In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful…
As students of knowledge and scholars continue to identify and warn the Muslims against the serious errors of controversial American preacher Yusuf Estes in basic beliefs, there remain a number of his supporters who cannot look past what they understand to be unmatched contributions to the propagation of Islam to non-Muslims. Some go so far as to refer to his accomplishments as “miracles”. In fact, this was exactly the sentiment expressed when a community was recently warned about the upcoming visit of Yusuf Estes: “How can you say anything against the man when more than 1,000 people accepted Islam after one of his lectures?! That is nothing short of miraculous!”
In reality, it is nothing short of a bold lie, as part of an extremely deceitful marketing campaign!
The very event being sold as a miraculous proof of how effective Yusuf Estes is in calling to Islam is actually a nasty concoction of deception and trickery.
The Dusseldorf 1250 Con Explained
The term “Dusseldorf 1250” will be used as a reference to what is widely promoted as an alleged event in Germany on July 27, 2008, when 1,250 people accepted Islam after one of Yusuf Estes’ lectures. Videos depict a few individuals accepting Islam, one-by-one, after which the entire German audience stands up and testifies to the Oneness of Allah and the messengership of Muhammad (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace), being led through the wording of the testimony by Yusuf Estes. The following is a small sample of the many videos available on YouTube alone:
- 1000+ People Converted to Islam in Germany With Yusuf Estes
- 1250 people converted to Islam together by Sheikh Yusuf Estes
- 1,250 People – Everyone in the Lecture Hall – Accepts Islam at the Hands of Yusuf Estes (Arabic subtitles)
- 1000 Blessed Souls Convert to Islam from Christianity & Atheism in Germany
- Incredible! 1250 persons converted to Islam at one time in Germany with Sheikh Yusuf Estes
- 1000+ Saying Shahadah in Germany with Sheikh Yusuf Estes
People view these videos and witness an entire tented lecture hall of Germans repeating the shahadah after Yusuf Estes. And it seems very convincing. But is it real?
Deception in Dusseldorf Dismantled and Debunked
The reality is that a few people did openly accept Islam at that event. Six people (allegedly), not 1,000 or 1,250. The others were already Muslims. Yusuf Estes convinced them that they were required by their Religion to announce their adherence to Islam publicly, and this was the meaning of the shahadah being a pillar of Islam, even if they were raised as practicing Muslims! At the same event, Yusuf Estes actually announces, just before the “mass shahadah”:
Did you know that every person who wants to be Muslim needs to make shahadah? Even if you were born in a Muslim house, with a Muslim name, it still applies to you like it applies to anybody else, just like salat [prayer], fasting, zakat, and Hajj. So, each and every one of you – even though you said: Well I say the shahadah in my salat [prayer] all the time – but if you never made a public shahadah, why not do it right now?
This gentleman right here wants to do that exactly. He wants to declare his Islam in front of the people. Now we don’t have enough room on the stage for everybody, so you can just stand up where you are, and we’ll all do the shahadah. But if somebody’s not Muslim and you don’t want to be Muslim, sit down, stay down…
This is the first level of falsehood and deception. To be absolutely clear, Islam does not require any “public shahadah” ceremony from any Muslim, whether new or born Muslim, not individually, and not as part of a group.
As Islam is a Religion of brotherhood and community, it is nice to hear of new Muslims accepting Islam. However, it is not a requirement, nor is it even recommended, let alone a pillar of Islam [!], to have a new Muslim pronounce his shahadah in front of a large public gathering. It should be noted that this is commonly done by da’wah organizations as a fundraiser or to attract the media as a marketing tool. Little attention is given to the individual and his situation, who may be genuinely embarrassed to stand in front of a crowd, or at least not prepared – on his first deed in Islam – to announce his decision to the masses. A new Muslim typically faces a lot of pressure when changing his religion. Do we really want to add more pressure and difficulty on him by requiring him to be involved in some contrived public ceremony? Care and concern for the welfare of a new Muslim is sacrificed to focus more on da’wah organizations and their marketing mechanisms.
Additionally, to require born Muslims who have been raised practicing Islam to take shahadah at some public event at least once in their lives, claiming this is the actual meaning of the shahadah being a pillar of Islam, is absolutely baseless. It is merely just another one of Yusuf Estes’ inventions which Islam is free of! The Messenger of Allah (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace) said, what means: “Whoever invents something in this affair of ours (Islam) which is not from it shall have it rejected.” [Agreed upon]
Multiple Layers of Deception
After duping the Muslim crowd into joining the “mass shahadah”, the second level of deceit involves counting the number of people at 1,250 and claiming that they all “took their shahadah”, without explaining the reality of what happened. When a Muslim hears that a German person “took his shahadah”, the meaning is clear in English: He has just embraced Islam. Without any other explanation, who would understand something else? Reactions found in the comment sections of all the videos linked above demonstrate this clearly. Shall we blame all of the viewers who were deceived for not seeing what really happened, or shall we blame the deceivers? [small sample from thousands of YouTube responses]
The third layer of this deceptive scandal includes moving from the report of 1,250 Germans “taking their shahadah” into 1,250 Germans “accepting Islam”, as found in many of the video titles quoted above.
The fourth layer of deception involves taking the contrived event and its misrepresented summary to an international stage and into other languages, especially Arabic, the language of the biggest funders of the Yusuf Estes mission.
But is Yusuf Estes Really Involved in the Deception?
On Almajd TV, an Arabic free-to-air satellite TV station, Yusuf Estes was asked about the “big story” that happened in Germany. He himself explains:
[Estes] In 2009, that was in August of 2009. I was a guest there for some of the organizations. And on our last event, we had about 1,300 people who attended, and they were very, very impressed with what is real Islam. And approximately 1,250 – remaining only 50 left – but 12,550, uh, uh, twelve hundred, sorry, 1,250, they stood up and they made their shahadah all together all at the same time.
[Interviewer] You told me you was very tired, every few minutes and another group comes, yes…?
[Estes] What happened, yea, when we finished the program, Pierre Vogel, he was saying salam to the people, and I said: ‘Well, wait a minute! Ask them if anybody would like to accept Islam?’ And he said, in German, he, you have to make tarjamah [translation] into German. And then he said: ‘Who would like to accept Islam?’ One man came up, a wrestler, he accepted Islam, then another man, one-by-one, each time he [Vogel] would say salam [i.e. goodbye] I said, “No, no, ask who’s next? Who’s next?” And then finally some women started coming up. I said, “OK, wait. Let’s just ask how many in the crowd would like to stand up, and you don’t have to come out on the stage. Where you are, make shahadah.” And all stood up , and we said, “Sit down if you don’t want to be a Muslim. Don’t stand up just for this. Sit down if you don’t want to be a Muslim. Only stand up if you want to be a Muslim.” So, 50 people sat down, remaining: 1,250.
Source: Interview with Yusuf Estes on Almajd TV [available alternatively here or here] Remember that this was on a live satellite TV channel broadcast all over the Middle East. Almajd TV is a free channel reaching millions, and it is part of a network of channels with hundreds of thousands of paid subscribers as well.
Both the host and the translator of the interview were astonished at the large number of whom they understood to be new Muslim converts in Germany. So the interview goes on, and they ask Yusuf Estes what attracted them to Islam, and he mentions the topics he talked about, without clarifying that the 1,250 were actually already Muslims who were just told to stand up and take part in a public shahadah ceremony he invented.
Additionally, Yusuf Estes himself has been directly involved in many acts of blatant deception in promoting this event on his various websites:
On his IslamNewsRoom website, Yusuf Estes himself features the video and writes:
1,250 Germans Enter Islam
Source: This screenshot taken December 1, 2013.
As an important reminder to all those who would try to defend these acts of blatant deception, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace) clarified the stance of a Muslim on deception and trickery, saying (what means): “Whoever deceives us is not from us.” [Sahih Muslim]
Behind Dusseldorf: Stages of Planning and Development
Before the scandal in Dusseldorf, Yusuf Estes had been developing the concept of mass shahadahs and testing it at the end of some of his lectures. Yusuf Estes seemed to believe that he could keep his “average” of new shahadahs up by asking the already Muslim audiences to repeat the shahadah and counting them as new Muslims. In a 2007 lecture, Yusuf Estes asked the audience to repeat the shahadah, after which he laughed and said:
Now, you all became Muslim tonight, right here! (Audience laughs) That brought my average WAY UP!!
At times, he would indicate that participation in a tearful public shahadah gives Muslims a fresh start or a “new lease”. [See this]
At another event in Curacao, an Island in the Caribbean, he tested the “mass shahadah”, and the finale was made into a separate YouTube clip, entitled, “135 People Convert to Islam After Yusuf Estes Lecture.” In another upload of the same clip, the following clear lie is found in the description:
After the lecture 135 people accept Islam.
But the fake report of 135 people “converting to Islam” in the Caribbean was not big enough as news. An inflated version of an account of “people standing up to take shahadah” made its way up to nearly 300 (in this video). However, a bigger attention-getter was needed, one with much bigger numbers and some white European faces to melt hearts at fundraisers all over the world. With this, the stage for Dusseldorf was set.
A Simple Question for Honest People Victimized By the Dusseldorf 1250 Con
For those of us who have refused to listen to any criticism of Yusuf Estes because we honestly thought he worked miracles in da’wah, with literally hundreds or even thousands of non-Muslims accepting Islam after his lectures… the question of the hour is in front of us:
Isn’t it about time to pay attention to what the scholars have been saying about Yusuf Estes?!
Please take the time to read this clarification [PDF] about the serious errors of Yusuf Estes in basic Muslim beliefs.
UPDATE: The Dusseldorf 1250 Con – Now A Staple Routine in German Da’wah
Since the tents closed and Yusuf Estes left town in 2008, Pierre Vogel and the team of Yusuf Estes’ visiting associates and local disciples continue to run the Dusseldorf 1250 Con on the people of Germany and, by way of Youtube and the Internet, the rest of the world. Learning from the marketing techniques of their misguided mentor, they have developed the con and taken it to new levels, as can be seen clearly in the following popular YouTube clips:
- More than 1500 People in Germany saying the Shahada (Featuring Pierre Vogel and Bilal Philips)
- 3000 German Christians Converts to Islam in One Day in Germany (Featuring Pierre Vogel and Bilal Philips)
- Allahs Geschenk! ca.3000-5000 Menschen sprechen die Shahada in Frankfurt (Up to 5,000 say their shahada)
- 3000-5000 Personen bei Kundgebung Frankfurt mit Pierre Vogel & Dr. Bilal Philips 20.04.11
The legacy of dishonesty and trickery left behind in Germany is evident. We ask Allah to guide him, his German associates, and all of us to sincerity and honesty in all of our dealings.
Written by: Moosaa Richardson
The information in this article is available as a PDF for free distribution:
Furthermore, this scam has been explained in Arabic in the following PDF for the benefit of our Arabic speaking brothers and sisters: