There is no difference between an Arab and a non Arab
Channel: Jonathan Brown
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with the bananas you're calling that a James Hoffman Rahim and and hamdulillah Rena Stein. Wa Salatu was Salam ala l Mursaleen. Allah Allah He was on he is married.
Thank you very much for inviting me and giving me a chance to speak to you. It's I don't think I ever get used to standing on the same podium with people whose lectures I used to watch when I was, you know, a new Muslim in the late 1990s.
But I'll do my best to take advantage of being up here.
I was asked to speak about
this idea in academic Amendola here at Koco. Indeed, the most noble amongst you in God's eyes is the one with the most piety
in the context of America. And the context actually, unfortunately of the Muslim world in many parts of the Muslim world. What this brings up most immediately into my mind is issue of race.
I don't think it's putting it to Tralee to say that racism is a despicable and ignorant phenomenon. It's ignorant because the idea of judging somebody by their outer appearance
undervalues dismisses everything that's good about a human being on the inside, their personality, their character, their relationships, the knowledge, they have the wisdom, they have to offer their skills. And I think one of the best ways to be cured of racism, at least for a moment, or at least for one person, is for Muslims to meet Muslim scholars, people who are glowing with knowledge, who have tremendous Eman was Baraka can be sensed. And what you immediately realize is, it doesn't matter what this person looks like to you, it doesn't matter what color their skin is, because you love them for what they carry, what they bear and who they are. This is, for me, one of the most
important things as a kind of
arrogant white person, right, former arrogant white person, I wonder if there's an acronym for that.
You know, I really,
I think maybe learn to be more humble. When I study with Muslim scholars in Egypt and other places. And I realized this people knew so much more than me, that I didn't even know where to begin to be like them. And when I had that experience, it didn't matter to me that this person was from another country or, or a different race or spoke a different language. I just had utter admiration for these people. I think this is a wonderful experience that you can have as a Muslim.
Racism is, is despicable. And we know this from the Sunnah of the Prophet lays out Saddam.
At one point, some members from the house in the husband's tribe from the anzar, were getting in a fight. He got an argument about their ancestry and their tribal pride during one of their Muslim campaigns. And the province came out and said, Have a mountain. This is muntin. Winton is a word in Arabic means filthy, stinky, this vile and despicable. It's one of the few times I think maybe one of the only times that we have a record of the Prophet using this word, this very strong word. And he uses it to describe people's pride in their race.
This is a extremely important issue for the American Muslim community, because
American Muslims have tremendous assets, tremendous resource in the African American community, and African American Muslim community. And unfortunately, it's still too common amongst Muslims who are from immigrant backgrounds or second generation immigrants, or random white converts, like me, is far too common. That Muslims who are from these backgrounds looked down on African American Muslims
that they don't think that they're worthy of spending time with they think that they're, you know, they're not important because they're, they're poor because they they're, they speak differently. This is a this is pure and simple racism is absolutely unacceptable for Muslims in this country. And it's also a serious, tremendous waste of resources, because it's the African American Muslim community, who has the key holds the key to Muslims in this country for their their way forward in the future.
Muslims in this country are concerned about becoming recognized parts of this country, recognize citizens to having their interests their concerns, taken seriously by policymakers by the wider society.
All American Muslims are interested in protecting their civil liberties, protecting their rights before the law. These are all journeys. These are all struggles the African American community has already begun, has made tremendous progress in and continues to struggle in today. Just before I came up here, I was speaking on the stage to Imam Johari, Abdul Malik an imam here in DC, I learned more in just five or six minutes talking to him about organizing about bringing Muslim, how a group comes together to gain influence to gain power to try and change the society around them. I learned more from just five minutes speaking to him than I could ever get reading books, or I could ever get
speaking to any other Muslims I know.
Because he comes out of the background of people who've already done this for decades.
This is a tremendous resource for us. When I when I think about scholars in America and Muslim scholars, I think of people like Dr. Sherman Jackson,
a University of Southern California, a person who is an extremely learned Muslim scholar who learns learn Fick and theology and grammar and all the Islamic sciences, but also comes from the from an American background. And when he speaks about issues of ethics, and belief and freedom in this country, people have to listen, not just Muslims, non Muslims have to listen. If a Muslim who's of Arab background or South Asian background gets up and starts criticizing American foreign policy, or calling into question the decisions of the US government or the Justice Department, people think that they treat them with suspicion. When African American gets up and says these things, people
treat them, as someone who has a right to sake make these criticisms, as someone who has comes from a group that has been historically wronged.
This is a tremendously valuable asset.
These individuals in this part of our community are absolutely important and essential for the rest of the Muslim community to embrace. In fact, they are essential to be our leaders. Muslims need to look to African American Muslims for leadership, not only in scholarship, but in organization and civil rights activism.
The second thing I want to speak about has to do with the same issue of
a finding leaders who are going to help you stand up for your principles and stand up for your communal interests, who aren't going to allow, let's say, individual leaders to go and break with what is for the benefit of the Muslim community, what is true in our religion, just so that they can get some material gain or get invited to some dinner or get in a photograph with some politician. Okay, most important thing for moving forward as a Muslim community is standing together.
And not being afraid to speak and stand up for the truth.
there's so many things that Muslims care about so many issues, whether it's what's happening in Kashmir, whether it's happening in Palestine, whether what's happening in other parts of the Muslim world, what's happening with the Rohingya Muslims, or whether it's here in America, whether it's the Muslims who are
targeted for entrapment by the Justice Department, or whether it's Muslims who are convicted of crimes that they didn't commit, because the justice system is biased against them, because racism, and stereotypes against Muslims are allowed to influence the outcome, outcome of trials. These are all things that Muslims care about as extremely important issues. But there are also things that are terrifying to speak about. It's very, it's scary to get up and speak out about Palestine. It's scary to get up and speak about how Muslims who are accused of terrorism might not be guilty, and that we need to give them the benefit of the doubt.
We need to people need to have trials, it's scary to talk about criticizing the way a trial goes, or the way the justice department works. This is very scary thing to do.
But it's also absolutely important for Muslims to do. And it's our rights as Americans.
If you want to ask random American person to give up their right to criticize the government, or to criticize a certain policy, or to say that they think that injustice had been done by law enforcement, people would not give that right up. They say no, it's my right as an American to do these things. Yet. Muslims are all too often completely silent on these issues are silent because they're afraid.
But fear is only an emotion. Fear is an impression that is created in you. It's used to control people. It's used to prevent them from asking what's that? Right, what is rightfully theirs? Is American Muslims right? To have an influence or an input on the policies that our government pursues, whether inside this country or outside this country. It's our right to expect to be
protected by law enforcement not targeted by it.
But until Muslims are willing to stand up courageously and speak about these issues, and to stand together in solidarity, when one of their number is targeted, there will be no progress made on these issues.
I won't take any more of your time.
But I will simply leave you with what for me was absolutely essential lesson to learn.
The people in the Muslim community who are so often looked down upon in this country, African American Muslims. Not only are they brothers and sisters who have every right in Islam,
to be treated just like Muslim immigrant backgrounds, okay, who deserves every to be integrated into activities with muscles or immigrant backgrounds, but there are also people who should be looked to for leadership.
And this is something that, for me has been inspirational, which I hope will, you'll follow as well. Exactly.