Channel: Hamza Yusuf
Maria Dakake, Andrew March, Hamza Yusuf in Conversation
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Okay, let's begin with you, Maria, if you can, you wrote this article and with with your basic thesis seems to be,
you know, you based on the study on the on the Quranic verses that addressed Jews and Christians. And you, as the title says, You offer a refer to as rules of engagement that Muslims need to interact with Jews and Christians.
And you also emphasized that it should be done with virtue and good manners. Other
I'm curious the question there, the idea in your your titled rules of engagement seems to imply at least, that we're missing some rules of engagement that we are we don't have enough of them or you don't we don't have the adequate or appropriate route of engagement, especially Muslims, are you? Could you explain whether you think they're, we're missing something in our interfaith engagement?
And if so, what is that?
Oh, first of all, let me say, thank you for inviting me. And thank you all for coming. And I do have to say that I don't think rules of engagement was the title I actually gave to the article. No, it wasn't it was a phrase that you use in the article that I use in the article. No, it's not that I don't think that it's not that I think that there are rules of engagement that are missing quite the opposite. I think that there's quite a good amount of both in the Quran, in the example of the Prophet Muhammad himself, certainly in other texts about the importance of add them
in integrate into well into religious dialogue, but also simply in engaging other people. And I think though,
inter religious debate is often focused on trying to win a particular argument, whether it's debates within the Muslim community about how they should view Judaism and Christianity, is it does Islam supersede them? Are they somehow still valid or religions that can provide guidance, or whether it's debates between people of different religions about which of their religions makes the most sense is, is most grounded in logic or reasonable propositions. And I think that
the purpose of encountering the other is not simply a matter of trying to win a debate or win an argument. I think that the rules of edit are important in that they help us to engage the other person as a human being.
She comes and talked about the importance of, of humanity, the rights that you have as a human being. And I think that when that sometimes in debates, and especially contemporary society, or debates take place on Twitter, and they take place on social media, we never we lose the encounter the importance of the encounter with another human being. And in my own experience, in inter religious dialogue, there is nothing like sitting across from a person who follows a faith that's different from your own. And yet you can see,
you can feel in talking to that person and seeing them that they are sincerely striving
for truth, and yet, they come to a different conclusion that you do. And I think that edip helps us remember that it helps us remember that the other person is a human being and has to be treated with a certain degree of respect. And it also helps us to remember our own humility as human beings, we don't know everything, we have to wait until God informs us at the end about our differences, which is a way of saying that no religious scripture in and of itself, puts all of these differences to rest. In fact, the Quran often says people differ after the book came to them.
And thank thank you for explaining that. I mean, that's what you mean by virtue and another.
I think virtue and edit are different. And how does that
I think that the you know, the Quran, as I said, in my article tells us that we have to deal with other people let the sun right that which is the best, the most beautiful, the most virtuous, but
all human beings have this potential for bird virtue. virtue is universally recognizable. It's universally attainable. It's universally valued. But human beings are born only with a potential for virtue future virtue has to be cultivated. And what Edda does i think is it forces people to behave almost as if they've acquired
It allows them to constrains their worst impulses, and forces them to have the best possible opinion of the person that they're talking to.
Andrew, I want to Europe in a political philosopher, and you understand the Western tradition quite well. And you're also a scholar of Islam.
You chose to write on a topic about you refer to as a radical other, which is the disbeliever. And how that person is viewed from an Islamic standpoint.
Do you did you choose that topic partly because you think there's a tension between the western liberal tradition or liberal societies, if you will, and Islamic tradition, and some other the failure among those committed to the Western tradition? and Muslims who live in the west to fully understand each other? Is that part of what you are trying to get at in your article?
Thank you for the question. Thank you for the invitation to be here. And thank you, for everybody for turning out and filling the hall.
I think it's actually I'm glad you asked that, because it can be a certain kind of misconception, which is to say that
there's a special burden on Muslims to accept the radical other or the disbeliever. Or that Muslims are particularly distinct in having this as a stumbling block. And to be honest with you, the question is actually motivated from the other side. So if Maria is talking about the ethics of encountering difference, from the standpoint of personal ethics, so I as a seeker of Truth, as an arguing about the truth, I encounter somebody that disagrees, I encountered that somebody, somebody that disagrees in a very, very radical way. What kinds of ethical dispositions should you cultivate? If you care about certain kinds of things, if you care about truth, if you care about your own
peace, and well being and harmony of your soul, if you're always arguing with somebody on Twitter, you have a very miserable life, even if you don't exactly recognize it, and what harm you may be doing to the other, right, so now, so that those are all very, very important concepts as pertained to individual ethics. Now, let's say that we magnify it to the level of society.
Every time you think about the composition of society, a society that is complex that is composed of many, many different kinds of people, I think that we're forced to ask ourselves a certain set of questions. First, what kinds of differences between us are acceptable and not acceptable?
Another question is what kinds of differences between us do we expect to always endure? And what kinds of differences can we hope to be eradicated? And
and when you put those two questions together, you have a kind of political ethics of trying to understand what is the appropriate scope for political action. So let's just begin with what I hope is in this audience, a fairly uncontroversial point, which is to say that our country
is built primarily on a history of racial difference,
in which there's a certain kind of imaginary that the country primarily belongs to white settlers. And this is at the detriment of people who involuntarily were migrated from Africa, or people who are found here. And were the involuntary hosts of people that migrated from Europe. Now, how you deal with this history is extremely complicated, but but I think we could all agree, at least in this audience, that the ideas that dominate this country for a very, very long time, which is that white people are inherently superior, that the country naturally belongs to white people, that white people are inherently more virtuous, more intelligent, were hardworking, that these are ideas that
have a legacy that we have to live with. Now, we may say they're markers of sin, we may say they're markers of history, we may say they're markers of false consciousness. But I think it's the absolute ethical responsibility of everybody who lives in America, to say that, that it is our responsibility to expect in the hope that these kinds of ideas will be eradicated, that these are not objects of toleration. These are not objects of sort of bemused indifference, right? Oh, well, my crazy old racist uncle, but these are objects of eradication. Now. So that's let's take that is a fixed point. Well, let's ask what other kinds of things we think ought to be eradicated? And what kinds of things
we think ought to be sort of born with toleration and what kinds of things we think ought to be recognized as reasonable differences. So I could go through the list, but I'll just jump to the end of your question. From a liberal perspective, there is a category of things that people differ on that are sometimes called your conception of the good. Now to a religious consciousness. The sounds a little bit
loveless, right. So my belief in Islam or my belief in Christianity is not my conception of the good. It's my ontological understanding of what I am, where I'm going, and what is the source of my dignity. But for all that, what liberal political philosophy is based on is the idea there are many such ontologies. Now, what do you say about this? One possibility is that one of them is right. Another possible but then we have all of Maria's problems, which is well, we, that may be true, But lo and behold, we're always disagreeing about it. Another possibility is that a few of them might be right, perhaps the Abrahamic religions, right, so there's just the right there's the there's the
series of revelations from God. And those are what's acceptable? Well, Another possibility is that all of these questions about metaphysics, about the origins of the cosmos, about the purpose of human nature, what is the source of virtue, what makes for a good life, all of those are of the same ilk. Some are religious, some are secular, but it's the same kind of human activity that ends up in disagreeing about them. And so if you take it at a macro level, I think what's motivating This is that from a liberal perspective, religion is a problem.
And so by grounds of reciprocity, the question is, well, from a religious perspective, what is the what is the attitude towards a conscientious rejection of anything other than a materialist explanation of the self, the body and human striving? So it's more I think, a question of my motivation is well, in liberal political philosophy, how we tolerate religion is an active question. And so why not see what happens when we try to pose that question? Also, from a religious perspective? So your assumption, thanks for the explanation, but your assumption is that in maintain political order in liberal societies, all parties need to have that understanding of the other.
Meaning that they know what what you cannot tolerate, or what you can tolerate. So that's another I'm very, very glad you also asked that question, because this is distinctly a question for a democratic society, right? So as Shaykh Hamza was talking about been basing the past is the past. Well, there are many, many models of toleration, there are many, many models of coexistence. There are many, many models of people, encountering others that are radically different from them. And lo and behold, managing to to, to see the sunrise the next day. The question, though, is when you have a democratic society, a group of people that is trying to govern itself, collectively, with no help
from anything other than itself, no monarch, no Pope, no cast of priests? How can we give ourselves a law or a series of laws that is ours, and at the same time is just so then you have to ask yourself, you know, who is included in this self governing population? And so then you have to ask, I think, well, is different about the good difference about religion difference about metaphysics, one of those things, that is a marker of being on the inside, rather than being on the outside? And if that is true, then I think you do need an account of why that kind of difference, doesn't mean you're not a member of the self governing people. And but then if that's true, then I want to know I
want I want to know, so a religious person might want to know, well, how do I know that you're not going to turn into a radical atheist that wants to extirpate religion, closed down churches and mosques, and re educate people such that they think religion is evil?
Likewise, a secular person might want to know, I want to know how you view me. Do you view me as enslaving myself? Do you view view me as somebody who is engaging in volume enough? Am I am I harming my soul? and holding these beliefs and thus, a possible object of reeducation or something worse? So I think it's not the most important problem in politics, but but that kind of mutual reassurance that I see you as my equal, and I see you as somebody that is equally capable of deliberation in public, it's not also the least important aspect of of democracy. Thank you for that. It's an important aspect. She comes up, I want to ask your question, but first, I want to see
if you had a quick look
I would just qualify white people as Anglo Saxons,
because I think a lot of the Irish did a lot of bad things in this country. And undeniably, undeniably, policemen for the Anglo Saxons. Okay.
I want to pick up on on on
that document that we're reading but also on the Americas declaration itself because it seems relevant to the subject at hand.
The American Declaration is based on the charter of Medina.
And I want you to do two things. One is to briefly describe the historical charter of Medina itself what it was, but also why you and check bin Baya and others believe it's a relevant thing for us, and particularly for Muslims to remind ourselves of today. Well, his his argument was when I hit shehab dollars argument is that the the, the modern concept of a nation state is is a new concept for Muslims. Prior to that there wasn't this idea of a nation state or citizenship. If you look at all the traditional text of political science, they talk about that hackerman Mac home, the ruler and the ruled, the idea of what's called mawatha on a citizenship was was really not it's a Greek
concept. And there's an argument that maybe one of the first problems with the expansion of Islam is that they adopted a more Persian model than perhaps a Greek model in terms of government because the province lies to them, arguably. And this is a big debatable point. But arguably, there's not any specific way to rule in Islam. The shediac is more constitutional than it is statute. And there's actually not that many statute laws in Islamic tradition.
There's constitutional principles. And so the Muslims have ruled in various ways throughout human history. But the idea of citizenship was not really a concept, the idea of a citizen being involved in legislation and voting and things like this. And so he's arguing that, in the original model, that the prophets Allah is provided when he first went to Medina, was an enfranchisement of the different groups that were there. And this was a tribal society, the Jews had various tribes and there were also Jewish Arabs who had converted to Judaism. And then you had the the polytheist, you had the Christians, you had some Christians, and you had the Muslims. And so the Prophet created the
charter of Medina, which sometimes is called the Constitution of ideas is debatable, whether it's in the constitution or not, but the charter Medina was basically that each of the groups were equal in their, in their rights as inhabitants of Medina and there's a very interesting verse in the Quran. When the Prophet was chased out of Medina, it says, want to hit know, if you had a better you know, you are a rightful citizen of Mecca that they had no right to throw you out. And this is the birthright of citizenship. Hence, America's one of the few countries that actually has that the idea of where you're born, you have a right to be legitimately there. And we're in a huge debate right
now in our country over this issue. But so so his idea was a restoration of the charter as as an alternative to the idea of paying tribute. So the poll tax is not really a poll tax, because it wasn't everybody, only certain people had to pay it. And sometimes, there were, there were many examples where that people did not have to pay. Monks didn't pay it, priests did not pay it,
nuns and things like that. So he most Muslims think this is the only way that we would relate to people outside of our faith in a majority Muslim land. And this is what ISIS did. They restored this idea of jizya. He's arguing that it's it's not the only possibility and that the more appropriate one is to go back to the charter of Medina. And he makes a very cogent argument that it was never abrogated the charter of Medina and shows that historically that that it's an acceptable approach to that. So that that's, that's what he did. But it's important to remember that the Ottomans abolish jusy, also in the 19th century, and that was done with the shareholders and with the agreement of
the scholars at the time. So this is not unprecedented. The the Ottomans recognized also that the world was changing, and they needed to change with it. Were you did you want to say something? I have a question for you. But go ahead. I did want to say something quickly about that. I mean, it's I think it's very interesting that he's
recommending that people take a look at this. And I that idea of citizenship is really interesting, I'd never really thought about it that in the constitution or whatever you want to call it of Medina. But one of the things I think is very important in that document, to me, as I think about it, is it presents a group of people coming together and agreeing upon a set of principles upon which they're going to live. That is not higher than religion, but for practical purposes transcends it.
And so when people sometimes look at, let's say, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, one of the religious arguments some people present against is that it's setting a kind of moral standard that's really above religious moral state.
This is a standard by which all other all religions, moral standards are going to be judged. And so I think what this does is is it says that you can have a common agreement that transcends religious difference, not because it transcends religion, but because it's something we all agree to, which I think is similar to what Andrew saying as well. We all agree to live by that. The second thing is that it also points to the kind of claim that your neighbor has on you.
Even though there were not just Jews and Muslims, but polytheist, as you say, living in Medina, but they were living in Medina, you had to live together, that claim that the neighbor has upon you is a foundation of virtue in Islam. And I think one of we were talking about this earlier, I think one of the problems with let's say, the way ISIS deals with one of the problems, deals with things as they're sort of taking these texts and just sort of using them as a blanket guide to action completely missing the importance of these are people, human beings. These are people who are living in a place they have a certain right to be there it was her right to live according to the way they
want to live or their interpretation. And I think that is ISIS is just that furthest example of how far you can go when you lose that sense of the importance, the claim that your neighbor has on you. Well, I think also the point that, that virtue or something that transcends religion, that's clearly understood and in the prophetic tradition that there's this idea a lot of Muslims are not and I think there's a major problem in the Muslim world is the conflation of ethics and religion. The idea that you cannot be ethical without religion, there's an argument you can't ground metaphysically ethics without religion, that's an argument but the idea that somebody cannot be ethical without
religion is is completely insane. But a lot of religious people have that misconception. And the prophets Allah ism clearly stated in a sound Hadith, whoever comes to you, and you find pleasing his Deen his religion will hold up Whoa, whoa, and his character, so he clearly separated between religion and character. And he understood that the Arabs in janelia had qualities that he wanted to maintain. And this is why custom and norms are very important in Islamic tradition. Wherever Islam went it, it acknowledged good customs and good norms of people that in essence, trans transcend religion itself, that there's a human goodness that that is innate that will manifest in societies
that that is not dictated by religion. No, I totally agree with you. But the point about there's an assumption by most people that if you don't have religion, you don't really have a moral basis of any kind. That is part of human beings. But Andrew, did you want to jump in? I just wanted to some very quick on the Medina covenant is that you mentioned briefly that it includes poly theists, and a lot of sort of the thought of some contemporary political Islam. As is well known for a lot of the 20th century the idea of Medina was this kind of symbol of the fusion of religion and state Dean without, okay, so the year zero of the hinge of the calendar begins with a hinge to Medina, what
does that mean? It's the assumption of political and geopolitical and military and all kinds of other power, but in a lot of, so for example, the Tunisian thinker, Rashida Lucci and a lot of his writings about the the post Arab Spring situation Tunisia, he has said, The Medina covenant is our arch model for politics, precisely because of its inclusion of pluralism. And so he says, at one point, we Muslims are lucky, we're fortunate that our political experience began in an experience of radical political pluralism. And so all of this all of the stuff of politics, mutual security, covenants, contracts, ordinary day to day welfare, from the very, very beginning was presumed to be
something that could be pursued across even the most radical religious differences. And so that's sort of become this, you know, this kind of like master metaphor for what politics is actually about in the contemporary. We're also also the concept of Dola, which is a modern modern Muslim, it's been around since the acids but they met revolution by a Dolan mubaraka. But that was the first use of it. But but there's no word in Arabic for state and state. What is it that was that they use, like governance and in fact, the umayyads called it how the armor based on the Hadees like Casa nostra Exactly, so So it's, it's, it's our affair, it's higher than this affair of government. Amir is the
one who has the armor of the command or the affair, but the idea of donor of a state was not they didn't conceptualize it in the same way that modern people do. And I think people don't realize how much public political Islam
Has colored the understanding of Islam of modern Islam. They it's very anachronistic to take a lot of these concepts and try to apply them to that early period and there's there's a very important distinction you're very well aware of this in the in most of the fundamental texts of creed they deal with politics and for instance in the Joe Hart was was taught for 400 years at in Alaska it says Why did you go to school mmm and I agree that it's you have to have a just a mom adjust ruler or authority beshara for Adam levy Hakuna aqui by Sharia, not by rational because there was a he laughed there was a difference of opinion, is government a rational? Or is it an injunction just for
intelligent human beings? Should they do? Or is it something the Shetty is telling us to do, but then he follows it up with a solution and you're adapted for D, this is not a pillar of the religion for that to zero and a million mobian. And, and people forget this, that, that the idea of of a state is not a pillar of Islam. And and it's very clear in the Hadith in our body where the Prophet tells her they thought, when he doesn't see any clear
polity, that he should just avoid all the sectarianism and and just be a private Muslim. And that's it. He didn't say you it's a foreign key via and you have to establish that. He's said, just be a private Muslim. And and this is something a lot of Muslims don't understand this, you know that it's not a pillar of Islam, the state and state. Yeah. I want to get to this issue of both. Maria you and Andrew both, both of you have
looked at Quranic verses. And based on Maria, your articles based quite a bit on chronic verses, and where you landed with the Quranic verses about Jews and Christians was essentially we're saying that there are some verses that are favorable to Jews and Christians and others that are not.
And then you wrote this and I want to read your your
paragraph from your article and have a quick question about that you said, suffice it to say that the ambiguity in Quranic statements about Jews and Christians is pervasive enough that the issue must be seen as ultimately irresolvable. And by believer in the Quran and his divine origin, perhaps as deliberately So, after all, if God had wished to speak categorically against or in support of the soundness of these other religions, he surely could have done so.
As Muslim theology always understood the Quranic verses this way. And my second question related question is what lessons Do you believe to Muslims take away from this conclusion that you're
looking at? Right? Well, I would say that, first of all, the year when the Quran is talking about these religions, it's always talking about the people in those religions, not about the religions, per se.
It's talking about the prophets who founded those religions is talking about the followers of the religion. So the question is, first question is what can you derive about the religion itself? From what the Quran says about the contemporary contemporary to the Prophet Muhammad's time, followers of the religion? I think that as raises Shah Kazumi says in his, in his book, or in an article, actually, that if you were to look at all the things that the Quran says about Jews and Christians, and just to sort of put them in rough categories of, you know, positive or negative, there certainly are, there's certainly a lot more criticism, probably then, than, than endorsement in some way. But
at the same time, I think that there are places where the Quran just leaves this issue.
So open that you can't close the door on the possibility that there could still be guidance, legitimate guidance or salvation from a theological point of view. The question is, has this the way Is this the way that it's always been seen? I think that when you look at the Islamic tradition, even if you look at the verses that are very positive, for example, 262 or 569, that talks about, you know, the Jews and the Christians and the sabians, along with the believers, whoever believes in God in the last day will have a bless it after that will have the reward with their Lord.
When you look at what classical commentators say about those, they don't read them as
an open ended assertion that Jews and Christians have an open path to salvation, they tend to read those in a more limited fashion than the Quranic statements themselves. So they say, well, these means the Jews and the Christians who followed the original Torah or the original gospel or who followed Jesus and didn't turn away or that kind of thing.
And it's certainly possible to read that that way, especially in light of all the other chronic verses, if you read it holistically, I can see how they come to that conclusion. But at the same time, I think it's a powerful statement. It's not qualified in the context of the verse itself. And so I think that it does leave this very much open. But yes, the classical commentators had what I would call a clearly supersessionism view, that although these religions or the scriptures had a guiding power in the past, they've been superseded by Islam. And as I say, in the article, too, you know, one of the arguments would be if you were a true follower of the of the Torah and the Gospel,
you would see the the truth and the message of the Prophet Muhammad in the Quran. And I think that's very clearly articulated, it has chronic basis as well and sort of seven, verse 157, for example, so
but at the same time, I think that you, I think that there are places where the Quran just leaves it to open even to say, not all of the Al Kitab are the same. And some of them are very pious, they pray in the watches of the night, they hear the Quran itself, and they, they're moved by it. So I and I think that when you take those open statements, and you combine them with the human interaction of people who do follow those faiths,
it's not like you can't see taqwa in the face of someone who follows a religion other than Islam.
You it's not that you can't see those kinds of virtues that religion was designed to inculcate in other people. And so I think if you take what the Koran says, and you take it in the context of
relations with other individuals, you know, the matter cannot be completely resolved. And so coming back to this issue of the human, whatever you might find in classical texts,
did not necessary necessarily reflect the situation on the ground. Muslims and Christians and Jews often lived together in peace, and even, not even not only in peace, but you know, in very profitable relationships intellectually, if you look at under lucea, or something like that. And so a theoretical notion of supersession, in which religion is really valid, and who's really saved? And what text really provides guidance? Well, these are questions ultimately, that are only resolved in the hereafter when we can't make statements about who saved and who's not saved. But what we can all do, as I said, is recognize virtue. And although certain religions might, you know, emphasize
certain virtues over others virtues or virtues, generosity, charity, mercy, justice, bravery, honesty,
we know what those are, and to the extent that we see them cultivated in someone that follows a particular tradition.
And that's your basic takeaway for Muslims, and is to look at that and say, recognize those virtues in others when you do recognize them, then treat them for what they are. Yeah.
Andrew, you looked at the Quranic verses about disbelievers. And you said that
you're where you land with that is that the God has caused the state of the state of affairs he's sealed their hearts is hardened their hearts, you know,
and for some people, but not others. And then you say this in a radio sentence from what you said, however, in the shadow of the view, that God curses unbelievers lie, the views that their unbelief is not their fault, and that God has decreed it intent intentionally, possibly with some wise plan in, in mind that is unknowable to mortals.
If God has decreed it, what does it mean for those of us who are believers? I mean, in some ways, you're suggesting that disbelief, itself is not the fault of disbelievers because God has caused them to be so.
But you also argue that reason, and rationality can lead a person to believe
you know, whether there is no God, that that reasoning rationally can also lead you to just disbelief.
And so my question is, how should the believer those of us who are believers, view the disbeliever, given what you're saying that?
So there's a couple of things going on there. One is the question of how Muslims or others should see the doctrine that
unbelievers should not be blamed because the state of their mind or the state of their heart is not their fault. So that's one question and the I think the point that I'm trying to make in the article is that
that's the dominant view. So when you read
Certain thinkers that are trying to come to terms with this right? Beyond Abrahamic fraternity, beyond Jews and Christians, how do you deal with this more radical pluralism? On my reading? The dominant view of how you explain disbelief is that it's is that it's God's choice, right? That if their hearts weren't sealed, or if their minds weren't somehow obscured, then humans would naturally be led to what their fitrah tells them, which is a kind of monotheism, I think that's more or less the view. So then you say, Well, how do I think that should be? So I mean, I clearly think that if you look at the history of the encounter between Greek philosophy and revealed religion,
when the philosophers start talking about religion as a philosophical problem, separate from specific doctrines like the resurrection of the body, or or things like that, what is a problem in religion for philosophers? So the primary one, I think the primary two really are miracles and prophecy. So if the world is ordered in a certain way, and if the world is governed by certain laws, which the errors to talian philosophers in particular wanted to believe was true, then how is it possible to believe in the suspension of those laws through miracles? The other is, how do you understand prophecy? How do you understand that, that either there's a God that could actively
intervene, or that there's a human that could be disposed in a different kind of way? The only point I'd like to make now is that, from the standpoint even of ancient and medieval philosophers, those were downloadable doctrines, those were downloadable views. And that the normal exercise of reason, could lead one to say that miracles require some other kind of explanation.
And that whether it's irrational to believe in miracles, and I think there are philosophers that disagreed on that, it's certainly not irrational not to believe in them.
Whether it's irrational to think that there could be a psychological explanation for prophecy, which the farabi in an epicenter an explanation, explain prophecy is some kind of hyper active intellect that was sort of immediately connected to,
to the divine intellect. It's also certainly not irrational to doubt that this is a source of knowledge. And so, you know, the, I think the most reasonable approach is to say that from outside of a kind of socialization, into which revelation as a source of knowledge, nevermind, certain knowledge, specific examples of prophecy are treated as having veracity, that it from outside of that socialization, there is an extremely high level of epistemic work to be done, for somebody to take that as an exclusive source of knowledge. And so as an absolute minimum, I just I think it has to be acknowledged, particularly in the modern world, where we know what we know about source
criticism, we know what we know about how complex and how changing views about the cosmos and metaphysics are that,
that that somebody could regard the basic ideas of prophecy, Revelation, and miracles as
something that we don't really have any reason to accept any rational reason to accept. Now that can be said without ascribing irrationality, or without ascribing false consciousness to those who do believe in them. Not everybody manages to do both of those things at the same time, but I think at the very least, it is a honest attitude towards knowledge to say that somebody who doubts in miracles and prophecy is not diluted.
Share comes out. Some years ago, I remember you wrote an article on copper and disbelief itself. I'm curious about this explanation about that somebody could reasonably doubt if not disbelief, you know, Revelation and prophecy.
What's your understanding of that? How would you
look at that?
I mean, one one thing, the Quran in several verses, it's, it's very clear, like a fillet shark, is there any doubt about God? There's an assumption of belief that it's a filter. It's it's part of the principio nature of the human being, it's something in client even falcoda. Dino Raj. He argues that causation is natural to the human being to believe in causation. And he gives an example he said take and I did this with my kids.
when they were little, he gives the example of taking a child who's like, one year old.
And, and, and, and hiding and throwing something, and then watching the child look for the source, the child doesn't just assume that it popped into existence. And so he says that it's a natural belief to seek causes. In fact, the first philosophy, metaphysics is seeking first causes looking at what are the first causes? And and so there's an argument that most of the Muslim theologians make that human beings, that that if they think about it, they will arrive at this conclusion. I mean, this is obviously, there's also counter arguments about you know, that the parts, that causation in the parts doesn't assume that the whole has a cause.
And, and there's certainly, the idea, Aristotle, makes an argument that and this is taken up by him and Cena and others that, that the cosmos existed alongside God so that the cosmos itself has is eternal. And that was one of the things that ghazali points out about the problems with the philosophers. But But one of the things that fascinates me about what you know, I was taught in the crease that I learned a supersessionism view of the tradition that Islam in the Jihad says that the Shetty of the Prophet abrogated all previous Shetty as, but it didn't deny the idea that there wasn't light and guidance in those traditions that was pointed out. And and that is the opinion of
normative Islam. The the great scholars of Islam grappled profoundly with the problem of disbelief and the problem also of the fate of people outside of Islam. So you have people like Mohammed roselli, who one of the last books that he wrote about four years before he died is called twice at a tuffet have
Emanuel's and documented COVID he was under the the criterion that differentiates between disbelief and heresy. And he makes a very strong argument that the vast majority but he categorized people into four categories. Three of the disbelievers people outside of Islam, three out of those four categories he considered saved.
So on the only one he actually sends to the fire, the other three he considers them safe and and Mohammed is the embodiment of Orthodoxy. And, and, and, and even taymiyah grappled with this even timea there's an argument that he's a Universalist in his approach to salvation because he had a very problematic with the eternity of the fire
as a as eternal punishment for a temporal sin, that that a merciful God who's defined essentially with mercy the problem begins in the name of God the Merciful the compassionate so he makes an argument and it's a sound book I mean, some of his followers modern followers like al-harbi wrote a book arguing that it's he didn't write it but he did because even I'ma Josie quotes from it, his own student, even Russia, his other student quotes from it, and tajudeen suki who wrote a book called an active our
agenda, we're not refuting even Samia, because it makes me argued that the fire will be extinguished.
Because he said it wasn't compatible with absolute mercy. And so wrath was not an essential attribute of God, there's no there's no God is not no more active as a name. He's not the Madlib is not a name of God. The Quran clearly says that he punishes people, but it's not one of His Divine Names as as a name there. And there's a difference of opinion about whether the verbs are transferred into names but that's another matter. And then you have something like sha Allah, Allah can Dalloway, who also argues that people have too many filters. And this is one of Mohammed's arguments that sociologically, people grow up a Mohammed says in the moment, he said, I noticed
Jewish children become Jews, Christian children become Christians, and Muslim children become Muslims, the and he said, because of the natural authority of the parent, they just believe what their parents tell them. And and so those are filters that make it very difficult for people. And then if you take somebody for instance, like Abu sufian, who fought the Prophet for 20 years, and then he finally becomes Muslim, whereas somebody else who fought the prophet and dies in the first battle,
that's very unfortunate.
Right? What if Abu sufian died in that first battle? Did God know that he would have believed after 20 years? it these are very difficult things that only God can really sort out and I think that is the message of the Quran is that
I'm going to explain all this to you, you know, it's like the, the the director's cut, you know, you get the, you know, you have these films that you can actually listen to the director explain why he did everything. And oh, that's why he did that. Right. And and so one of the things about, according to the the, our belief about the end of time, is that in the resurrection, people see everything they get to an end, it's all it's all, you know, we're gonna find out who really killed Kennedy.
Quincy Jones knows that.
So, but but there are many examples of this in our tradition where they really grappled with this problem of, you know, understanding what's holding people back.
And, and, and, and also there was a deep compassion, I think, in, in our community. For other people we have, we have history. I mean, I'll give an example. Even Omar Abdullah bin Omar, when Omar was killed, a priest visited him to give to Isaiah even Tamia mentions that, you know, on the permissibility of doing Isaiah for Christians and Jews and thing, but a priest visited him and and and told him can cathartic come counterfeit, oh, well be on the third, like you were on the first and he doesn't explain it. And then he leaves. Even Omar says, write that down, because that's a wisdom that we and here I am, you know, 1400 years later, because it was recorded, that was and what
he meant was
on the third day of of Tazio of
you know, when you when you offer condolences on that be like you were on the first day in other words, don't let this reminder of your mortality and death diminish as the days pass, you know, so beyond the third day like you are today, and and he he wrote it as a wisdom he was taking wisdom from somebody from another faith
may mourn in his motion and Mahmoud he studied with Aveiro, is you know, they were they were interlocutors he went big, wet, wet, when when the more he done took over, he had to flee and receive because of the Jewish persecution.
He goes to to Egypt and becomes the personal physician of Medina or UB, the, the the,
the Kurdish ruler who re conquers Egypt from the ultimate, but there's an example of somebody who was honored for his intellect for his knowledge of so I think Muslims traditionally, you know, they did grapple with these issues and it's very easy to to dismiss it. Oh, they're all cool far. I mean, one of the things that Dr. cakes said, I think is very important that you know, gentleness, kindness, all these virtues. If you look at the description of Kfar in the Quran, these are profoundly negative people. They're arrogant, they're puffed up, they're full of pride. They're, they're horrible to other people.
And, and, and that's why even though there's a legal designation of Kufa, for people outside of Islam, we have to be very careful. And that that's what I was trying to argue in that who are the disbelievers, we have to be very careful about Kufa and that this is a heat up difference of opinion between the machetes and the maturity these Is it a temporary state or is it a permanent states, you know, but Corby mentions that Omar was beloved to God when he was prostrating to idols in Mecca. Because cuz Alma was Omar, even when he was a polytheist. And so that there's nuances there that that are really lost, unfortunately, on a lot of people with simplistic views of these problems.
Marie, I think, I want to ask you this question we've got, but I think I know your answer. But I don't want to presume that but this idea of the disbelievers the way to talk about looking at disbelievers what you were saying earlier, about Jews and Christians and Muslims, you know, deal with them and engage with them. I assume that you think of something that applies to disbelievers as well. When you talk about people with virtue, I mean, what shakima just said, because even the ones who have those virtues, that we should deal with them the same with compassion with you know,
well, many of the verses of the Quran that talk about dealing with people gently who don't agree with you in your religion, come from meccan verses in the interlocutors that are implied are our pagans is his idea. You know, the God doesn't forbid you from doing from being kind and dealing justly with those who don't seek to oppress you and your religion that's with it. You know, I mean, it's in Medina, but it's it's relating to ask my friend Debbie back who rejected
A president from her mother, I believe it was I'm trying to remember. So. So it, it's quite clear that these don't just apply to people who are a part of the fop tab applies in general. I mean, think also about even Moses went and Aaron and Harun when they're told to go to Pharaoh, they're told to speak, you know, Khalid Li, and then they're told to speak gently, and that's to Pharaoh was not just wrong, what do you mean, evil?
and cruel, so? So what I'm saying is that I don't think it applies just to Jews and Christians. And I, I agree that it is possible, especially today, as Andrew was saying, for people to come to
a conclusion of a certain kind of doubt, but it doesn't mean that they cannot also possess
ethics and act according to ethics and possess even virtue. And I think the clear example of this is Abu Talib, the prophets uncle, right, I don't think Shiites will be very happy with his or she has believed that he became a Muslim, but from the Sunni point of view, he never became a Muslim. Would anyone say he didn't behave virtuously?
So I think there are plenty of examples of that. And then you just, you know, you have to leave. You know, that's not a matter that that human beings can judge. Right.
Andrew, I want to get back to your thinking is sort of explained in your opening answer, but you use a term,
you say you should go beyond mere toleration, and actually have what you call reciprocal recognition of the other. Talk about that definition? What does that look like? When you say reciprocal recognition of the other? What exactly do you mean by that? Right. So again, the idea is that I think it's pretty obvious that toleration, while it sounds like a virtue, and in some cases, it may be a virtue. It's some that people want to ascribe to themselves. A toleration, you only tolerate what you don't like what you disapprove of right. So I tolerate too much salt in my food means that, you know, I, I probably shouldn't, or take some effort or something like that. So I don't think any
Muslim in the room today wants to be tolerated, right? What are what's what's so intolerable about me, that requires toleration in the first place, it wouldn't be bad.
So there are worse things and being tolerated. But certainly, I hope that we all have higher aspirations for the kinds of human relationships that we're capable of. Right, except, I'm not everything is worthy, either have toleration or have some kind of reciprocal recognition. So, you know,
you're mentioning technology and the evils that it comes with. And so we're all familiar with the kinds of not just, you know, let's say, Islamophobic, or racist views that are going around, but views that are so radically in denial of science and rationality, that we may say, what's the crisis of our democracy, is that nobody can agree in our country, on what counts as a fact, or it counts as evidence. And so the extreme persistence of climate change denial, or things like this, this, you know, why do we even talk about religion when we have, you know, so many greater evils and ills in our democracy? So that should be your next issue. But
so you might say, Well, no, I don't, that that's neither worthy. Certainly, it's not worthy of reciprocal recognition or any kind of positive recognition. It may the people may be a sort of objects of toleration, because like Abu sufian, you may hope that they have the awakening and they realize that they only were in denial of climate change, because they listen to too much fox news or other kinds of media. But even if that's true, here's the difference. if somebody were to say you're designing a democracy from scratch, forget the constitution that we have. You are designing an ideal constitution. Is it obvious to any of us that we would have the exact interpretation of the first
amendment that doesn't allow for some kind of positive cultivation of a public sphere in which genuine knowledge is disseminated, and then persons who are capable of discriminating from true and false sources information is regarded as an object of virtuous citizenship. So you might say, in a good democracy, most of the public sphere is something like NPR. Okay, not at that level of kind of, you know, bad taste, but sort of like most of the media is publicly funded. There's a range of ideological views, but there are standing you know, Fox News would not be tolerated in a fight.
functioning democracy, okay. And it's only because you have something other than democratic norms that are governing. That's just a thought just a sort of a thought to put out there. So there's many, many things that aren't worthy of your respect. Okay? deliberate, lying, deliberate falsehood, deception, stoking up of fear and hatred of non white people and all those kinds of things. All right. So then you have to ask yourself, How do I know the difference? What's the difference between climate change denial? And like what shad Hamza was saying, Well, why is it Cofer like that? The kuffaar are there, they're most stuck being right. They're arrogant, they deny what's obvious. They
they invite towards a vise and all these sorts of things. So that's the traditional view, right? That infidelity in that sense, cool photo is like Fox News. Okay, it is active poisoning and destruction of the human brain and the human self. Now, I obviously don't think that and as you know, there are many atheists that think that about religion, right? Religion is active in maturity. Okay, it is actively keeping people in a state of infancy. Okay. Now, why is that not true? It's not obvious that any secular citizen or political philosopher has to adopt any kind of positive attitude towards religion, especially a religion that's based on revelation. That's not like a natural
religion, it's based on authority. It's based on texts that are, one might say, no difference in difference in kind from the Odyssey, or from Melville or something like that. So you have a genuine problem to say, what is it that's going on that says, You are not enslaving yourself? You're not infantilizing yourself, and doing what you're doing, you're exercising something that I respect. Now, what is that? So of course, and qalam, the first obligation of all humans is another, right seeking to refer to or to reflect or to perhaps to seek or or, or the act of searching for these answers. So you might say, that might be also a path to recognizing coffer, right. And here we are
saying, in this in this audience, so that are already as a step towards, towards rethinking some things you might say, you know, Stephen Hawking, he was searching, right, he was looking for things he was using his mind. And that is something that can't be disrespected. So similarly, a
secular citizen or person or philosopher might say, the religious person is
being human, in the most important ways, trying to cultivate virtue, trying to cultivate the things that allow for human life to be livable love, community, commitment, being outside of yourself, and reflecting on the ultimate matters of metaphysical concern. And I think the twist here, and I'll finish my answer with this is that the way that a lot of I think liberal or secular political philosophers handle this is to say, we don't need to evaluate every religion
or every doctrine or every life with this kind of like, rationality meter. Okay? Are you being rational? Are you being rational? Is Mormonism rational? is Islam rational? I think that you take a broader sort of step back, and you say, this kind of activity, of living in communities, cultivating your conception of virtue, finding something that is,
that is that makes life bigger than it would be otherwise? and answering questions that only human beings are able to answer those kinds of activities, or what is valuable and worthy of recognition. And, in general, we don't see these activities as always leading towards the same answer. And so we say that the basic attitude is one of, you know, something different from toleration, but recognition and a kind of reciprocity. And then after that, you say, you reserve your your obligation to say that certain answers to that violate human dignity or violate human reason, or violate the norms that would that would allow people to live together. So it's not that anytime
you're engaging in metaphysical reflection or religious reflection or philosophical reflection, that you are worthy of respect, it's that the general kind of activity unlike differentiating on the basis of race or origin or intellect, is one that is
that is both indicative of human value and one that not everybody tends to tends to agree on through the normal use of reason.
Think, while you listen to the thought that came to me was, you know, unfortunately, the most vocal atheist we have the new atheists, as they're called, you know, the SAM Harris's and the Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens and folks like that. They
promoted this notion that religious people are not just tragic, but dangerous.
I mean, that's very far from the content that you're talking about, of recognizing people who are actually striving for virtue.
I mean, that makes it difficult what I'm saying, right, so I'm not a new a new atheist.
And I don't subscribe to it. But then I should ask myself why. Right? So just the way that you know, you might say, Well, of course, I believe in Islam. And of course, I believe that it's true. So why do I prefer my way of gentle exhortation right here? Why do I prefer that to something that's more aggressive and it's Dawa, or something like that? It's not that I, you know, somebody might say, well, this, this Daya is actually preaching things I think are true. They're being a little too harsh with non Muslims. What's wrong with that? If it's not that what they're saying is false? So I haven't read all of these new atheists. I don't know exactly whether I agree with this or disagree
with that. But there is an interesting question, which is, which is
when we think about how we approach others in the public sphere, what's the difference between what you think is a moral obligation?
And what you think is a question of good taste or prudence.
So you may adopt this kind of strident anti religious attitude?
And I might say, Well, it seems to me a little bit overkill. It seems to me a little bit indiscriminate, you're going to lose, you know, a lump together, you know, Franklin Graham, on the one hand, and, you know, some good religious person on the other hand, right. And it just seems to me that you're, you're, you're, you're you're, you're mistaking what makes these things different, right. And I think it also it leads to a situation in which the only possible answer is apologetics, right? The only possible answer is a standpoint of defense. And it only leads to a kind of, sort of agonistic public sphere, in which even your own principles of science or enlightenment, or whatever
they think that they're defending, they don't become actual things that you're invested in, they become symbols, like, it's often reflected, but us, you know, we want Islamic banking, we want Islamic this, but you know, it becomes an identity marker, more that you've said this yourself a lot more than it becomes an actual thing. So, so my so my attitude towards them would be, you know, insofar as it's an active public dispute, whether climate change is the wrath of God, or as a result of carbon emissions, by all means, defend the rational solution, but this idea that out of all of the things that are causing us harm in the world, you think you're doing something by treating
rationality as an identity marker, as a badge that you wear, rather than as something to be actually
pursued sincerely, and humbly, it just has always struck me as,
as gives me the heebie jeebies to use the technical term. And I think part of that, you know, the identity element is, is has become, I mean, it's always been but it's become so overarching, you know, it just all other considerations are set aside. So now, people identify in groups, I talked about Benny Islam, the idea of, you know, this tribe of Islam.
And, and one of the things is, you know, taking a human being just as a human being in the Moroccans have a beautiful saying, don't hold anybody in contempt, because he might be a friend of God, no matter what their states, you know, they you just don't know people and the idea, this default setting that so many of us have, which is to determine, we want to know what a person believes, so that we can put them in that box of checking it off, it's very quick and easy to do. And so kofod catheter is a nice easy box. And, and, and then, you know, it's it's a it's the man about to jump off the bridge, you know, Oh, do believe in God. Yes. And hamdulillah you know, you know, are you
Are you Sunni? No, I'm Shia jump. You know, it's, it's that idea that, you know, we tend to just look at those things that separate us and not look at those things. That, that, that bring us together.
And I'll just give you one example I was with a group of Jewish rabbis. And I got into a discussion, most of them were reformed. But there was an orthodox woman sitting next to me on the bus. And there was a reformed one in front of me. And we talked about afterlife and about Rabbi Hillel, saying that every Jew had to believe in an afterlife. And, and so the reformed one was making an argument against it. When we got off the bus, the Orthodox rabbi said to me, I feel so much closer to you than I do to that. reformed rabbi, you know, and I think a lot of people, it's very interesting, if you set aside the boxes, you might find that you have much more in common with somebody that might
not be in the same box that you're in that that, that that that you don't. And one other example of this anecdotally Shatner, bin beja, who's the son of chef Abdullah, he grew up in a place where it's 100% Muslim. And they used to have these animals that came, and he said that always the shoe would treat them really well and feed them and they were from Mali. And then when it was drought, and things they would come over. And he said we never looked at them like other than human beings, and that we had a responsibility. But he was so he grew up with that attitude. He went to, to Egypt to study he was in, he was in the University in Cairo. And he was in a building and there was this guy
named Adam gibreel. And Gabriel, they call them uncle Gabriel. And for two years, he used to help them and he helped them navigate Cairo, and he like, remind them of prayer. And this chef comes home, he is an elderly man, he used to kiss him on his forehead. After two years, he found out that he was a Coptic Christian, he had thought the whole time that he was Muslim. And he told me, he said, I wondered how I would have thought of him Had I known initially, that he was a Christian and not a Muslim. And he said, It was such a lesson for me not to judge people based on on other than their character just based on the box that we tend to, to put people into.
Before we close out, I want to get quickly to ask one more question. And then I have a question for all three of you. And we'll wrap it up.
Here on the you wrote a piece in renovatio, about pluralism, outside of this discussion we're talking about just in the in today's society, and part of your message or your
view was that we think we're pluralistic, we have these outward signs of you know, we have our identities, we our skin color, and all that, but there's an inward sort of conformity that we have that you call it as a monoculture of conformity.
Can you talk about that a little bit in terms of like,
how do I get back to people of faith? How do we, you know, view and some of us people of faith are also part of that culture and get lost in that sometimes. So this kind of this, this phenomena of believing we're very pluralistic, when there's actually this monoculture that we're all sort of subscribing to. And I think of all the things that troubles me most is the the inability for increasingly for people to just tolerate, and actually listen to opinions that that they don't agree with. And And increasingly, people are falling into these silos of, you know, what they call echo chambers. And and in fact, one of the, I think terrifying aspects of the internet is that it will
create your own echo chamber. That's, that's for you. So it'll send you only things that you agree with him that you like, through this AI. And so I think
there's a type of conformity that goes on now you have to be fully on the program. If you're right, you have to take the whole right package. And if you're on the left, you have to take the whole left package, and it doesn't leave for nuance. We had a Campbell I think his name was user Republican, he ran for Senate. He was a very complicated Republican, because he was for gun control. He was he was for legalization of marijuana, he had positions that didn't fit into that box. And and people it's very difficult for people to grapple with nuance. And, and so for me, that's a type of conformity. I mean, we had I was just had Dr. Eva Brown here from St. John's. And we're, you know, artificial
constructs came up and she said, I, she said, I really hate that word, artificial constructs. He said, that's just the fact that most people are just sheep.
And they go along with whatever they don't really think about things. They just conform to whatever that dominant thing is, and then it's defined as an artificial construct. It's just people conforming to whatever they grew up in the environment that they grew up.
up in and and I think that's a problem the unexamined life is is is, is a is a is a problem and our religion what what fascinates me about the Quran is arguably the Quran is is a textbook against groupthink because every group in the Quran is misguided.
The only people that are guided in the Quran are individuals. There's no group that's ever guided in the Quran, they're all misguided. And they all have a group think, and they always go up against the individual and throw them in the fire. Kill him, you know, and and, and so it's quite tragic that the Muslims have fallen into a kind of groupthink, where they lose a sense of that don't infantilize people, we're all moral agents, we have to ultimately make decisions on Yom Okayama. You You're judged as an individual, the the judgment of nations is in this world, according to our tradition. But the judgment in the afterlife is an individual judgment, you're not judged as a group. You're
judged as an individual. And one of the things that I see that really troubles me is this collectivization. That's why I don't like using these terms that collectivise people, the Quran says lettuce, it was a rotten wizard O'Hara, I don't want to be associated white supremacy, because I'm not a white supremacist. Just because I'm white, or my skin is white. I don't want to be associated with that. And and that's what collective I, you know, that's what it does. It turns a person into a group, as opposed to a human being an individual. And it's very important that we maintain individuality, because we I am responsible for myself, who I'm who SOCOM, whatever, you can save
your soul, your own selves, and those that you're responsible, like your children to raise them properly, as with good character and these things, but you cannot save the world. And so this idea, and this has caused more human harm this idea that we can go out and save the world, you know, that has killed more people than any other concept. Because all these ideologues that go out and have this collectivist view of reality, they go and they and they say, we'll just need to get rid of these people Pol Pot, everybody that has glasses because they can read get rid of them because we need to start over.
You know, we're always one more revolution from this utopia that never that never comes about. And so I think it's really important for us as individuals to maintain that we are moral agents. Don't infantilize women, don't infantilize. You know, anybody, just humans, each one of us is responsible and God's going to judge, like I can't judge people in terms of their backgrounds and where they came from kidnap in Arabic difference of opinion, if data comes from a word Halawa, what's left behind Kulfi as your background. So the reasons we differ very often are because we have different backgrounds that really do color our ways of understanding reality. So I for me that this idea of
the group, I'm Nietzsche, I think was really right when he said that insanity is is quite unusual in individuals, but it seems to be the norm in groups. And I think there's a lot of truth to that. I mean, you haven't even mentioned that you're talking about nations and groups, but there's this new thing of identity, what's called identity politics to me subgroups, you know, I'm you belong to all these little subgroups. And that's even further sort of separating and infantilizing others in that sense.
I want to end by asking all of you to share your thoughts on particular thing I think I was going to read Altima Shaykh, Hamza, actually, in his introduction, talk, read this, and I had picked out this quote, but I'll read the last part of it again, and ask your question to end this on. This is a quote from Chairman Bayer.
And the part that I just want to read
to you is just our world no longer identified itself in religious terms. Instead, it identified itself through culture, personal and social interest, technologies, covenants, contracts and treaties. But this does not mean that people are not devout and religious. Make no mistake about it. A mistaken diagnosis is fatal. the realities of our context today do not allow for the old categories of religion at the world today is multicultural. And here comes the important part. I think that its contribution of pluralism itself, a virtue, provides immense opportunities for humanity to achieve a lasting and natural state of peace.
So my question to all of you is to leave us with this. Your thoughts on if you're living in a multicultural, pluralistic world, which is itself a virtue and it has immense opportunities? Then the question is, what advice do you have for people of faith Muslims, but all other people of faith?
What can each of us do as
practical matter that would go beyond simple toleration and help us see the humanity of all people regardless of, of their beliefs. How can we? What steps can we take towards do that? What advice do you have for people? And if you want to go first, and we can go this way? Right, so I think that there's this conundrum, which is that,
because we're all moral agents, whatever other set of beliefs and commitments we have, are going to be part of our understanding of ourselves. And because we are social and political agents, it is natural, that we're going to want to act on our moral commitments
in the world, right? We don't have to want to save the world in a utopian sense. But hopefully, we all want to
improve it in some way. So you have I think, this conundrum, which is, we all have this sense of how we would want the world to look, we have a sense of what our teaching tells us how the world ought to look. And I think that there are a set of very, very hard choices, which is to say, let's say from a liberal secular perspective, I love it. When the Catholic nuns wanted to boycott grapes with Cesar Chavez, or when religious people want to donate money to charity or fight for universal health care. I don't like it when the same religious people want to prevent same sex marriage, or do other kinds of things in the realm of morality. But where does that distinction come from? Right, so I, is
it just my own secular prejudices that say, this is good Religious Action? This is bad Religious Action? Or can I give some account of why there are certain kinds of distinctions are reasonable? And so the only thing I would say is that without saying, here's this obvious answer, here's this clear secular distinction between the public and the private, or between what's good and bad, I would just say, I think it's really, really important to say that, just as Muslims living in a country like America, want the rest of the country to chill out a little bit on Muslim things, right? To Be very careful about how you talk about the hijab, how you draw, you know, if you do
this, then you must believe in this. So Muslims, there are very, very clear that public power can be an atrocious thing. And yet Muslims quite reasonably, and I think, admirably want to act in the world, they are commanded to command the right and forbid the wrong. And yet, being a responsible political actor also involves exercising your faculty of judgment. And so I have my answers. But I would just say I am fascinated by the by the possibilities for this conversation, to continue as to why
making other people's lives better in some ways, but not other ways, is a legitimate kind of political activity. And what's changed in the modern period? What's changed today, and how from, from a religious perspective, you make those distinctions between helping other people's achievement of worldly and bodily and material welfare, but leaving aspects of their intimate welfare or their spiritual welfare for them to work out. It's not an obvious distinction. Muslims are not wrong, when they don't make that same distinction. There's no fact in the world, but it's a public conversation. That is crucial. And it's something that I think is just developing in the in the public sphere in
America. And I look forward to seeing how people argue about that. And you want people to participate in the conversation? Absolutely. Okay. Are you going? Well, I would just say one of the important things when we think about that particular quote, that you just read in the importance of pluralism, the way that the pluralism is a benefit
is, is precisely it benefits society in precisely the opposite, as well as the counterpart to the silos that you were talking about. societies are stronger reasoning is stronger when you reason in the presence of other people and have to listen to their truth. There's a refinement of argumentation.
And so one of the things that people need to be prepared to do to take advantage of pluralism especially for the idea of coming to a common understanding of what our boundaries were, to what extent are we allowed to put our ideas forward in society even as recommendations for other people and when do we need to pull back and say that's private. Those things in a society can only be worked out in conversation with the other person. They can never be developed in a silo, they can never be developed. And you know, when you
Look at societies that, historically speaking have been strong. They've been strong precisely because they have been open to difference. I mean, one of the things that made the Muslim Empire so strong in the classical period was that it had all of these people with so many different ethnicities, different ways of thinking about the religion, there's never one specific orthodox theology, never one school of law, there was a recognition that difference made you stronger, that it helped to refine your thinking, I provided a critique, it provided a mirror rided a check on your own thinking. And I think that is something that made America very strong, at a certain point that
it it embraced people from different perspectives. And so this,
you know, what today we think of as a monoculture didn't always have to be like that it could be something that was indeed a kind of culture that transcended your difference. But that was, in fact, developed precisely out of the interaction of people negotiating their differences. It was generated from that difference, but in a very positive and productive fashion, not in a negative fashion, not something that forced people to sort of run away. And I think that the silos are created, in part because our reality is created virtually. So sometimes, even though I think Fox News would be happy to understand themselves as kuffar, for the most part, they probably even have a license plate.
Yeah, yeah, or whatever the hat kind of thing. But sometimes I do this, I sort of, you know, I read the news that I normally read, you know, in the New York Times, or the Washington Post, and then I think, I see people around me who hold points of view, and I think, how can they possibly hold that point of view? And then I go, and I read Fox News. And I say, Oh, well, that's why they hold that point of view. Because the what we read creates our reality, we don't interact with people the way that we used to, certainly the way people did even a few decades ago. And that's what's missing. That's what's lost. And I think that's what has to be recovered. And that's the hope that a
pluralistic society has unfortunately, I mean, a pluralistic society can precisely force people into their silos. And there's a fear of encountering the other, there's a fear of having your views reflected back to you, in the eyes, or in the words of someone holds a very different point of view that can be very disturbing thing to hear. And so there is a kind of natural tendency among some people to flee to those echo chambers. But I think that's what we have to continuously resist. Okay, it comes, you know, I would, I think that one of the most important things to cultivate, as individuals and society is, is humility. And I think that people
people will to, quote,
a Nobel laureate, the,
the rules of the game have been lodged, the rules of the road had been large, it's only people's games that you have to dodge, that we have a sense of what is civil and what is right, and then there's people that don't play by those rules. And, and those people, they need to be seen for what they are as people that actually threaten civil discourse. And, and, and, and, and it's something very dangerous for a society that wants to use persuasion, as the means in which they do things. Now obviously, there's a lot of can't there's many cans of worms that can be opened with this, because when you have societies that view things as unjust, then do we do we rebel to and and certainly in,
in, in, in western civilization. rebellion became a very important aspect. I mean, the Cromwellian disobedience to tyrants is obedience to God in the Muslim version of that was to have a tyrant for 60 years, oppressing you is better than anarchie. And, and so very different perspectives that came up, which is why so much of the Muslim world ended up becoming despotic because there really was a very great fear of anarchy and what happens when rebellion, but in our, in our culture here, we have a system that's working relatively well we have a lot of problems. And and we have to feel blessed to be in a civil society
in America, that that we really have to cherish what we have and work
To make it better, but this, we can see around the world where things break down how terrible it becomes. And unfortunately, sometimes our country has a role in where things have broken down. And those are things that we have a responsibility of citizens in this country to fight against. But I think just a humility is really important. One of the things that fallibilism in religious understanding is extremely important to inculcate into young people that I can I can be convinced of the truth of my religion, but I should be very, very wary of my certainty about my understanding of that religion. And and when we irrigate to ourselves, God's understanding, that's when all the
problems come out of religion. And one of the most beautiful things about our tradition is that the Mufti was
inside Buhari, the prophet prohibited saying that this is God's judgment when you make a judgment. He and Omar bin al Shabaab, once his scribe wrote, this is what God has shown Omar, and he said, erase that and right, this is what Omar thinks, right? Because they understood that they can't speak for God, that all they can do is say, I think this is what God may have meant. And this is my judgment in this stage, but I could be wrong. And so that fallibilism was very important. Imam Shafi, he said, I never debated anyone, except I prayed that God would manifest the truth on his tongue, so I could submit to it. And he also said that, that I always when I got into a debate with
my interlocutor, I, I believe my position is right, but it could be wrong. And I believe his position is wrong, but it could be right, that humility of fallibilism that that I might learn something is really important to inculcate in people that because certainty, we should have certainty, like I said, about our faith is very important, but certainty about our understanding is very dangerous. And the beauty of the tradition was every Mufti always put at the end of his judgment, and God knows better Hello, I know that. I, this is the best I can do. That's usually hard. But God knows better. And so I think that aspect of just restoring a basic humility, to our
religious traditions, about who we are, and what we know and is, is really important and and humility, according to the Quran, it is the virtue that will enable you to see the truth. And arrogance is is the device that will prevent you from seeing the truth. I mean, that's that's that, and humility. Just to clarify humility, in your mind also doesn't mean that humility means not to sit in judgment to be too quick to judge others. Well, does it not? I mean, we judgment is, you know, we have to make judgment, discrimination is judgment. So I'm not saying don't don't make judgments, but make sure those judgments are based on, on sound reasoning.
opinions, you know, something, the Greeks had the concept of sound opinion, and Doakes as opposed to unsound opinion that, that knowledge is one thing and opinion and opinion is important. But your opinion should be reasonable. There's a lot of people that we have opinions. And one of the things I read with the freshmen in the freshman seminar was a essay on PBS, which is, which are, you know, he argues that there's so much of it in the world, because everybody thinks they have to have an opinion about everything, without thinking about it. And so it's it's just important that we, we, we know what we're talking about, and we're willing Emma Matic said, half of knowledge is saying, I
don't know, just being able to say, I don't know, being able to say, you know, I don't I don't have an opinion on that, because I haven't studied it. I don't know the issue. And and I think people take very superficial and glib, you know, I'm coining a new word and there's so many glib stirs out there, just the, you know, glib, you heard it here for as club stirs. You know, glibness is a type of it's, it's a fluidity that is shallow, superficial, and characterized by insincerity. And there's just too much glibness out there of just having opinions about things that you really haven't thought about
us. And it's amazing what they'll say. And then if you say, Have you ever read the Quran, and that's why I'd recommend reading Gary wills for people that, you know, he wrote a book called,
what the Koran means and why it matters. And he's a public intellectual. He won the Pulitzer Prize. He's very well regarded. But he wrote that book because he was in a gathering once and they were all trashing Islam.
And then somebody looked at him and said, well, Gary, you must have read the Quran, what do you think it means?
And and he felt ashamed that he'd never read the Quran. And so he decided to study and he actually used the study of Quran as the basis. And he spent, I think, a year studying the Koran and the book is the result of it. And he was shocked at
what, what he realized about the book itself. And so I think, again, that that just is a testimony to his humility, of saying, you know what, I've never read the Koran. I don't really know. I mean, I saw Thomas Sowell, once somebody asked him about Islam, and he said, You know, I'm probably the only person in America that's not an expert on Islam. I'm just gonna have to say, I don't know. Right.
I want to thank all of you for coming and all those online. Could you please join me in giving a round of applause for our speakers?