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Trademark Saga

Ouddict

Ouddict Co-Founder & Tech Support
The Context and Background
While the latest eruption of embarrassingly juvenile hostilities are a direct result of trademark infractions on the part of Ensar Oud (Oriscent LLC), they have their origins in the events of last year when the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community planned their Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 for October of that year. This response seeks to provide some clarity for anyone who might be confused about what they have heard as the perpetrators of this deliberate obfuscation seek to fan the flames of discord and argumentation by the vilest means possible, bringing religion and politics to manipulate people’s passions into what essentially is a commercial dispute. This is very dangerous territory and the usual haunt of far-right activists, fascists and religious extremists who are adept at this game, manipulating emotions to divorce people from their logical faculties and act on the basest of instincts. The only reason this has descended to this level is because Ensar has a very weak to non-existent legal case as I am sure he has been advised.

As one of the founders of the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community and despite claims to the contrary from Ensar himself, the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community has never targeted any particular vendor or sought to undermine their businesses. If Ensar Oud feels threatened by the emergence of other vendors selling artisanal oud online, the right thing to do would be to innovate, lead by example and adapt to the changing commercial environment. Instead this vendor has embarked on a vendetta to snuff out the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community since 2016 and has failed miserably with this trademark issue being the latest in a line of issues since then. The reality is that I have personally encouraged and even helped vendors establish themselves on the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community since 2017, even to the extent of writing descriptions for them, helping them with sources, regulatory, marketing and other advice. This has continued even after the establishment of my own small operation and anyone with a fair mind can see that given my actions, it is passion for perfumery and oud that drives me.

To be honest, for those who are not aware about this storm in a teacup, it really is not worth your time reading about the dubious behaviour that exists in some parts of the online oud community and which is highly repulsive to most sane people. The Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community and Resident Artisans have ignored literally dozens of similar provocations in the past four years even though we sit on substantial evidence of wrongdoing that could seriously damage the reputation of Ensar Oud if made public and I am loathe to give this issue any attention even now when I have far my constructive and positive things to do with my time. However, I have an obligation to respond to the false information that is being pumped out like caustic and raw industrial sewage, to defend myself and the projects I am involved in against these continuous slurs and libellous statements.


The Global Artisanal OudFest 2020
Last year, unbeknown to the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community management, we had Josh from Smelly Vision (currently an Ensar Oud employee and possibly was in 2020 at the time of these events) who managed to involve himself in the planning of our Global Artisanal OudFest 2020, all the while acting in a manner to sabotage the event from within by faux outrage at a perceived faux pas and seeking to dissuade major event participants from taking part with only days to go. One can only imagine the disastrous outcome for the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020, if instead of rejecting his efforts to dissuade key figures from attending, he had been successful. Thankfully, the participants saw through this act and realised that Josh had manufactured an excuse to exit the planning team while also attempting to disrupt and damage the event with absolutely no justification.

When Josh initially came to me in May 2020 we spoke at length and at an early point of our back-and-forth conversation, he went out of his way to categorically stated that he wanted absolutely nothing to do with the messy politics of the online oud world and specifically mentioned Ensar who has been at the vortex of controversy and mud-slinging for years before Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community ever arrived at the scene. I am well placed to know Ensar’s history of fomenting online discord as I posted many posts defending Ensar, albeit with private misgivings and tried to mediate in some of the issues he had with another vendor back in 2012. The way that Josh conveyed his intention to not be involved with online politics with emphatic clarity struck me as a bit odd at the time as it was made without any apparent cause and made quite forcefully. It was obviously a major source of concern for him, but I made it clear to him that as a forum, we did not (and still do not) want any conflict with Ensar Oud the brand and that they had even won joint Vendor of the Year in 2018 and finally, that any responses in the past had been limited answers to repeated allegations and attacks by Ensar. However, I did mention to him that given our experience with him, Ensar himself might not want to work with him if he was involved with the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 or other forum activities, but that this was something he needed to resolve with Ensar.

Josh diligently maintained this stance of being disinterested in the online politics while crucially, not mentioning anything about a highly controversial and inflammatory unreleased interview he had conducted with Ensar. Given that Josh had made clear his wish to avoid politics, the existence of this interview when it finally appeared, to me indicated incredibly bad faith on the part of Josh and left me shocked due to its contents and the timing that was very close to our Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 start date. This interview was a pseudo-intellectual diatribe replete with false claims, highly personal attacks against me and outright falsehoods about the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community and I could only conclude that the timing of its release was calculated to cause maximum damage to the upcoming Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 with which Josh was involved from the start. Literally the only factually accurate detail regarding me or the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community in that interview that was that I owe a debt to Ensar towards which I have been making efforts to pay and that will be history within the next 3-4 months as my circumstances have improved after years of personal financial issues. Even the circumstances surrounding this that Ensar has related online are misleading, in order to portray me as some villain as will be made clear in another clarification that will be released when this debt issue is finally resolved. I can promise you all one thing, it will look much worse for Ensar Oud when that clarification is released.

One of the reasons Josh gave for leaving our Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 was his exception to a remark made by one of the participants in a private Whatsapp conversation where he mentioned that Ensar was Albanian and possibly bipolar to which Josh immediately reacted in a Pavlovian manner. If that statement was made with malicious intent in a racist manner and to mock those who suffer from mental health issues, I would have been the first to object and condemn this type of language, but it was clear from the context of the conversation that this was not the case. Moreover, the participant explained to Josh that he was wrong to frame this as a racist comment as he had mentioned this to point to the irony of Ensar’s claims to some sort of moral and monopolistic ownership of the online oud market when he himself hails from a country where oud does not grow and is unheard of and that his unhinged claims over the past years pointed to some sort of personality issue. In an attempt to defuse the tension and bring the matter to a harmonious conclusion, the participant contacted in private Josh and sent him a series of audios apologising for any offence caused which Josh immediately rejected.

Within days, the synthetic and selective nature of Josh’s outrage was discovered when the other organisers of the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 team discovered jokes about Italians on his social media accounts and then a bombshell statement in an interview that was released shortly after Josh left the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 organising team. Unfortunately for Josh, in his interview with Ensar, the latter made incendiary – and not for the first time - outrageous racist and stereotypical remarks against people from the Indian subcontinent (see the video and make up your own mind https://www.instagram.com/tv/CVna2I8As9k/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link) besides the standard personal attacks against me. To me, it was apparent that this interview was timed to be released a week or so before the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 after Josh maximised whatever damage he could do to the event from within. When I pointed out the racist comment on the interview that he conducted, Josh did not seem bothered at all and did not address the comment made about people from the Indian sub-continent by Ensar. Why the double-standard? I guess because the outrage is actually a political device. While I have summarised much of what happened and left out important details that would magnify the account provided here, anyone with a basic moral code can see the inherent problem with the duplicitous position taken by Josh. Before we move on, just take a second to reflect on how this looks for Ensar Oud who employs this individual despite full knowledge of his actions and is indicated by his continued employment with them.

The whole scenario is quite comical and grotesque when you consider what is at stake (nothing world-changing – just fragrance which is a luxury given the condition that many others less fortunate than us are living in), but also disturbing when one realises that people who conduct themselves in this manner must really be scraping the barrel with their life situation to stoop so low. I suppose the offer of having access to oud oils such as Ensar Oud’s $5000 Nha Trang LTD amongst many others for someone earning a minimal salary in a UK call centre (around $10ph) that wouldn’t ordinarily buy more than a drop of such an oil is hard to turn down.

Disclaimer: I want to make it clear that I am not for single instant disparaging the past employment status of Josh and I went out of my way to help him with regards to this in August 2020 when he asked for advice and assistance in entering the Cyber Security field , in the same way that I have done so for others who have approached me for help in this area. However, what I and I am sure any decent person in my position absolutely would never accept is to be betrayed in such a duplicitous manner by someone who does not hesitate in fanning the flames or political strife and religious hatred if it confers some material advantage to him or his morally bankrupt employer. Given all this, it is not all that surprising that Josh did not bother validating the veracity of the accusations levelled by Ensar in the interview and in private, against me personally and against the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community.

After causing mayhem in the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 planning team and making a hasty exit shortly before it’s inauguration, Josh attempted to persuade the other external participants to boycott the event and leave the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community event without its key people and with no time to rectify the situation. Thankfully all but one participant stayed and told me that they saw through this charade and some of them mentioned the contempt with which they held Josh as an individual and his actions and ignored him. Instead of reassessing his actions, Josh embarked on a malicious campaign against the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community and against Al Hashimi in particular, due to my personal involvement with this vendor. The zeal with which he did this in the autumn/winter of 2020-21 left me genuinely baffled as I had literally done nothing to warrant this from him given my generous offers of help with his career and welcoming him with open arms as I do with most people I meet. In hindsight, given the later revelation that Josh is an employee of Ensar Oud, his behaviour makes perfect sense to me even though it is disappointing to see a fellow human being conduct himself in this disgraceful manner.

Since Josh has sought to bring religion into the discussion, I think he should ponder carefully on his involvement with the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 by considering the following hadith:

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, among the worst of people is one with two faces, he who comes with one face to these and another to those.”

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6757, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2526



The Current Trademark Issue
Before, during and after our Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 we were also subject to online cease and desist warnings issue by Ensar Oud as he claimed to own the trademark to the the “OudFest” term. We therefore checked the legal status of these trademark violation claims and found that they were actually false and baseless. Moreover, we discovered that the term itself was not coined by Ensar Oud, but originated from another online perfumery blog in 2012 where Ensar Oud products had been reviewed along with products from two other oud vendors. What is not known is that I personally sent an email to Ensar in 2018 to try and defuse tensions and offered to use an alternative appellation (OudFayre) for the Oud gatherings organised by the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community. We were totally ignored and then months later he copied the Oud Community label coined by me to try and launder the image of his previously infamous forum that was abandoned by members and moderators en-masse in 2018. It was abandoned when his behaviour came to light after the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community issued a response after repeated provocation and attacks extending back to October 2016 (are you seeing a pattern now?) and the new forum published a manifesto that was another diatribe against me personally and the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community.

The attempt to whitewash this negative image did not succeed and after this, we decided that he did not deserve the respect and consideration we had offered and reverted to the OudFest name. Even at that point, while we were happy to co-exist and allow Ensar Oud to focus on his events and business and we only made the trademark application in October 2020 to protect ourselves against attacks and challenges based on false trademark claims by Ensar. To protect ourselves from future claims, it was decided that we should register the trademark for the OudFest name for the USA and UK. Due to a lack of funds on the part of the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community, Rising Phoenix offered to register the USA trademark and both applications for both trademarks were filed in October 2020. Unfortunately, the events of the past month have now hardened our stance and our efforts to defuse tensions are clearly unwelcome. Contrary to his recent claim posted on the Instagram account of a supporter, every event we have held since 2018 has been a resounding success to the extent that the format of the event and has been copied by Ensar Oud, albeit that it is a bit of an oxymoron to hold an OudFest if you are the sole vendor present.


Now remember that all this drama is not occurring in a vacuum, but is part of a sustained and regular campaign of misinformation, mud-slinging and mockery directed at the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community since its inception in 2016. Our apparent crime is to have allowed open and honest discussion about oud and the online oud industry and given micro-operators of online artisanal oud companies and helped over ten enthusiasts establish themselves as small vendors. Obviously, this is probably anathema to a vendor who wishes to maintain an online monopoly (or informal cartel at best) on selling a particular essential oil. Before 2016, other vendors such as AgarAura and Uns Fine Crafts were the target of Ensar’s opprobrium from 2007 onwards purely because they also sold oud, to the extent that he was actually banned from the online Basenotes community in late 2011 for repeatedly targeting other vendors in a malicious manner similar to what is going on today.

This current drama is essentially just another shabby episode in a history going back to the very start of Oriscent LLC (trading as Ensar Oud) and the anti-competitive and unethical behaviour associated with the founder of that company, but all that is the subject of another discussion. Their actions last year, led to the registration of two trademarks, one of which they are currently wilfully violating without compunction and while Ensar has publicly made posts about lawsuits for defamation, he knows that every claim that is made about him is backed up with evidence, so he is welcome to try his luck.

There are many similar incidents and experiences to the ones mentioned in this clarification that could be published with accompanying forensic evidence, but we generally try to avoid any public association with Ensar and his narcissistic claims. We also realise that most people online are totally put off by this type of behaviour, so why even bother putting this out there? Unfortunately, there are a minority of cheerleaders who thrive on conflict and online drama and whose voices dominate the discussion to the extent that they go out of their way to privately approach people and spread disinformation designed to damage the livelihoods and businesses of others and this is the prime reason for the response because a dignified silence over the past 4 years to this type behaviour has not resulted in any change of course by the offending party.


Josh’s Online Religious and Political Lynch Mob
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is a well-known English proverb that provides a stern admonition to well-meaning individuals who convinced with the righteous of their particular cause, actually violate its core principles. There is a vocal online lynch mob being fed a narrative by Josh while he is currently an employee of Ensar Oud to actively use legitimate religious and political grievances to undermine and tarnish the good name of their competition.

We now come to the heart of the current issue - for me at least. Please accept my apologies in advance if the use of certain technical Arabic terminology and legal and discussion makes the discussion hard to follow and understand that I am addressing my co-religionists as Josh has disgracefully used religion and political issues as a weapon. While I do not expect every Muslim to read this and accept my point, I do believe that the vast majority will understand what is happening here and that a scoundrel from our community is playing a very dangerous game for commercial reasons, where everyone loses and that eliminates the possibility of dialogue and conveying the fundamental truths of our religious and political convictions to those who out of ignorance, may not share them.

What follows is mainly addressed to a Muslim audience - my co-religionists - as it is their sentiments and dearly held principles that Josh has hijacked to use against me and those associated with me. It is not the first time he has done this. Last year, after he flirted with making takfir (excommunication) on another Muslim social media reviewer for not accepting his view on a matter totally unrelated to the current issue. It is well known that this type of accusation is a hallmark of extremists in Islam and is a matter for qualified jurists with decades of study and peer-recognition at minimum. I told him categorically that this was a matter for the ulama (Islamic jurists) and not in his, my (or any layman’s) gift to decide. However, I was sufficiently disturbed by Josh’s accusations, to reach out to this Muslim social media reviewer and had a lengthy discussion with him. Suffice to say that things are not black and white, especially in the current age of widespread confusion and Josh came out of this looking every bit the fitna-monger (rabble rouser) that he undoubtedly is. Josh had threatened to mount an online defamation campaign against him by rallying Muslims on social media to frame him as a sinner or apostate and warned him to “strap in buddy” as he would seek to have him ostracised and boycotted and ensure that his reputation was destroyed. This is very similar to what he is currently doing with me and my company Al Hashimi, but this time using the incendiary issue of Palestine. The shamelessness of this individual knows no bounds it appears - to use a political issue very close to the hearts of 99% of Muslims including my business partner who is Palestinian himself and indeed many others. And to what end? For the base purpose of attacking an oud vendor and an individual who spent much of his time involved in dawah and supporting causes such as Palestine. Moreover, keep in mind that behind his shrill voice is Ensar who employs this individual.

It does not surprise me in the least that Josh has spent time in prison (his own words) for “defending Islam”. Communities everywhere have a minority of ignorant rabble-rousers and the Muslim online social media crowd are no exception to this and there are those who take it upon themselves to “defend Islam” and whose acts in the name of “defending Islam” add fuel to the social fires raging around us. Not everyone who happens to be a Muslim is qualified to decide how and by what means they take it upon themselves to be representatives of whatever cause they espouse and condemn others on the basis of rumours and ambiguity at best and deliberate misrepresentation at worst. They only represent themselves and should contemplate on the story of Khidr (AS) and Prophet Moses (AS) in the Qur’an rather than jumping to conclusions and engaging in the slander of their coreligionists for which there is a heavy penalty awaiting in the akhirah if the victim chooses not to overlook these accusations. I include myself first and foremost in this statement and it is the height of ignorance and arrogance to use religious and political issues to avoid addressing a commercial legal dispute.

Regarding Josh, I have been informed by others close to the matter from last year, that his rabble-rousing actions were part of an online campaign that led to death threats against a certain individual in the perfumery world. Months earlier this individual had appeared in an online interview conducted in his home library during which a shot of the disgusting rag Charlie Hebdo had appeared for a few moments as he moved around the room. Due to the prominent role of Josh in the online outrage, the British police paid a visit to Josh to question him about his involvement in all this. I was shown a video of this that Josh himself had recorded of the interaction. Josh had sought to elicit my help in this online campaign which is when he made very dangerous comments about faith of another Muslim that I described in the previous paragraph. Although as any Muslim would, I shared Josh’s anger and outrage at the incident, I am not in the habit of acting in haste and without all the facts and I recognise that certain things are best left to those more qualified to deal with them. Moreover, I absolutely do not agree with a reactive and mindless mob mentality seeking “justice online”. There are ways to seek redress and justice that are far more effective and more importantly, within the legal limits of the countries that we reside in.

Despite my own anger, I calmly spoke to the individual in the video to calm the situation and conveyed the depth of feeling that had been unleashed. To my great surprise he turned out to be conversant in Arabic and very knowledgeable of Islamic history and civilisation and considered himself to be a friend of Muslims. In response to my questioning, he unreservedly apologised for any offence he had caused and insisted that the cause of the offence was a complete mistake in the first place and that he had not even been aware of that the magazine (not even his) had been in screenshot until months later when it was seen by Josh. I encouraged the individual to make this apology general and public, but he was in a very bad position and literally wanted to avoid any further publicity to inflame the situation and attract even more attention given the pressure he was under by both liberal fundamentalists (who think it is a virtue to hurl the most filthy insults at a figure revered by almost 2 billion people and not expect a response) and some Muslims who think that their piety is directly proportional to how much they can manifest their blind rage instead of a calm, measured and effective response, thereby playing right into the hands of these amoral provocateurs. Does that mean we as Muslims accept the types of incidents that I am alluding to here? Absolutely not and we never can accept them as this is part and parcel of our faith, but it is for the Ulama (Islamic jurists) and where it exists, an Islamic political (state-level) authority, to decide what the appropriate response is. For example, there is an incident during 1910 or 1911 where a similar situation existed and the Ottoman Empire (who were a competent and widely recognised state-level Islamic political authority) issued a diplomatic communique to London that dealt with it at the time. I won’t go any further into this incident, but those in the know, will know why, but the way Josh conducted himself and stood excitedly ready to judge fellow believers said all anyone needs to know about his character and mode of operation.

In all this, my first and foremost source of inspiration is the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and I leave the legal rulings on the matter to the ulama (Islamic jurists). However, I do know that the Quran instructs us to “repel evil with good” and that the life of the Prophet (saw) is full of examples of the highest levels of compassion and mercy to those who opposed him and those who attacked him. One example that comes to mind is of a woman who habitually threw her filthy rotting garbage on the doorstep of the Prophet (saw). One day this stopped and so he (saw) enquired about her and was told that she was ill. So he visited her and asked how she was and this led to her accepting Islam. Moreover, many of the Sahaba (Companions) of the Prophet (saw) vehemently opposed Islam until his gentle and compassionate character won them over. My personal instinct is inspired by this example our Prophet (saw) left for us and I make absolutely no apologies for trying to build bridges with people whose political views and beliefs I may not share and that might have caused me offence, especially during these volatile times where polarisation is accelerating. Does my religion instruct me to increase that rate of polarisation and all the negative consequences that will inevitably follow, or should I act as a brake to at least try and bring people together where possible? I don’t think any sensible person needs me to spell out the answer to that question. As an individual who loves the Prophet (saw), I refuse to allow an ignorant rabble rouser who thinks the appropriate solution is to pour petrol onto naked flames, dictate how others should respond and I’m acutely aware that this scoundrel is rallying others in the Muslim community by deliberately misrepresenting my position on the matter. I do not use the word scoundrel lightly but have no other description for someone who uses complex and highly controversial religious issues as a weapon with which to attack someone else for commercial advantage. For me it’s the lowest of the low and it is entirely relevant to not forget who employs him and on whose behalf he acts because all this is linked to an OudFest trademark issue and to the fact that those on the receiving end of these attacks happen to be… commercial competition. The mind boggles at the audacity of this conduct.


The Issue of Rising Phoenix
The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw words, ‘Politics is the last resort for the scoundrel’ ring very true in the current situation and is addressed at those individuals who harness politics for their own hidden motives. In this case it is very simple. Earlier this year when JK who was one of the vendors on Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community, and operates Rising Phoenix, made a post on Facebook regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While I say Israeli-Palestinian, it is reality an Israeli-OIC conflict and the issue concerns the entire world and beyond for various reasons. On the evening of that post which I was unaware of, I received several reports of this post and upon reading it, I was extremely disappointed and very upset, especially given my personal efforts in building bridges and being open in my private discussions with JK and others on the forum over the years.

However, on the specific issue of his post pertaining to Palestine, I made my personal feelings and objections on this post very clear to JK from Rising Phoenix that evening and was not satisfied with his response. What I did not realise at the time was that Josh had been making comments against the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community in damage our reputation by saying that we were giving succour to a Zionist and racist Muslim hater and working hard to ensure that there was an association between the post that JK had made and the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community. He did not realise that in his rush to inflict reputation damage on the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community using political and religious rallying points, the management of the platform were already discussing what to do regarding the situation.

One must wonder why Josh and those who share his vile views are not so keen to apply the same standards to the social media platforms where they have accounts for commercial benefit and where they post their attacks from. Why not have some integrity and boycott Facebook, Instagram, TikTok where you are happy to reside alongside the likes of the Far-Right and racists such as the KKK and Neo-Nazis? But no, you instead direct your ire against a tiny online platform run by your co-religionist who your employer has a commercial conflict with? Honestly it does not look good at all and what makes it far worse is to use religion and political issues as a weapon in all this.

The post made by JK on Ben Shapiro’s Facebook page was deliberately portrayed by Josh as me supporting a racist and a Zionist and by association, supporting those positions which I absolutely and categorically reject. It was used to launch a religious and political attack on me by an online lynch mob, stoked by highly emotive political and religious issues is currently making the rounds, telling anyone who cares to listen, that I am a Zionist stooge, an apologist for racists and religious hypocrite by extension and naturally by association, the projects I am involved in are to be boycotted and “cancelled”. I doubt he applies the same standard to his employers and those he associates with - certainly as far as Ensar is concerned he does not, given the video excerpt from an interview Josh conducted himself that has come to light.

I also want to make one thing clear. I absolutely do NOT accept that JK from Rising Phoenix is a racist and I have had many private discussions with him on these issues over the past 4 years. He has a Japanese wife, is a qualified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has knowledge of Unani Medicine which is the medical tradition followed in the Indian Subcontinent and was introduced by the Muslims into that area. His political views - many of which I do not share - does not make him a racist. There are some things that I agree with JK on and many more that I do not and although I live in the West, I do not have a position on the emerging cultural wars as my position is informed by Islam and there are areas of commonality across the right- and left- that I can find common ground with and areas across the political spectrum that I do not. So politically we have our differences, but if they are kept private (for all vendors - not just JK) and not brought into the public sphere it is not an issue. What I could not accept was the post he made on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the fall-out that ensued and I made it clear that he had to accept responsibility for this including the fact that he could no longer retain his position as Resident Artisan on the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community.

We run what is an inclusive online platform at Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community for everyone that is not based on my personal whim and we have rules for the vendors that include not bringing the forum into disrepute. Given the uproar that was taking place and my own personal misgivings, I consulted the forum management one of whom is Jewish himself. While my proposed course of action was to institute a temporary ban, I was advised by some in the management to make it a permanent ban which I accepted as I simply did not want a repeat of this episode.

After this decision and after I had explained it to JK, I had absolutely no communication with him until about two weeks ago when the whole issue of the OudFest trademark arose and due to my commercial interest as one of the owners of a similar trademark in the UK and admittedly due to the role of Josh in the issues surrounding the Ouddict Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 that had not been answered, I decided that I had to be involved in the online exchange regarding the trademark issue which brought out the mob from the woodwork. No doubt some of these individuals are well-meaning in their intent, primarily among them the self-styled “Visionary_Ali” who really has the bit between his teeth and howls about my morality while jumping to conclusions about which he is totally ignorant and insulting my Palestinian partner, all the while sitting somewhere in the US or Canada surfing on social media sites that promote and allow much much worse than what he claims to have found so offensive (may I humbly suggest that you change this to the more apt “Exclusionary_Ali”). The irony is of course that most of these individuals have absolutely no problem with another vendor making openly racist remarks about them (see the video - https://www.instagram.com/tv/CVna2I8As9k/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link), no issue with the countless attacks made by Ensar Oud on fellow Muslims and no problem with Josh behaving in a duplicitous manner.

On a positive note, something good has come out of all this and I have received a lot of supportive messages from Muslims who can see that the online lynch mob for what it is and also from fellow Muslim oud vendors who have reached out to JK and explained why the post he made from Rising Phoenix caused so much offence and this led to JK recently issuing an apology and a clarification on his position that goes some way in clearing the air and that I have decided to publish on the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community forum here - https://www.ouddict.com/threads/political-controversies-and-the-forum.4105/

There will always be a small minority who will have an issue with what I have said here and they thrive on partisanship and drama, but I know that they are in the minority which means there is hope for us, the silent majority.
 
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DubOudh

Aster Oudh
The Context and Background
While the latest eruption of embarrassingly juvenile hostilities are a direct result of trademark infractions on the part of Ensar Oud (Oriscent LLC), they have their origins in the events of last year when the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community planned their Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 for October of that year. This response seeks to provide some clarity for anyone who might be confused about what they have heard as the perpetrators of this deliberate obfuscation seek to fan the flames of discord and argumentation by the vilest means possible, bringing religion and politics to manipulate people’s passions into what essentially is a commercial dispute. This is very dangerous territory and the usual haunt of far-right activists, fascists and religious extremists who are adept at this game, manipulating emotions to divorce people from their logical faculties and act on the basest of instincts. The only reason this has descended to this level is because Ensar has a very weak to non-existent legal case as I am sure he has been advised.

As one of the founders of the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community and despite claims to the contrary from Ensar himself, the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community has never targeted any particular vendor or sought to undermine their businesses. If Ensar Oud feels threatened by the emergence of other vendors selling artisanal oud online, the right thing to do would be to innovate, lead by example and adapt to the changing commercial environment. Instead this vendor has embarked on a vendetta to snuff out the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community since 2016 and has failed miserably with this trademark issue being the latest in a line of issues since then. The reality is that I have personally encouraged and even helped vendors establish themselves on the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community since 2017, even to the extent of writing descriptions for them, helping them with sources, regulatory, marketing and other advice. This has continued even after the establishment of my own small operation and anyone with a fair mind can see that given my actions, it is passion for perfumery and oud that drives me.

To be honest, for those who are not aware about this storm in a teacup, it really is not worth your time reading about the dubious behaviour that exists in some parts of the online oud community and which is highly repulsive to most sane people. The Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community and Resident Artisans have ignored literally dozens of similar provocations in the past four years even though we sit on substantial evidence of wrongdoing that could seriously damage the reputation of Ensar Oud if made public and I am loathe to give this issue any attention even now when I have far my constructive and positive things to do with my time. However, I have an obligation to respond to the false information that is being pumped out like caustic and raw industrial sewage, to defend myself and the projects I am involved in against these continuous slurs and libellous statements.


The Global Artisanal OudFest 2020
Last year, unbeknown to the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community management, we had Josh from Smelly Vision (currently an Ensar Oud employee and possibly was in 2020 at the time of these events) who managed to involve himself in the planning of our Global Artisanal OudFest 2020, all the while acting in a manner to sabotage the event from within by faux outrage at a perceived faux pas and seeking to dissuade major event participants from taking part with only days to go. One can only imagine the disastrous outcome for the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020, if instead of rejecting his efforts to dissuade key figures from attending, he had been successful. Thankfully, the participants saw through this act and realised that Josh had manufactured an excuse to exit the planning team while also attempting to disrupt and damage the event with absolutely no justification.

When Josh initially came to me in May 2020 we spoke at length and at an early point of our back-and-forth conversation, he went out of his way to categorically stated that he wanted absolutely nothing to do with the messy politics of the online oud world and specifically mentioned Ensar who has been at the vortex of controversy and mud-slinging for years before Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community ever arrived at the scene. I am well placed to know Ensar’s history of fomenting online discord as I posted many posts defending Ensar, albeit with private misgivings and tried to mediate in some of the issues he had with another vendor back in 2012. The way that Josh conveyed his intention to not be involved with online politics with emphatic clarity struck me as a bit odd at the time as it was made without any apparent cause and made quite forcefully. It was obviously a major source of concern for him, but I made it clear to him that as a forum, we did not (and still do not) want any conflict with Ensar Oud the brand and that they had even won joint Vendor of the Year in 2018 and finally, that any responses in the past had been limited answers to repeated allegations and attacks by Ensar. However, I did mention to him that given our experience with him, Ensar himself might not want to work with him if he was involved with the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 or other forum activities, but that this was something he needed to resolve with Ensar.

Josh diligently maintained this stance of being disinterested in the online politics while crucially, not mentioning anything about a highly controversial and inflammatory unreleased interview he had conducted with Ensar. Given that Josh had made clear his wish to avoid politics, the existence of this interview when it finally appeared, to me indicated incredibly bad faith on the part of Josh and left me shocked due to its contents and the timing that was very close to our Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 start date. This interview was a pseudo-intellectual diatribe replete with false claims, highly personal attacks against me and outright falsehoods about the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community and I could only conclude that the timing of its release was calculated to cause maximum damage to the upcoming Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 with which Josh was involved from the start. Literally the only factually accurate detail regarding me or the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community in that interview that was that I owe a debt to Ensar towards which I have been making efforts to pay and that will be history within the next 3-4 months as my circumstances have improved after years of personal financial issues. Even the circumstances surrounding this that Ensar has related online are misleading, in order to portray me as some villain as will be made clear in another clarification that will be released when this debt issue is finally resolved. I can promise you all one thing, it will look much worse for Ensar Oud when that clarification is released.

One of the reasons Josh gave for leaving our Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 was his exception to a remark made by one of the participants in a private Whatsapp conversation where he mentioned that Ensar was Albanian and possibly bipolar to which Josh immediately reacted in a Pavlovian manner. If that statement was made with malicious intent in a racist manner and to mock those who suffer from mental health issues, I would have been the first to object and condemn this type of language, but it was clear from the context of the conversation that this was not the case. Moreover, the participant explained to Josh that he was wrong to frame this as a racist comment as he had mentioned this to point to the irony of Ensar’s claims to some sort of moral and monopolistic ownership of the online oud market when he himself hails from a country where oud does not grow and is unheard of and that his unhinged claims over the past years pointed to some sort of personality issue. In an attempt to defuse the tension and bring the matter to a harmonious conclusion, the participant contacted in private Josh and sent him a series of audios apologising for any offence caused which Josh immediately rejected.

Within days, the synthetic and selective nature of Josh’s outrage was discovered when the other organisers of the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 team discovered jokes about Italians on his social media accounts and then a bombshell statement in an interview that was released shortly after Josh left the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 organising team. Unfortunately for Josh, in his interview with Ensar, the latter made incendiary – and not for the first time - outrageous racist and stereotypical remarks against people from the Indian subcontinent (see the video and make up your own mind https://www.instagram.com/tv/CVna2I8As9k/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link) besides the standard personal attacks against me. To me, it was apparent that this interview was timed to be released a week or so before the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 after Josh maximised whatever damage he could do to the event from within. When I pointed out the racist comment on the interview that he conducted, Josh did not seem bothered at all and did not address the comment made about people from the Indian sub-continent by Ensar. Why the double-standard? I guess because the outrage is actually a political device. While I have summarised much of what happened and left out important details that would magnify the account provided here, anyone with a basic moral code can see the inherent problem with the duplicitous position taken by Josh. Before we move on, just take a second to reflect on how this looks for Ensar Oud who employs this individual despite full knowledge of his actions and is indicated by his continued employment with them.

The whole scenario is quite comical and grotesque when you consider what is at stake (nothing world-changing – just fragrance which is a luxury given the condition that many others less fortunate than us are living in), but also disturbing when one realises that people who conduct themselves in this manner must really be scraping the barrel with their life situation to stoop so low. I suppose the offer of having access to oud oils such as Ensar Oud’s $5000 Nha Trang LTD amongst many others for someone earning a minimal salary in a UK call centre (around $10ph) that wouldn’t ordinarily buy more than a drop of such an oil is hard to turn down.

Disclaimer: I want to make it clear that I am not for single instant disparaging the past employment status of Josh and I went out of my way to help him with regards to this in August 2020 when he asked for advice and assistance in entering the Cyber Security field , in the same way that I have done so for others who have approached me for help in this area. However, what I and I am sure any decent person in my position absolutely would never accept is to be betrayed in such a duplicitous manner by someone who does not hesitate in fanning the flames or political strife and religious hatred if it confers some material advantage to him or his morally bankrupt employer. Given all this, it is not all that surprising that Josh did not bother validating the veracity of the accusations levelled by Ensar in the interview and in private, against me personally and against the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community.

After causing mayhem in the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 planning team and making a hasty exit shortly before it’s inauguration, Josh attempted to persuade the other external participants to boycott the event and leave the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community event without its key people and with no time to rectify the situation. Thankfully all but one participant stayed and told me that they saw through this charade and some of them mentioned the contempt with which they held Josh as an individual and his actions and ignored him. Instead of reassessing his actions, Josh embarked on a malicious campaign against the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community and against Al Hashimi in particular, due to my personal involvement with this vendor. The zeal with which he did this in the autumn/winter of 2020-21 left me genuinely baffled as I had literally done nothing to warrant this from him given my generous offers of help with his career and welcoming him with open arms as I do with most people I meet. In hindsight, given the later revelation that Josh is an employee of Ensar Oud, his behaviour makes perfect sense to me even though it is disappointing to see a fellow human being conduct himself in this disgraceful manner.

Since Josh has sought to bring religion into the discussion, I think he should ponder carefully on his involvement with the Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 by considering the following hadith:

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, among the worst of people is one with two faces, he who comes with one face to these and another to those.”

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6757, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2526



The Current Trademark Issue
Before, during and after our Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 we were also subject to online cease and desist warnings issue by Ensar Oud as he claimed to own the trademark to the the “OudFest” term. We therefore checked the legal status of these trademark violation claims and found that they were actually false and baseless. Moreover, we discovered that the term itself was not coined by Ensar Oud, but originated from another online perfumery blog in 2012 where Ensar Oud products had been reviewed along with products from two other oud vendors. What is not known is that I personally sent an email to Ensar in 2018 to try and defuse tensions and offered to use an alternative appellation (OudFayre) for the Oud gatherings organised by the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community. We were totally ignored and then months later he copied the Oud Community label coined by me to try and launder the image of his previously infamous forum that was abandoned by members and moderators en-masse in 2018. It was abandoned when his behaviour came to light after the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community issued a response after repeated provocation and attacks extending back to October 2016 (are you seeing a pattern now?) and the new forum published a manifesto that was another diatribe against me personally and the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community.

The attempt to whitewash this negative image did not succeed and after this, we decided that he did not deserve the respect and consideration we had offered and reverted to the OudFest name. Even at that point, while we were happy to co-exist and allow Ensar Oud to focus on his events and business and we only made the trademark application in October 2020 to protect ourselves against attacks and challenges based on false trademark claims by Ensar. To protect ourselves from future claims, it was decided that we should register the trademark for the OudFest name for the USA and UK. Due to a lack of funds on the part of the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community, Rising Phoenix offered to register the USA trademark and both applications for both trademarks were filed in October 2020. Unfortunately, the events of the past month have now hardened our stance and our efforts to defuse tensions are clearly unwelcome. Contrary to his recent claim posted on the Instagram account of a supporter, every event we have held since 2018 has been a resounding success to the extent that the format of the event and has been copied by Ensar Oud, albeit that it is a bit of an oxymoron to hold an OudFest if you are the sole vendor present.


Now remember that all this drama is not occurring in a vacuum, but is part of a sustained and regular campaign of misinformation, mud-slinging and mockery directed at the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community since its inception in 2016. Our apparent crime is to have allowed open and honest discussion about oud and the online oud industry and given micro-operators of online artisanal oud companies and helped over ten enthusiasts establish themselves as small vendors. Obviously, this is probably anathema to a vendor who wishes to maintain an online monopoly (or informal cartel at best) on selling a particular essential oil. Before 2016, other vendors such as AgarAura and Uns Fine Crafts were the target of Ensar’s opprobrium from 2007 onwards purely because they also sold oud, to the extent that he was actually banned from the online Basenotes community in late 2011 for repeatedly targeting other vendors in a malicious manner similar to what is going on today.

This current drama is essentially just another shabby episode in a history going back to the very start of Oriscent LLC (trading as Ensar Oud) and the anti-competitive and unethical behaviour associated with the founder of that company, but all that is the subject of another discussion. Their actions last year, led to the registration of two trademarks, one of which they are currently wilfully violating without compunction and while Ensar has publicly made posts about lawsuits for defamation, he knows that every claim that is made about him is backed up with evidence, so he is welcome to try his luck.

There are many similar incidents and experiences to the ones mentioned in this clarification that could be published with accompanying forensic evidence, but we generally try to avoid any public association with Ensar and his narcissistic claims. We also realise that most people online are totally put off by this type of behaviour, so why even bother putting this out there? Unfortunately, there are a minority of cheerleaders who thrive on conflict and online drama and whose voices dominate the discussion to the extent that they go out of their way to privately approach people and spread disinformation designed to damage the livelihoods and businesses of others and this is the prime reason for the response because a dignified silence over the past 4 years to this type behaviour has not resulted in any change of course by the offending party.


Josh’s Online Religious and Political Lynch Mob
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is a well-known English proverb that provides a stern admonition to well-meaning individuals who convinced with the righteous of their particular cause, actually violate its core principles. There is a vocal online lynch mob being fed a narrative by Josh while he is currently an employee of Ensar Oud to actively use legitimate religious and political grievances to undermine and tarnish the good name of their competition.

We now come to the heart of the current issue - for me at least. Please accept my apologies in advance if the use of certain technical Arabic terminology and legal and discussion makes the discussion hard to follow and understand that I am addressing my co-religionists as Josh has disgracefully used religion and political issues as a weapon. While I do not expect every Muslim to read this and accept my point, I do believe that the vast majority will understand what is happening here and that a scoundrel from our community is playing a very dangerous game for commercial reasons, where everyone loses and that eliminates the possibility of dialogue and conveying the fundamental truths of our religious and political convictions to those who out of ignorance, may not share them.

What follows is mainly addresses to a Muslim audience - my co-religionists - as it is their sentiments and dearly held principles that Josh has hijacked to use against me and those associated with me. It is not the first time he has done this. Last year, after he flirted with making takfir (excommunication) on another Muslim social media reviewer for not accepting his view on a matter totally unrelated to the current issue. It is well known that this type of accusation is a hallmark of extremists in Islam and is a matter for qualified jurists with decades of study and peer-recognition at minimum. I told him categorically that this was a matter for the ulama (Islamic jurists) and not in his, my (or any layman’s) gift to decide. However, I was sufficiently disturbed by Josh’s accusations, to reach out to this Muslim social media reviewer and had a lengthy discussion with him. Suffice to say that things are not black and white, especially in the current age of widespread confusion and Josh came out of this looking every bit the fitna-monger (rabble rouser) that he undoubtedly is. Josh had threatened to mount an online defamation campaign against him by rallying Muslims on social media to frame him as a sinner or apostate and warned him to “strap in buddy” as he would seek to have him ostracised and boycotted and ensure that his reputation was destroyed. This is very similar to what he is currently doing with me and my company Al Hashimi, but this time using the incendiary issue of Palestine. The shamelessness of this individual knows no bounds it appears - to use a political issue very close to the hearts of 99% of Muslims including my business partner who is Palestinian himself and indeed many others. And to what end? For the base purpose of attacking an oud vendor and an individual who spent much of his time involved in dawah and supporting causes such as Palestine. Moreover, keep in mind that behind his shrill voice is Ensar who employs this individual.

It does not surprise me in the least that Josh has spent time in prison (his own words) for “defending Islam”. Communities everywhere have a minority of ignorant rabble-rousers and the Muslim online social media crowd are no exception to this and there are those who take it upon themselves to “defend Islam” and whose acts in the name of “defending Islam” add fuel to the social fires raging around us. Not everyone who happens to be a Muslim is qualified to decide how and by what means they take it upon themselves to be representatives of whatever cause they espouse and condemn others on the basis of rumours and ambiguity at best and deliberate misrepresentation at worst. They only represent themselves and should contemplate on the story of Khidr (AS) in the Qur’an rather than jumping to conclusions and engaging in the slander of their coreligionists for which there is a heavy penalty awaiting in the akhirah if the victim chooses not to overlook these accusations. I include myself first and foremost in this statement and it is the height of ignorance and arrogance to use religious and political issues to avoid addressing a commercial legal dispute.

Regarding Josh, I have been informed by others close to the matter from last year, that his rabble-rousing actions were part of an online campaign that led to death threats against a certain individual in the perfumery world. Months earlier this individual had appeared in an online interview conducted in his home library during which a shot of the disgusting rag Charlie Hebdo had appeared for a few moments as he moved around the room. Due to the prominent role of Josh in the online outrage, the British police paid a visit to Josh to question him about his involvement in all this. Josh had sought to elicit my help in this online campaign which is when he made very dangerous comments about faith of another Muslim that I described in the previous paragraph. Although as any Muslim would, I shared Josh’s anger and outrage at the incident, I am not in the habit of acting in haste and without all the facts. Moreover, I absolutely do not agree with a reactive and mindless mob mentality seeking “justice online”. There are ways to seek redress and justice that are far more effective and more importantly, within the legal limits of the countries that we reside in.

Despite my own anger, I calmly spoke to the individual concerned to calm the situation and conveyed the depth of feeling that had been unleashed. In response, he unreservedly apologised for any offence he had caused and insisted that the cause of the offence was a complete mistake in the first place and that he had not even been aware of that the magazine (not even his) had been in screenshot until months later when it was seen by Josh. I encouraged the individual to make this apology general and public, but he was in a very bad position and literally wanted to avoid any further publicity to inflame the situation and attract even more attention given the pressure he was under by both liberal fundamentalists (who think it is a virtue to hurl the most filthy insults at a figure revered by almost 2 billion people and not expect a response) and some Muslims who think that their piety is directly proportional to how much they can manifest their blind rage instead of a calm, measured and effective response, thereby playing right into the hands of these amoral provocateurs. I won’t go any further into this incident, but those in the know, will know why, but the way Josh conducted himself and stood excitedly ready to judge fellow believers said all anyone needs to know about his character and mode of operation.

In all this, my first and foremost source of inspiration is the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and I leave the legal rulings on the matter to the ulama (Islamic jurists). However, I do know that the Quran instructs us to “repel evil with good” and that the life of the Prophet (saw) is full of examples of the highest levels of compassion and mercy to those who opposed him and those who attacked him. One example that comes to mind is of a woman who habitually threw her filthy rotting garbage on the doorstep of the Prophet (saw). One day this stopped and so he (saw) enquired about her and was told that she was ill. So he visited her and asked how she was and this led to her accepting Islam. Moreover, many of the Sahaba (Companions) of the Prophet (saw) vehemently opposed Islam until his gentle and compassionate character won them over. My personal instinct is inspired by this example our Prophet (saw) left for us and I make absolutely no apologies for trying to build bridges with people whose political views and beliefs I may not share and that might have caused me offence, especially during these volatile times where polarisation is accelerating. Does my religion instruct me to increase that rate of polarisation and all the negative consequences that will inevitably follow, or should I act as a brake to at least try and bring people together where possible? I don’t think any sensible person needs me to spell out the answer to that question. Does that mean we as Muslims accept the types of incidents that I am alluding to here? Absolutely not and we never can accept them, but it is for the Ulama (Islamic jurists) and where it exists, an Islamic political (state-level) authority, to decide what the appropriate response is. As an individual who loves the Prophet (saw), I refuse to allow an ignorant rabble rouser who thinks the appropriate solution is to pour petrol onto naked flames, dictate how others should respond and I’m acutely aware that this scoundrel is rallying others in the Muslim community by deliberately misrepresenting my position on the matter. I do not use the word scoundrel lightly but have no other description for someone who uses complex and highly controversial religious issues as a weapon with which to attack someone else for commercial advantage. For me it’s the lowest of the low and it is entirely relevant to not forget who employs him and on whose behalf he acts because all this is linked to an OudFest trademark issue and to the fact that those on the receiving end of these attacks happen to be… commercial competition. The mind boggles at the audacity of this conduct.


The Issue of Rising Phoenix
The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw words, ‘Politics is the last resort for the scoundrel’ ring very true in the current situation and is addressed at those individuals who harness politics for their own hidden motives. In this case it is very simple. Earlier this year when JK who was one of the vendors on Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community, and operates Rising Phoenix, made a post on Facebook regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While I say Israeli-Palestinian, it is reality an Israeli-OIC conflict and the issue concerns the entire world and beyond for various reasons. On the evening of that post which I was unaware of, I received several reports of this post and upon reading it, I was extremely disappointed and very upset, especially given my personal efforts in building bridges and being open in my private discussions with JK and others on the forum over the years.

However, on the specific issue of his post pertaining to Palestine, I made my personal feelings and objections on this post very clear to JK from Rising Phoenix that evening and was not satisfied with his response. What I did not realise at the time was that Josh had been making comments against the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community in damage our reputation by saying that we were giving succour to a Zionist and racist Muslim hater and working hard to ensure that there was an association between the post that JK had made and the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community. He did not realise that in his rush to inflict reputation damage on the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community using political and religious rallying points, the management of the platform were already discussing what to do regarding the situation.

One must wonder why Josh and those who share his vile views are not so keen to apply the same standards to the social media platforms where they have accounts for commercial benefit and where they post their attacks from. Why not have some integrity and boycott Facebook, Instagram, TikTok where you are happy to reside alongside the likes of the KKK and Neo-Nazis? But no, you instead direct your ire against a tiny online platform run by your co-religionist who your employer has a commercial conflict with? Honestly it does not look good at all and what makes it far worse is to use religion and political issues as a weapon in all this.

The post made by JK on Ben Shapiro’s Facebook page was deliberately portrayed by Josh as me supporting a racist and a Zionist and by association, supporting those positions which I absolutely and categorically reject. It was used to launch a religious and political attack on me by an online lynch mob, stoked by highly emotive political and religious issues is currently making the rounds, telling anyone who cares to listen, that I am a Zionist stooge, an apologist for racists and religious hypocrite by extension and naturally by association, the projects I am involved in are to be boycotted and “cancelled”.

I also want to make one thing clear. I absolutely do NOT accept that JK from Rising Phoenix is a racist and I have had many private discussions with him on these issues over the past 4 years. He has a Japanese wife, is a qualified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has knowledge of Unani Medicine which is the medical tradition followed in the Indian Subcontinent and was introduced by the Muslims into that area. There are some things that I agree with JK on and many more that I do not and the while I live in the West, I do not have a position on the emerging cultural wars as my position is informed by Islam and there are areas of commonality across the right- and left- that I can find common ground with and areas across the political spectrum that I do not. So politically we have our differences. What I could not accept was the post he made on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the fall-out that ensued and I made it clear that he had to accept responsibility for this including the fact that he could no longer retain his position as Resident Artisan on the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community.

We run what is an inclusive online platform at Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community for everyone that is not based on my personal whim and we have rules for the vendors that include not bringing the forum into disrepute. Given the uproar that was taking place and my own personal misgivings, I consulted the forum management one of whom is actually Jewish himself. While my proposed course of action was to institute a temporary ban, I was advised by some in the management to make it a permanent ban which I accepted as I simply did not want a repeat of this episode.

After this decision and after I had explained it to JK, I had absolutely no communication with him until about two weeks ago when the whole issue of the OudFest trademark arose and due to my commercial interest as one of the owners of a similar trademark in the UK and admittedly due to the role of Josh in the issues surrounding the Ouddict Global Artisanal OudFest 2020 that had not been answered, I decided that I had to be involved in the online exchange regarding the trademark issue which brought out the mob from the woodwork. No doubt some of these individuals are well-meaning in their intent, primarily among them the self-styled “Visionary_Ali” who really has the bit between his teeth and howls about my morality while jumping to conclusions about which he is totally ignorant and insulting my Palestinian partner, all the while sitting somewhere in the US or Canada surfing on social media sites that promote and allow much much worse than what he claims to have found so offensive (may I humbly suggest that you change this to the more apt “Exclusionary_Ali”). The irony is of course that most of these individuals have absolutely no problem with another vendor making openly racist remarks about them (see the video - https://www.instagram.com/tv/CVna2I8As9k/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link), no issue with the countless attacks made by Ensar Oud on fellow Muslims and no problem with Josh behaving in a duplicitous manner.

On a positive note, something good has come out of all this and I have received a lot of supportive messages from Muslims who can see that the online lynch mob for what it is and also from fellow Muslim oud vendors who have reached out to JK and explained why the post he made from Rising Phoenix caused so much offence and this led to JK recently issuing an apology and a clarification on his position that goes some way in clearing the air and that I have decided to publish on the Ouddict Artisanal Oud Community forum here - https://www.ouddict.com/threads/political-controversies-and-the-forum.4105/

There will always be a small minority who will have an issue with what I have said here and they thrive on partisanship and drama, but I know that they are in the minority which means there is hope for us, the silent majority.
SubHanallah!!
I think that has to be the longest post I have ever read from start to finish!
Well written.
 

Ouddict

Ouddict Co-Founder & Tech Support
SubHanallah!!
I think that has to be the longest post I have ever read from start to finish!
Well written.
I know... had to be done (very reluctantly as I am so busy nowadays). It was the only option remaining with so much confusion out there. I have written to Josh and asked him to point out any errors that I may have made which I am happy to change in the post.
 

Castingshadows

@scentofsamadhi
Sadly watching JK employ the same behavior as Josh is pretty disheartening. I expected it from Josh sure. But the way how JK has handled this has further drove a wedge into the community. I feel like the grace you’ve brought to this whole situation is a breath of fresh air and much needed. I only wish that you spearheaded the entire issue because it probably would’ve had a much more amicable outcome.

Watching JK’s followers harass folks for simply enjoying perfume by calling them racists put a bad taste in my mouth. It’s hard to see who has the moral high ground in all this. When I made Jk aware of this situation he simply laughed and said “how is that my problem”?

It now feels like we have to choose what Oud we’re allowed to talk about and from which vendors or else we have to worry about public accusations of racism on Instagram. I can only hope at some point the figure heads of this community can help put out the flames caused by all parties involved.
 

Ouddict

Ouddict Co-Founder & Tech Support
Sadly watching JK employ the same behavior as Josh is pretty disheartening. I expected it from Josh sure. But the way how JK has handled this has further drove a wedge into the community. I feel like the grace you’ve brought to this whole situation is a breath of fresh air and much needed. I only wish that you spearheaded the entire issue because it probably would’ve had a much more amicable outcome.

Watching JK’s followers harass folks for simply enjoying perfume by calling them racists put a bad taste in my mouth. It’s hard to see who has the moral high ground in all this. When I made Jk aware of this situation he simply laughed and said “how is that my problem”?

It now feels like we have to choose what Oud we’re allowed to talk about and from which vendors or else we have to worry about public accusations of racism on Instagram. I can only hope at some point the figure heads of this community can help put out the flames caused by all parties involved.
Unfortunately me spearheading this issue would never work. The reason being that this strife exists because Ouddict exists and that is seen as an affront by the largest online oud vendor. That is at the heart of all this and I learned back in 2017 that it is much better to be silent than to say anything as most people do not know what is going on and do not want to know as they come to fragrance for peace, not war. Unfortunately I have literally been forced to issue this response due to a campaign in the shadows trying to undermine this platform and the company I am involved with (Al Hashimi).
 

Castingshadows

@scentofsamadhi
Unfortunately me spearheading this issue would never work. The reason being that this strife exists because Ouddict exists and that is seen as an affront by the largest online oud vendor. That is at the heart of all this and I learned back in 2017 that it is much better to be silent than to say anything as most people do not know what is going on and do not want to know as they come to fragrance for peace, not war. Unfortunately I have literally been forced to issue this response due to a campaign in the shadows trying to undermine this platform and the company I am involved with (Al Hashimi).
I know it’s a terrible position to be in. It’s just hard wrapping my head around it all. Obviously we all love oud or else we wouldn’t be here. You just have a very amicable voice of reason and it shows with how you handled this entire post. I really respect that.

Where do we go from here? What advice would you have for someone like myself that’s created a platform to share my oud experience but now find myself being harassed daily and called racist as well as my spirituality being called into question?
 

Ouddict

Ouddict Co-Founder & Tech Support
I know it’s a terrible position to be in. It’s just hard wrapping my head around it all. Obviously we all love oud or else we wouldn’t be here. You just have a very amicable voice of reason and it shows with how you handled this entire post. I really respect that.

Where do we go from here? What advice would you have for someone like myself that’s created a platform to share my oud experience but now find myself being harassed daily and called racist as well as my spirituality being called into question?
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Rai Munir

Musk Man
I know it’s a terrible position to be in. It’s just hard wrapping my head around it all. Obviously we all love oud or else we wouldn’t be here. You just have a very amicable voice of reason and it shows with how you handled this entire post. I really respect that.

Where do we go from here? What advice would you have for someone like myself that’s created a platform to share my oud experience but now find myself being harassed daily and called racist as well as my spirituality being called into question?
All will be fine within a few days. Each year, storm-in-a-tea-cup sort of issues emerge, and then forgotten. All vendors are respectable, and all have their specific stakes in the market, and all will be liked and loved by their customers. Competition is destined to become 'cut-throat'! The safest track is silence and letting the oils speak. And when oils speak, everything else including all sorts of issues, fair or unfair, turn to silent mode.
 

Castingshadows

@scentofsamadhi
All will be fine within a few days. Each year, storm-in-a-tea-cup sort of issues emerge, and then forgotten. All vendors are respectable, and all have their specific stakes in the market, and all will be liked and loved by their customers. Competition is destined to become 'cut-throat'! The safest track is silence and letting the oils speak. And when oils speak, everything else including all sorts of issues, fair or unfair, turn to silent mode.
If anything this has taught me what it looks like to be used and manipulated by a vendor for their own personal gain. I learned a valuable lesson.
 

VPhong

Oud Tea
Thank you for bringing this out in the open. It’s an unfortunate and sad state of affairs. There is no justifying bad behavior and bad practice. As a consumer neither can I justify my support for it. It is a reminder for me that the simple act of making a purchase can mean so much more. How I choose to spend my money also supports how a business conducts itself, giving allowance to the behavior and practice in existance …. worst empowering and feeding the growth of bad behavior and bad practice.
 

DubOudh

Aster Oudh
Most of this, to my knowledge, has been conducted on other social sites, like Instagram or Facebook and the likes.
I have avoided these platforms from the start because I have not been personally happy with their intent (as a business) and the lack of proper monitoring of content.
Thus far to date, most of what is classed as "News" today goes past me because I have no connection with these platforms. Although I have a vague idea what is behind this but am happy to keep it that way. This site to my mind has always been impartial to Oudh topics and is why it is growing. Although I do recall a gardening club I was a member of for a very short while. Amazing the behind the scenes politics that goes on in all walks of life......"This too shall pass" is a great quite which I apply regularly in life these days...
 

Ouddict

Ouddict Co-Founder & Tech Support
Most of this, to my knowledge, has been conducted on other social sites, like Instagram or Facebook and the likes.
I have avoided these platforms from the start because I have not been personally happy with their intent (as a business) and the lack of proper monitoring of content.
Thus far to date, most of what is classed as "News" today goes past me because I have no connection with these platforms. Although I have a vague idea what is behind this but am happy to keep it that way. This site to my mind has always been impartial to Oudh topics and is why it is growing. Although I do recall a gardening club I was a member of for a very short while. Amazing the behind the scenes politics that goes on in all walks of life......"This too shall pass" is a great quite which I apply regularly in life these days...
Totally agree. The above response is just a snippet of what I have had to deal with to keep this platform running since 2016. And we do it while creating a nice atmosphere on here for everyone to enjoy while keeping the wolves at bay. 🤣🤦🏻‍♂️
 

DubOudh

Aster Oudh
Totally agree. The above response is just a snippet of what I have had to deal with to keep this platform running since 2016. And we do it while creating a nice atmosphere on here for everyone to enjoy while keeping the wolves at bay. 🤣🤦🏻‍♂️
Well it's greatly appreciated brother. I have developed my fragrance hobby ten fold thanks to this platform...🙏🙏🙏
 
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