Adding this to the forum because items added here tend to stay up for years. Over the last 15 years, too much material written by survivors and observers of spiritual abuse of Muslims in sufi tariqahs has disappeared or gone unnoticed.
The last two months have seen some allegations of cult behavior or secret behavior surrounding a man named Hamdi Ben Aissa in Ottowa, ON, although the allegation is that the majority of the behavior has taken place in France. It started with allegations of blasphemy over a snippet of a video from a talk he gave three years ago that was removed by his group (the "cow" video). An anonymous person (they say an ex-tech volunteer) then put that clip up online and (supposedly) goaded a public scholar, AAS, into making a commentary on it. Wa Allahu alim. This created a firestorm on social media. That then continued into allegations of ben Aissa creating his own tariqah out of thin air, of spiritual & financial abuse, and of faking his Islamic credentials.
As of right now, no one has posted an article or on the Lighthouse Facebook page stating they experienced any financial, emotional, or spiritual abuse at the hands of Hamdi ben Aissa, but it does seem that there are people who left the Montreal and French branches on less than great terms. In fact, the main Facebook pages for Hamdi's various projects never mention Montreal at all anymore.In Defense of Hamdi Ben AissaStatement of Apology and Clarification
by Hamdi ben AissaIn Defense of the Lover's of God's Prophet
(sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) by Mustafa PressaultReflections on Our Toxic Muslim Call-Out Culture
by Omar EdaibatAn Open Letter to Our People of Knowledge
by Omar EdaibatThe Times They are 'a Changin: The Age of Spiritual Abuse, and just who, exactly, is the victim?
by Sarah WalshAbusing the Spirit: On the Ambiguities of Spiritual Abuse
by Mustafa PressaultCriticisms of Hamdi Ben Aissa/Sanad CollectivePart I: An Honest Response to Stephane (Mustafa) Laurence-Pressault
by Sakin FaruqiPart II: An Honest Response to Omar Ediabat
by Sakin FaruqiPart III: An Honest Response to Hamdi ben Aissa
by Sakin FaruqiPart IV: An Honest Response to Sarah Walsh
by Sakin FaruqiAn Open Letter to Our People of Knowledge & A Response to Omar Edaibat
by Sakin Faruqi
The hashtag "WeSupportShaykhSuraqah" on Facebook contains posts by some students and teachers of Islam who felt that AAS* was unfairly and viciously attacked by Mustafa Pressault in a now-deleted Medium post where he was accused of being khawarij for posting the "cow" video. (*Along with several others, by name, who initially "liked" and commented on AAS's now deleted post about the "cow" video. All have now deleted their social media profiles, citing fear of harassment).
The Facebook page Lighthouse Media has been posting snippets of Hamdi's talks (not clear if they are from his general live streamed talks or local talks that he has recorded between himself & a small group of people) as well as some selected screenshots (appear to be cropped) and a snapshot of one page of a document that appears to indicate that Hamdi has started his own tariqah, contrary to what his community is saying. Several French Muslims on social media platforms have posted similar claims, stating that they witnessed Hamdi ben Aissa receiving bayah from whole groups of people in France, and indicating this might not be known outside of France.
The members of the Sanad community contend that some of what is being passed around (apparently not on Facebook but in email or WhatsApp) were recordings made of private conversations that were never meant to be heard. His community maintains he is merely a student of the Ba'Alawi tariqah, does not accept bayah from anyone and has not started his own tariqah.