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Hangout 04 – Omar Suleiman – Activist
Channel: Boonaa Mohammed
Series: Boonaa Mohammed - Hangout With Boonaa
File Size: 11.83MB
In the fourth episode of “Hangout” with Boona Mohammed, Sh. Omar Suleiman talks about The Muslim Activist.
Episode Transcript ©
Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate and at times crude. We are considering building a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system. No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever.
rahmatullah wa barakato. This is brother Bowden Mohammed with another episode of hangout where we hang out. Now, Sharon was very tired. He doesn't know I'm so excited to be here with him right now. Because this is such a cool series we've started and the topic I think, is one that I wouldn't pick anyone better to speak about than him shake hands with Excel.
How's everything you're doing? You're doing okay. I'm alive. I like I like how you're the only one that left and
It took me a second but have the lab check. We had a great discussion inside about you know, 2014 interview and a lot of the
you know, the the different issues that we saw Muslims kind of taking a stance upon there were a lot of things in this year that affected Muslims and also affected non Muslims that you know, Muslims actually stood up for. But with the advent of social media, it seems like every day there's a cause, right? Every day, there's a petition every day, there's people standing up and signing up for something. Do you think we're being over flooded with this? You know, social activism that's taking place, especially amongst Muslims in the West? Define over flooded? I mean, do you think there's too many things happening? There's too many causes everybody's, you know, tomorrow, it's gonna be, you
know, petition around, I don't know, people removing junk from their neighbor's backyard and we're all gonna have to petition and get get behind them for that. I don't know. I just feel like there's a lot of things happening. Well, I think it's definitely you know, that there's something called an activism they call it, analysis paralysis, where it's just too much, you know, you're looking at everything and you get kind of pessimistic about the world, I just, whatever, I can't really do much. You know, what's the last lie Sam says, may Allah have mercy on me, on a man like him, allow him run out of nuptse I love mercy on a man who knows his own capacity it my daughter knows, he
knows his own capacity, he knows his own limitations, he knows what he can, and what he can't do. A lot will ask you about what's in your power, there's no doubt about it. And so I mean, I think that it's great to get involved in in many ways, as much as you can, inshallah, to Allah. I do think that sometimes, we give ourselves too much self importance in some ways, which is that I have to issue a statement on absolutely everything that exists out there.
And I don't think that we value, you know, how important it is for people to get involved in their own capacities within specific projects in strategic fashion, and really put their minds hearts and minds to it and me being involved. For example, if I'm involved with the BDS movement, with the with the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement for the Palestinian cause, that doesn't reflect a lack of care for the Central African Republic, or Syria or Burma, what that means is that that's a capacity that I feel like I can work and I can put my heart really into and put axon into it, whereas still not losing sight of what's happening in the world. Alright, you know, around other
than Palestine and things of that sort. I also feel like there's no doubt that the people that are around you have the greatest right upon you. So your local causes are the are very important. And this is what I was saying inside that you can't expect people to care for your Muslim causes. And I think it's offensive to people when the only time we demonstrate and protest and get angry is when something's happening 1000 miles away, whereas they're in your backyard eight miles away. There's police brutality, there's there's social injustice, where are you on that as a Muslim? Isn't that your cause as well? The prophets I send them suddenly ignore all of the causes of Mecca whenever he
became a received revelation at the age of 40 years old No, he was still very actively involved no one would go to him with a cause except that he would take that cause up as if it was his own. And so I think you prioritize there's no doubt about it. And you know, there is there is room for expressing moral support on multiple things. So for example, there's a cause that might be minor relatively minor right? Nothing is really minor right but relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. Even trashing regret you know, the street is trash in my neighbor's backyard that I keep throwing there
but you know, that that the moral the moral responsibility of just saying you know, look, I'm there for you i'm not i'm not unaware. Let me ask you this. Why do you feel as though some causes it seems like amongst the Muslim oma get more attention than others, we were talking about the closet full of theme, and it's one that definitely unites people of all you know, religiosity but it seems like it also takes a spotlight it regardless of whether it's a you know, there's a currency or not people are very adamant about Palestine, but yet, you know, sometimes I've heard this from some people, not myself, but I've heard this for some people, they feel like, okay, where are the Palestinians when
something's happening in Africa? Where are the Arabs, when something's a flood is happening in Pakistan? That's a valid concern. I don't
I don't necessarily disagree with that concern. And I think that, you know, there there are several reasons. Now when it comes to Palestine, just from a psychological perspective, number one locks on most of the locks. This is the place where the prophets lie Selim ascended to the heavens.
This is where the Prophet slicin led the MBA, an ambassador, the law says there's not a foot in Palestine, in puts in particular bait and muck this in Jerusalem, except that a prophet has prayed there are an angel has walked, there are some handle on every square inch of that land is holy to us as Muslims. Also add to that, that this is an outside enemy that is committing the greatest human rights violation that we've seen in the last in the last 100 years. Right. We haven't seen anything like this before, like, people literally robbed of their identity and, and forced to live in. Well, I shouldn't say the last 100 years it is a holocaust. It is an ethnic cleansing. Just as we condemn
Hitler's Holocaust, and I think cleansing This is also an ethnic cleansing. This is this is Israel's Holocaust. Yeah, this is. So there's a lot of it's just so and even with with Americans and Canadians, you'll find that there are people that are incredibly passionate about this cause that are not Muslim. So it's not even just the Muslims getting gathering or rallying around this cause it's just people in general, it's such a cruel thoughts that in this day and age in the 21st century, something as as gross of a human rights violation as Israel, and as Israeli policy and Zionism can exist in our world today. So that put that to one side, and obviously, it's an old
cause, too. It's it's a cause that has been going on since the late 40s. So it continues to, you know, raise those emotions. It's something that that children grew up in the Muslim world, and any Muslim kid grew up knowing that the Palestinians are oppressed, and that this is a land that we hope to get back one day inshallah, and this is something that we all are connected to. So for example, you know, when when the the issue with Muslims and in particular parts of China being forbidden from fasting, you know, a normal button when that came up, that's still a new cause. Burma was not really a cause that many Muslims were acquainted with Central African Republic. I mean, let's be real, if
you ask most Muslims, do you even know that there's such thing as something called the Central African Republic? They'd be like, What are you talking about?
So that's not to belittle the importance of those. And I do agree with that notion. And I am someone that's quite vocal within Palestinian circles about solidarity with other movements and with other causes. It's not just you can't just be about the Palestinian movement, you have to be about every cause, is within the Omen outside of the home of innocent people and causes of humanity? How do we change that? I don't think the solution is to say, oh, why do you guys only care about Palestine? I think, you know, always a Muslim should always be productive. You know, and this is something I was talking about in there as well, the lack of personal one, like the lack of good expert, you know,
just having good assumptions of people, we always suspect evil people, like instead of going off on someone and saying, what about like, I can tell you, me, I'm a human being. And I'm deeply flawed individual, when someone goes off on me in my status, and the only thing I do is I ban them. I just delete and ban I don't even give them the time of the day when someone says, Chef, I don't know if you're aware. But this just happened. Can you please post about it, I will happily post about it. And I see you're one of those people who will always retweet you always repost or anything, you're always
generous when someone attacks, right? Just ban I don't even I don't even read what you have to say. Because the way that you brought it up, it takes away from your cause. Right? You know, you know, I always wondered, because in my university days, I was, you know, quite involved with the, you know, anti Israeli movement and anti Zionist movement. And I know that actually, a lot of people who are involved in those movements were non Muslim. And, you know, the majority are the majority. And a lot of times, though, I found that they are also like, you know, very, I want to say deviant people, but there are a lot of people that are out there, you know, different groups, I won't name them
particular, but different groups who we definitely don't agree with, you know, fundamentally, to what extent are we allowed to collaborate with these groups, you know, these groups that, for instance, have, you know, different ideological beliefs in us, you know, something that goes completely against our belief? How much can we work with them for a cause, like Palestine or any other issue of the day? That's a great question. And I and I fear that, to answer it so broadly, that some people will apply it to their specific situation. So I want I need the viewers to actually understand that, you know, please don't take this and apply it to your particular organization, not
a group in particular. So we're not talking about any specific groups that we disagree with, right? What I would say is that, look, you know, it's not ethical that you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. So even if I don't agree with your cause, I'll take your cause up as long as you take my cause up.
This is a humanitarian cause, feel free to support but don't expect any validation for any ideas that go that that were, you know, that we are against, you know, in principle and theologically, don't expect us to take up those positions. Because you've recognized that there are innocent people being
killed in Palestine. And you've, you've decided to support that. So
I think that it's very, you know, and I disagree with that as well, the approach that some Muslims take that, that we should just automatically help them because they helped us, right. There's a difference between
allow, you know, cooperating
for United cause not on an organizational level, not on an institutional level. And affiliating my organization, my student association, whatever it is, with another student association at an official level,
you know, that I fundamentally disagree with. So I don't let me put it to you this way. Because I'll take something good. I don't think has ever happened. Okay, let's say there was a theoretically, there's a group that supports alcoholism. And that's all about getting drunk. Well, there's all those I'm like, sororities, and frats, a sorority or frat that that's that, you know, and we all know that the majority of them, let's not say we've got some things going on. But the majority of these facts, whatever, but I'm saying let's say that there's a group that is fundamental that that is basically an advocacy group for alcoholism, right?
Someone comes from from that group and wants to support the Palestinian cause. That's fine. That's great. Feel free to join. But I will not, I will not align myself with, with with your institution, or with your organization, because you supported the Palestinian cause. Right. So that's, that's it? And I know, that's a pretty, you know, out there analogy, but I hope that so the ends don't justify the means. No, of course not. The ends don't justify the means and anything.
I mean, what do you think about like with social media now with, you know, Twitter, Facebook, all these things? Like you're quite active, I'm active, you know, people are constantly out there posting things, different things are happening. Do you feel as though it's given way to the community finding out about more issues? Or is it? Do you feel as though social media has become, you know, more productive or counterproductive in the sense that it also is, you know, kind of saturating, you know, whatever issue of the day, we could be focusing on like, local issues, things in our community?
I don't think I wouldn't use the word counterproductive. I would say that look, you know, again, we should use it for its benefit, we should try to bring about positive change. I think there's, you know, we have a lot of outreach trolls, which basically will pick up any, any issue which they feel like they can manipulate for the sake of personal benefit and exposure.
We have a lot of those online, there's no doubt about it. And I do think that social media activism is becoming very condescend, like, it's basically about how well you can tell people off and I don't think that that's appropriate, either. I don't think it's a stop at social media activism. I think social media can be used as a powerful tool to mobilize to expose transgressions and injustices. I mean, we're seeing what's happening with, with Trayvon with Ferguson, with Eric Garner, with with so many people, I mean, speaking in American context, when police brutality, that stuff has come from the south, that stuff has existed for a long time.
You know, I've had issues not with police brutality, but with clear discrimination from police officers and things of that sort.
So I do think that this gives us an opportunity to police, the police and police the world, as a people,
you know, to sort of hold authorities in check in many ways,
which is a great thing. And it also gives us a chance to network better to mobilize better. The activity that we have today. I mean, that were that were part of today, how much more exposure does it get because of social media, it's an outlet of height. So islamically, what we do is, as Muslims, we always take flawed things, and we try to perfect them. We always the prophets, I send them says Allah has written on everything. He's prescribed excellence and everything, their ethics and social media there, there's a way that you act. There's good other than social media, you don't, you don't, you don't display but up on social media, and we all fall to it. I mean, because another problem
with social media is that we all talk too much on social media. So we have more opportunities to do good, and also more pitfalls for ourselves as well to mess up into. And obviously, social media is also very unforgiving. When people make mistakes, and when they fall, and we will all make mistakes, right? We've seen some of the popular Twitter scandals, right, you know, no names being mentioned.
Well, you know, when someone makes a mistake, I mean, it's, it's crazy how, like, I mean, there are videos that you know, I might have been having an off the off the cuff conversation with someone years ago, ends up on YouTube, and something's taken out of context. And the social media world is so unforgiving. And as Muslims, we have to, I don't want to steer this to that level, but we have to have give each other the benefit of the doubt. And also, there's this idea that publicly correcting someone before privately reaching out to him is okay. I don't believe it's okay. I think that what's better for me is I would rather privately contact someone give that person a chance. And I'm really
not talking about a particular I'm talking about in general right?
Anyone I would say even even people that you know that we totally disagree with, give that person a chance to correct themselves publicly that way you preserve the issue. You allow the person to correct himself maintain his dignity you avoid all the fitna and the fallout that happens things of that sort and I think cluding Myself We Don't do that enough we don't we just go for blood every time you know it seems like people are so you know, they have this idea that everyone's voice or opinion needs to be heard on every issue right like for instance somebody does something like they will feel that okay shaker muscular man made a mistake. Me Joe Blow in the you know, whatever city
in whatever country feels like I need to know publicly, you know, correct you. And Misha Frey said, There is no such thing as public No, see, it's a public advice as a phobia. It's an embarrassment, humiliation. You want to advise someone, you give them a heart to heart talk to you. And if that Avenue is not there, then you publicly do what you have, but observe other like good manners. You know what I always tell people that the prophets I send them what some of his most beautiful Hadith or when he was angry, like the angriest he ever got, I saw the law on her. She said that I you know, the maddest I've ever made him was whenever I he kept on some of these little the law and after she
passed away, and then she said that one time I got jealous, and I shut out of her love for the mom and we are her children. She is our mother. She tells us about these mistakes she made right so that we can learn from it. So she said you know I got jealous. And I said that hasn't allowed replaced her with someone better than her. And also loss I sent him his face got red, he got angry. And he said, Well law he Allah did not give me someone better than her. Then he just went on to praise Khadija.
She believed in me when others didn't. She trusted me when others called me a liar she spent on me when others deprived me she had my children. He goes on to praise for these little lines. He did not attack, he saw the line. Notice that he didn't say Who do you think you are, and put her down. Instead, he just extolled for the job of the law. And so when you're angry, for the right reasons, when you're angry for the right reasons, there should be nothing unethical about the way you express that anger. If the way that you express that anger is in a way that's displeasing to Allah subhanaw taala, then you can't claim that your anger was for a loss of habitat, it was for something that was
nasty, that was personal. And its nature. If it was for a loss of power, tada, then you will not do anything to offend the law of loss penultimate in your anger. And in your correcting. You know, there's still so many issues, I think our communities coming from Canada in the US, that we as a community still need to address. You know, when we think about social activism, there's a lot of things within our own communities within our own massage that need to be, you know, the issues of racism that still exist within our community. You know, I mean, these things that a lot of times, I feel like even as Muslims, we're not ready to talk about yet. You know, do you feel as though there
are now platforms being open? Do you feel like this, you know, trend will soon change that we're actually going to be able to start, you know, delving and like, you've heard of this whole unmasks thing, and people are getting really in depth now with criticize internally, their community, to what extent can we criticize the community without becoming, you know, just haters. So, first of all we need to realize unmasked is, is in our societies, people are unchurched and on synagogue as well, just it's a huge generation gap as far as how Americans and Canadians or whatever how we understand religion, and how we understand the place of worship, and so on so forth. There is a generational
gap. I don't think it's fair to assume that all of the all of those that established massages in the 70s and 80s were backwards. cavemen, right, that just screwed up and everything in life and design form these instant, yeah, there were mistakes, there were holes, there were flaws. And primarily, I mean, especially in immigrant communities,
was the cultural baggage that was brought from overseas from wherever they came from. And also the idea that, you know, we're going to be returning home anyway. So it wasn't home. America wasn't home, Canada wasn't home. So you know, that's why Islamic schools for the most part started popping up more recently, in the last couple of decades, in the last two decades, because it was like, Okay, well, maybe we are staying here and our kids are really, our kids are actually starting to get messed up. And we can't, you know, so. So I think that's that's definitely there as well, that aspect is there. I do think there's some value to having discussion, but the discussion should
should be productive. I'm not saying that those Look, I really do truly mean this. I think there's sincere people on all sides of this discussion. I really do mean, and I know some of the people personally on every side of discussion, how do I managed to keep myself pretty neutral on this discussion altogether? I see their concerns. extremes bear extremes, though, extremes bear extremes. And so I think that's what we're seeing as well. And this is a discussion that unfortunately, that extreme reaction, the element of the extreme reaction is manifesting itself in things that are also against Islam. So culture, coming to a measure to a point where, for example, women are not given a
fair space and I've been an advocate
For. And I really do mean this before the last discussion like I, for my wife from I have a daughter, you know, I don't want I want my wife and my daughter to feel just as comfortable when they go to them. As I do, I want them to benefit just as much from ultimate as I do, I want them to be able to see the mom to be able to pray in a nice clean space that's proportionate to the messages and so on and so forth, where they have the nice chandeliers and the Clean carpet as well. I've never liked the the basements and the closets and whatever they call it, that and so handle, I mean, that's the message should be a place for everybody. One of the projects and I'm not trying to throw
in a shameless plug here, but that we started as Marsan
Muslims understanding and helping special education needs. Okay, what is that about? Primarily, you know, usually when we talk about disability awareness in the Muslim community, it's not just the discussion is more advocacy, like, okay, you know, be more tolerant of kids with autism are with, but if I'm a parent with an autistic child, and I try to become to the mother with a child, is there is there any space for me? No, no, I'll just get yelled at. And I mean, and you know, my mother back until it, may Allah have mercy on her, you know, she, she had some issues in terms of physically moving around, and also, you know, hearing or whatever it may be, it was disgusting, the lack of
lack of support and things of that sort. So, what I would love to see in this is the goal of Marsan, for example is that we've unmasked families with with either children with disabilities or parents with disabilities, we've unmarked those families.
Phenomenal so far. It's been great. We've got a launch good campaign up right now from Marsan. We've got a Facebook page, we got a website, we registered as an organization, complete nonprofit. This is just a it's a dream, honestly, that those families are also finding, you know, access not only being able to access the measure, but there are facilities that can accommodate them. There are programs that can accommodate them to make them feel like they're part of the community. The prophets, I seldom did not make anyone in the community feel awkward or left out. There's a hadith the Prophet so I sent him he said, an authentic hadith he said that don't stare at people with leprosy. Right?
Don't look at them in a way that would make them feel uncomfortable. Also, the very famous story of I'm loving McDormand, villalta. And we're running to the Prophet Solomon, asking him questions while he's in the middle of a meeting with our club, and so on and so forth. And I wish I had the leaders of grace, the prophets I send them had made himself so accessible to this man that he had no limits, right. He had no barriers, right? In essence, he thought, if the province comes out, I can I can interrupt him and ask him questions anytime. Because he was included in the community. The prophets lie, some made it a point to include everyone in the community. So racism is a serious issue in our
community. You know, it's
look, you know, I, so there's the Muslim Ark, Muslim, anti racism collaborative, there are a few things that are out there have, I never heard of that? Yeah, there are a few things that are gathering steam at hamdulillah. And I think that the challenge for all of us as we challenged
you know, the way that women are treated, mistreated in massage is actually in the measured system, the inappropriate hierarchies. In the massage, the power struggles, the politics, the racism,
you know, families with disabilities, as we challenged those, we just need to be positive, we need to offer solutions, we need to actually come forth with a viable discussion that fits within our framework of the core analyst and of the profit slice alone. Because if my response to you not treating women properly in the message is to do something also that's outside of the center of the prophets, I send them that I'm also a transgressor as well. My response should be to demand what the profit slice on demand and I've heard this from many sisters and I agree with that. We're sick of hearing about how Islam gave women rights 1400 years ago, let's see. Right? I mean, it's enough to
just see Oh, Islam give you great rights. All right, well, let's see it. I mean, the facilities in the massages are awful. And I think if the massages are in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet, slice Allah, we won't have the extreme reaction as well. That also falls outside of what's permissible and what's acceptable. So we need to we need to be productive and offer solutions. I think just last couple points thinking about racism. One thing I like in the US you know, it's a trend that you don't see many other places that you do see a lot of people you know, getting married from different races and cultures and communities coming together and you see a lot of these kids
now that just are beige. Now just orange kids which I think is so amazing, because they don't have that issue. They're coming from so many different cultural backgrounds stuff like that. So I mean, that's one great thing that just a random tidbit I want to throw in there that I think makes kids are beautiful mix kids are beautiful and they defy racism internally, right? Because they are you know, by all means, you know collaborations of different cultures. So anyways, that's all for this episode, Zack electric. I really appreciate you giving us a very busy and we thank all of you for watching. Stay tuned for another episode of hanging out in Sharla where we hang out with different
great people like Superman Superman zakia for watching Santa Monica.