Shahid Bolsen is a controversial figure, but has nevertheless emerged as one of the most unique and influential public intellectuals of the Muslim world.
Shahid was born in the United States and raised primarily by his mother following the divorce of his parents. The family struggled financially, and Shahid and his brother had to work from an early age to make ends meet.
Even as a child, though, Shahid was disturbed by the gap between the rich and poor in America, and the materialistic lifestyle which he felt devalued human life. Shahid attended a local high school and was fascinated with the works of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, and spent hours at the library reading. Eventually, he dropped out of school, and spent all his time at the library.
“Shannon was not a troubled youth. He was very stable. He had his life together. He was smart and funny and he knew it. He was very critical of America’s consumerism and would always find a way of mocking it,” his brother said. As he grew older, he began to be more active in practising those philosophies, getting involved in social work helping homeless people, worked as a caseworker for indigent families, and as crisis intervention counsellor in gang neighbourhoods. Through all of this work, his family said, Bolsen continued to search for a spiritual direction that fitted with his views on justice.
In the mid-90s, Shahid was attending university (after completing his GED), and took a class on African-American studies. In the course, he was required to read the autobiography of Malcolm X, which spurred him to begin researching Islam.
“At that time,” Shahid recalls, “I had been looking into many religions, thinking I would take what made sense to me from this one or that one. But I had not considered taking anything from Islam until I read about Malcolm X’s conversion.
Once I began researching Islam, I simply recognized that this was not only the truth, but that, in fact, it was what I already believed; I had just never had a name for it.”
At 22, he embraced Islam.
Shahid became active in the Muslim community, including acting as khatib for Muslim inmates every Friday at the county jail. In 1997 he married his first wife in Gaza, whom he had met while she was in the US on a journalism fellowship.
After a few years, Shahid moved with his family to Ann Arbor, Michigan, near Detroit, to live among the city’s Muslim community, one of the largest Muslim populations in the US. Shahid worked on his Arabic, studied Islam with local scholars, became a Speaker and Activist, and took positions in the Islamic Assembly of North America, helping in outreach efforts and running IANA Radionet, an Islamic news and information website. In June 2001, Bolsen travelled to London, where he gave talks on Palestine. In 2003 he relocated to the middle east along his wife and their three children.
In 2006, a disaster started in Shahid’s life when he was confronted by a tragic and catastrophic event. After encountering an online profile of a German man in Dubai seeking illicit relationships with local women, Shahid invited the man to his home with the intention of persuading him against such behaviour, but the man was inebriated, and the meeting became hostile.
The man tried to force himself sexually on the family housemaid, and a struggle ensued, leading to the unexpected death of the German. Shahid was arrested and initially charged with murder.
He was detained for seven years on Death row in Sharjah central jail without having access to a legal representation in order to tell his side of the story or present evidences.
Eventually, after presenting his case in court in Abu Dabi, his sentence was overturned by the supreme court of the UAE. Bolsen was found not being guilty of murder but was charged with accidental manslaughter on appeal and was ordered to pay Diya (blood money compensation) to the family of the deceased. He was finally released from prison in 2013.
Settled in Istanbul, Shahid returned to writing and activism. He began to write about a variety of topics, but his focus was on Egypt and the Arab Spring.
This writing garnered the appreciation of many factions from the Egyptian opposition, but the ire of the Egyptian government, and Western mainstream media, which maliciously labelled him as a violent extremist, despite the fact that the strategies he advocated were all non-violent, and rooted in traditional forms of civil disobedience.
He rapidly built a following on social media platforms. He quotes “.. I have began to post my ideas on Facebook since Autumn 2013, with enough content to fill Ten books,…Meanwhile, after years of productivity, we can be deleted in a blink of an eye.”
He says in his last post before leaving Facebook ” I am tired of contribution to Zukerberg’s and Dorsey’s wealth and power, and I do not approve of how they use it.
furthermore, while I understand when businesses and organisations choose to stay on these platforms, but individuals really have no solid reasons.. the impact of your posts is subject to algorithmic discrimination, manipulation, and arbitrariness; not to mention being sandwiched between frivolous posts of cats falling off countertops and memes of sponge Bob. It is a platform that degrades, not uplifts discourse.”
He also began working with the human rights group ‘Detained in Dubai’, assisting victims of injustice and legal abuse in the UAE. In the wake of his Activism, he was subjected to a vicious smear campaign in the International media.
As a result of this, many disturbing articles and material come out of web searches discrediting and defaming him. However, Shahid has always kept a clear position on remaining against the promotion of violence or terrorism and denies any affiliation with groups like ISIS or the Egyptians Muslim Brotherhood; both of which he has consistently criticised.
Upon moving to Malaysia, Shahid became a Strategist and Adviser with human rights campaigners supporting the Rohingyas. Shahid continues to work as PR strategist and Legal Consultant for NGOs, Human rights groups and politicians globally.
In June 2021, He created a social media channel named ‘Qawwamun’ primarily to refute the concepts promoted by the Red Pillers, Rollo Tomassi and their ilk, and to promote healthier and more Islamic correct views on masculinity and gender relations.
By the end of the year, the channel was rebranded ‘The Middle Nation’ in order to fulfil a much broader goal and wider array of issues than the narrow spectrum of the previous channel.
Shahid is currently active on the Middle Nation Channel, the official channel for the content of Shahid Bolsen pursuing three main priorities:
- Promoting the Economic Sovereignty of Muslim Countries.
- The Political Independence of Muslim Countries.
- The Psychological De-colonization of Muslims collectively.
Timeline of important biographic events
|1. THE REVERSION||2. THE TRIAL||3. THE MIDDLENATION|
“So, whomsoever Allah wills to guide, He makes his heart wide open for Islam..” 6:125
“when Allah loves people He subjects them to trials..”