dude, not even married, with his girlfriend, he sees another man. What'd you do?! Is that a natural reaction? A girl would do it; a guy would do it. You snap. Now he hit her or he pushed her or something he did and he feels bad. How could I have done that? Allah says, 'I'm giving you license in that crazy case. I'll let you get away with that one.'"
Nouman Ali Khan claims that homosexuality harms society, and that feelings of same-sex attraction are no different from a fleeting wish to hurt someone:
"What's happening in the United States is the scariest thing. ... Now counselors are being told that if a young person comes to you and says 'I think I'm homosexual' that you're not supposed to tell them, 'There may be something wrong with that.' You're not allowed. You can lose your counseling license."
"So if you want to be a psychiatrist, a therapist, etc., you have to say, 'You're entitled to your feelings. If you're having that feeling, that must be a good thing. You should live by those feelings and that's the only way you'll ever get happiness, is you do whatever you feel because of course, our constitution and our way of thinking is life, liberty, and the pursuit of what? The pursuit of happiness. You should be able to do what you want.' I would argue, really? You should be able to do what you want? And people have feelings all the time. I feel like slapping people all the time, you know."
"How many crazy thoughts go through a teenage boy's mind? How many feelings go through his mind? You're saying he has a right to act on all of his feelings? There are no restraints? Isn't that the most insane worldview? You should be able to do whatever you feel like? If everyone started doing that, what would we be left with? We'd be left with utter chaos."
Punishment for Adulterers, Prostitutes, and Pornography Workers
Khan openly advocates that adulterers, prostitutes and pornographic actors should be whipped, and that "mature believers" should watch the punishment:
"So one of the most politically incorrect places in the Quran is about the one who, the male or the female who commits adultery, that you should whip them, lash them, or whip them a hundred times. So the Quran says that ya'll got to whip the people who commit adultery a hundred times? What kind of barbaric law is that? And then we say, 'Well you know in modern times things are different, its okay, it's not the same, kind of thing.' Wait, wait, wait, this is the timeless book of Allah. So let's understand what Allah says first before we worry about explaining it to somebody else. ... It's talking about prostitutes. It is talking about people who are in the illegal sexual industry."
"Now let's take a step back and understand something, we're living in a time where, forget four witnesses, you can have four million witnesses because the pornography industry and the filth industry sells itself with billions and billions of dollars. ..."
"And so the Quran comes along and says, 'This is a very serious problem, with very serious ramifications.' People will become twisted and you know confused, and they're going become, they're going to commit crimes that won't even make sense. How many kinds of disgusting crimes are committed in the United States even against children? And violent sexual crimes? How many are reported every other minute? These are things that happen when you get exposed to this kind of filth over and over again, and it becomes normalized. You know? So the Quran steps in and says 'No, if someone does this in public, then you have to punish them.' And now let's talk about this punishment. They're not killed; they're whipped. And they're whipped a hundred times."
"Don't become compassionate when you're punishing them. In other words, even the people punishing them, even the one raising the whip feels bad and says, 'I don't want to do this' and Allah says, 'I know you don't want to do it, but still you have to do it."
"So mature believers should watch the punishment happening. Mature believers, worshippers, spiritually mature people, older people, wiser people. ..."
Justifying Sex Slavery
Khan justifies the enslavement of women:
"Now Allah revealed, and you know, our deen (religion) isn't in idealism, our deen is in practical realties. The practical reality is that this situation will occur; there will be women that will, you know, be in that situation. So what do you do with them? Allah put them under the authority of the believers. And the other interesting thing in this is that, you know, POWs you can do whatever you want, unthinkable things with them and nobody can question you. But this is not the case with what your right hands possesses, they have rights. Their children have a shared inheritance, practically they enjoy everything that a wife enjoys."
"And if you just look at this one word, responsibility. And you say, you know what, you have a problem with the word concubines? Let's talk about the word responsibility. Let's talk about Western society where every two and a half to three minutes a rape is taking place, and teenage girls in public schools are getting pregnant and they don't know who did it. And this hideous society is coming to life and nobody is taking the one word, nobody is taking responsibility."
"Everything that is in the Quran and everything that is in the sunnah [teachings] of the Messenger appeals to decent human beings. It's just a matter of explaining it properly. Not compromising anything. It just has to be explained properly. Like the issue of concubines, put it in perspective to historically POW women and it sounds like the most humane solution. ..."
Women as Second-Class Citizens
Elsewhere, Khan has also stated that a woman who talks back to her husband is committing a sin. He claims that if a woman has sex outside of marriage, she is nothing more than a used "piece of meat" in the eyes of men. To find forgiveness, Khan adds, the woman must subsequently "shed sincere tears. There's not enough tears you can shed, when begging Allah for forgiveness. Allah loves nothing more than the sincere tears that the slave of Allah sheds in begging forgiveness of him. These are precious to Allah."
Connections to Zakir Naik
In 2014, Nouman Ali Khan published a picture of him smiling with Zakir Naik, an Indian televangelist who endorses the death penalty for apostates and homosexuals. Naik believes that the Jews "control America" and are the "strongest in enmity to Muslims". Further, Naik has expressed praise for Osama Bin Laden and declared that "every Muslim should be a terrorist."
Naik was banned from the UK and Canada because of his Islamist rhetoric and incitement of violence. The Indian government recently shut down his NGO, the Islamic Relief Foundation (IRF), after law enforcement discovered that it had awarded Rs 80,000 ($1200) to ISIS operative Abu Anas.
Connections to Ismail Menk
Khan has also photographed himself with Ismail Menk, stating that it was a "joy to finally meet him." Menk is widely considered to be one of the most extreme Islamist preachers active in the West. Menk has stated: "With all due respect to the animals, [gay people] are worse than those animals." He claims they are "filthy" and worse than "dogs and pigs."
In addition to preaching hateful, homophobic rhetoric, Ismail Menk proclaims that women who participate in sex outside of marriage should be stoned to death. He declares that this punishment is stated clearly in the Quran and therefore cannot be debated.