In 2007, many of his mureeds suddenly left Syria in great haste and returned to our homes in the US and UK. Several came forwards with allegations of emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse directed at his third wife (who was a student), another female student, and at least two housekeepers, as well as the public secret of his physical and emotional abuse of his first two wives – abuse that was documented.
The remaining mureeds were subjected to intense pressure to cut all contact with those who had left Syria. Anyone who asked questions about what happened in Damascus was kicked out of the tariqah, as were those who were deemed to be ‘possibly weak’ in their loyalties to Yaqoubi. Possibly because one of the victimized students talked to the authorities, as well as Yaqoubi’s past speeches where he had expressed support for suicide bombers, insurgents, and anti-American sentiments, Yaqoubi has not visited the United States or Canada since 2004.
Although many of his mureeds quit in 2007, he has continued to travel to the United Kingdom, where admiration for him among traditional Asian religious leaders means that he has built a new base of followers. Because of the Syrian government’s dislike of foreign Muslims, most of his students have been unable to go to Damascus and live near him.
Many of the traditional Islam mashaykh know about this but remain silent. Why so quiet boys? The leadership of Muslims fails once again.
The reason we followed him was to enrich ourselves with the sunnah of the prophet (saws). The person who teaches you this sunnah must embody what the prophet (saws) himself brought - the perfected character. When it became evident - and the clues piled up over years - that this person did not have it, we had no choice but to quit him. Do yourself and your soul a favour when you are looking for someone to impart the wisdom of the sunnah to you - skip this guy and keep looking.
When they tell you that we who left were bad Muslims with weak character, then ask yourselves, why was he praising us - even on recorded sessions - just weeks before? Why were those who now condemn us telling others to take advice from us and find companionship from us? Ask yourself, if we are such bad people, then what does it say about his judgment that the majority of his mureeds from that time were bad people that he invited into his home? Some of us were the caretakers and teachers of his children -- do you entrust your children into the hands of people who are of weak character and evil mind?
This wasn't easy to write and the decision wasn't easy to make. I did see the advice of some of the wiser men I have known. You have the right to know what we didn't know. You can make your own decisions, but do it wisely and with your eyes open.