Channel: Lauren Booth
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Salam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. Wherever you are in the world.
I pray that you are having a peaceful day and it's an absolute honor to be here with you. I'm in Istanbul. My name is Lauren booth. I'm a journalist, and author. And I'm joined by a very special guest today, who is going to be discussing his book the humanity of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him and the surprise Tada is that the author, Dr. Craig Considine, is not Muslim, but he writes about the humanity of Muhammad. Without further ado, I'm going to say salaam to you Peace to you, Craig, greetings of peace. Lauren, it's such a pleasure to be here with you today. And I'm wishing peace to all who are tuning in today as well.
First of all, congratulations on the birth of your baby daughter, who is two months old, but unless you're wearing makeup, which I doubt, you don't have baggy eyes, tell us what's going on. There's something going on. Well, we have been absolutely blessed. God has brought little Clara Bella into our world named after actually St. St. Clair, who was a contemporary of St. Francis, who is the Catholic saint who the pope named himself after. And Clara has been just a total beauty and
words really don't just, you know, can't capture it. Lauren, you know, just how precious it is. And it really is it's humbling as well I mean, the power of life and the the sacredness of life and having to
bring in a human being into this world with with softness and care and compassion. So, you know, thank God, everything has been great. She's healthy. Miriam is healthy. And yeah, we are actually sleeping, if you can believe that. She's she's actually in a in a routine and a schedule, and I'm actually sleeping, I can't believe it. I just thank God, that's all I can do. That's it. That's all you have to do with with your, your sleeping after eight weeks, mashallah, congratulations, we're all really happy for you. I want to ask lots of open ended questions so that you can really describe your work. So tell us about what is your work? And what is your personal face.
So if I had to kind of capture what my work is, in one word, I think it would be humanity. And when I think about humanity, I think about
not only God creating us, and when I mean us, I mean all of creation, you know, in His image.
Human beings being human beings before any other identity category, you know, and coming with this is basic things like you know, human dignity, and respect. So like, for me, humanity is not only my calling as a Catholic, I'm a Catholic, and I was born and raised Catholic, not only my calling to be a Christian, but we also see humanity suffering at the moment, and suffering in many different ways. You know, I was just reading
Pope Francis's Fratelli tutti, which he published a week and a half ago, an extraordinary document that talks about how we have fallen as a human species, really. And he uses terms like you know, we live in a broken world. And there's a famous Old Testament, saying, Tikun Olam, which is to heal a fractured world. And Pope Francis doesn't use these words, literally. But that's kind of what motivates me to chip away at some of this brokenness that we see in the world, some of the division and, you know, I'm not,
I don't have a lot of resources, and I don't have a lot of power. But what I tried to do is I try to contribute to the betterment of humanity through the prism of Christian and Muslim relations. And we know that Christians and Muslims, if you add these two populations together, we make up half of the world's population.
And we know, really, in history, there have been moments in time where Christians and Muslims have not only coexisted, but they've flourished together. But we've also had moments in time where things have gone in the in the opposite way.
So really, what I'm trying to do is to
bolster and to safeguard our common humanity, really. And I think if I were to break this down a little bit further, you know, for me,
things that are important in safeguarding humanity are things like freedom of conscious, you know, the ability to
feel and think which you want to feel and think without persecution. So long as you're, you know, your thoughts aren't infringing upon others rights. I also think about, you know, freedom of worship, freedom of religion. And these are the things sadly, Lauren, like, if we look at Muslims living in
the so called Western world, we see some of these fundamental human rights being violated. And then if we flipped it, and we looked at Christians living in Muslim majority countries, it's kind of the same picture, which is kind of really sad, if you think about it, you know, there aren't. There are a few ideal
countries in the world in terms of, you know, freedom of religion, and freedom of worship and freedom of conscious. So these are the things that motivate me, first and foremost as a human being. And then, of course, I'm Christian, and I'm also an American citizen, and I'm also of Irish and Italian descent. So all of these layers to my identity inform my my position on humanity itself.
Subhanallah, that is a mission finding you I think, rather than you finding a mission, you didn't necessarily want to head in that direction. How did you begin to be a pilgrim on a process of finding out about the world's number one,
you know, is fearful religion, Islam?
Well, Lauren, you first of all, I love the terms you use, you know, this, this, like life being a pilgrimage, and us as individuals being pilgrims. I really love that. And it's humbling. And it really kind of puts things into perspective.
it's hard to identify one moment in time, in which the light bulb kind of went off, it was more of a process. But it did start on 911. And everyone knows what happens on that day. But for me, as a 16 year old, growing up in Boston, around
predominantly Christians, with a small Jewish population and also predominantly white, Western European ancestry, I had pretty much no context, to make sense of something like the events of 911. But more importantly, the media narratives that were coming out of it because
Westerners and Americans, especially we're fed a constant barrage of Islamophobic narratives. No, this religion is antithetical to Western values. These groups of Muslims
attacked us because they don't like our way of life. You know, these were the things that were fed to us. And I had no, I had no way of making sense of it. Because I had never met a Muslim in my life. I had never been to a mosque. I had never studied Islam and Catholic school, and they never taught us Islamic history, and public school. So when it came time for me to go to college, obviously, you have to pick a major. And the invasion of Iraq happened in 2003. And I was a freshman. And for whatever reason, again,
something inside of me, kind of raised the flag and something seems really off and wrong about what was happening. And I started to question, you know,
some some macro level international relation type issue. So I go to Washington, DC. I enroll in Arabic courses, and I enroll in all of these security courses, to try to figure out why something like 911 happened. And I was hoping to get into the diplomatic sphere, like the State Department or in the intelligence, that's kind of where I was, I was going, and thank God, I enrolled in Professor Akbar, Ahmed's world of Islam class. So that was the first time I think I ever at least consciously saw and was in the presence of another Muslim and he was it and he was the professor. And the first couple minutes of class. He's not talking about al Qaeda, the Taliban, Saddam Iraq, all this stuff.
He just starts talking about the importance of knowledge in the Islamic tradition. And then he started dropping some specific quotes of Muhammad. And I, for again, I thank God because the light went off inside of me. And I became, you know, I was almost Lauren, I was almost,
when he opened my mind to these possibilities, I almost felt duped. I almost felt like my brain and my heart and my soul had been kind of hijacked. And it became really personal to me, because he's basically saying, you know, you have your own mind, you know, you can make a difference you're in, you're in control of, of your, your conscious. And for me, that's what sparked this, it was a love of knowledge. It was, it was as simple as that. And it still is, to this day, it's a love of knowledge. And the power that knowledge can have not only as on me as an individual, but if I have this knowledge, and I can share this knowledge. What can we do with this knowledge together? So
it's an unknown.
I wanted to have, sorry, carry on. I wanted to know how much unlikely journey it is. But actually, it's very likely because when you keep saying, you know, phrases, like the light went on, something called to me, there was a realization, you know, what your feeling is, you know, Qatar, Allah, your, your feeling Allah's, you know, God's grace in your life? Is that how you describe it? Yeah, I mean, 100%. And,
you know, it was quite remarkable.
Engaging in studies of a different faith, you know, engaging in studies about Islam and Christian and Muslim relations,
actually encouraged me to think more critically about the religion that I was born and raised into. And, you know, when God became a lot bigger to me, than just the Christian understanding of God, you know, because, like most people in the world, you know, like your, and I don't mean this in a, in a negative way. But, you know, we are indoctrinated in many ways, you know, like, this is, this is what the religion is, and like, this is the truth. And this is just the way it is. And don't question I know, for Catholics, at least the environment I grew up in, you know, you just go to CCD, and you don't ask questions, but I was asking questions, and I became really interested, you know,
what, what is this image or perception or understanding of God, according to Muslims? How do they see it? And the more I studied it,
the closer I felt,
that these expressions of God were also quite similar to my understandings of God. And then that became a beautiful thing, you know, when you can start thinking about how you see God, how you experience God, and then you have people who you've been told, or your enemies actually see God in the same way. And then again, that became powerful to me.
And it kinda
it. It pushes us to experience and understand positions that are unfamiliar to us, you know, go out there and, and learn about other religions, because it actually makes you stronger. I think it makes you a more knowledgeable person.
Yeah, well, hello. I was just thinking while he was speaking about that feeling of being duped by society, and by the media, can actually leave us quite angry.
And the other aspect I was wanting to look at with you is that most people today if they put in, if any of us, right, go into Google Now and put in Islam and peace, unfortunately, and deliberately, the first 25 rankings, that's the first three pages will be Islam is not peace, Islam as intolerant Islam as they've all been taken over by
anti Muslim sites. And what do you say about about that? And how does that how does that feel reading this? I compare it like this. It's like going anybody who reads those sites, unfortunately, it's like going to a bike store and saying, Can I have a car please? And the bike guys, how was that? How is the bicycle seller going to tell you anything good about a car. Right? And so we go to anti Muslim sites to find out about Islam. Yeah, it's, it's very dangerous. And you know, the internet and social media in many ways is is a gift and a curse because you
In this sense, you know, anyone can post anything. And it's just not fact checked. And, you know, people can even hide anonymously behind fake names, you know, like some of these websites, Lauren, that you mentioned, you know, I'm familiar with some of them. And yeah, I mean, who like, Are these people even, you know, who are these people? Basically, you know, but I think it brings us to
a really kind of fundamental question. And I've been bringing this up increasingly in talks, and I've been thinking a lot about it, but I need to grapple with it even more, but it's something related to this.
There could be evidence, okay, so some of these authors who are writing on these websites, you know, they go, and they find evidence, quotes to, further this idea that Islam is incompatible with Christianity, Islam is incompatible with the West, and so on, so forth. But there's also an abundance of knowledge and information that can be used to further understanding and to build bridges of understanding. So there's something happening with in the psyche of certain human beings, where they they choose, it's almost like willful, not willful ignorance, but they're choosing almost to be ignorant, they actually don't want to look at the material that can bring us to a common
ground. And I think that raises a deeper kind of,
I don't know if it's like a spiritual crisis. But I just find it interesting that the human human nature can work that way. You know, like, why are we choosing separation? Why are we choosing animosity,
when we can actually be looking to material that can do the opposite. I find it I find it it's, it's strange. We have we have an understanding from the Holy Quran, and I'm sure shirts and other scriptures as well, that God pulls down the veils in front of peoples who, whose hearts are not willing or ready to go the extra mile, which is why, when you're guided to knowledge, it is an opening. So we have an opening, a lifting of the veil, and a closing of the veil. So literally, sometimes you feel like you're banging your head against a wall.
When you accepted,
unlike many, from the West, unfortunately, Islamic scholarship, and Islamic historical sources, as the roots of knowledge about the life of the prophet Muhammad, tell us about your journey with those sources and the Hadith.
So when I first engaged in, you know, the journey of scholarship, I was focusing primarily on issues pertaining to international relations and politics. So like my BA, and my masters, were focusing on the issues that are linked to this clash of civilizations, you know, and that I was kind of promoting the Dialogue of Civilizations and looking at Islamic history, and looking at the Quran and Islamic principles in a way that would be more familiar to Christians and Westerners. So
Prophet Muhammad was actually not someone that I
researched a lot in my early years as a researcher, it wasn't until 2013 When John Andrew Morrow, a Canadian Muslim, wrote the book The the covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians Of The World. And for me, that book, it's probably a top five book that I've ever read. And not only is it you know, brilliantly written, but it's also a absolute goldmine. When we think about
the necessary stories that could help us build bridges of understanding. So the the covenants,
you know, and there's a lot of debate among the scholars about the covenants and John does a really good job much better than I could do, talking about the historicity and the authenticity of these covenants. But this is what sparked my interest in Muhammad as not merely as a prophet, but as a as a statesman. As
as a husband as a dad, as
A cross cultural navigator, which is a term that I like to use. So I started looking at, you know, how could he become more familiar to me. And then I start engaging in, you know, deeper scholarship and getting into not only the Syrah,
the Hadith, and the Koran and all this, but like also looking at how other Muslims and also Christians, how they perceive his life, you know, so I started getting into, I found some of the books by Karen Armstrong, just different, you know, just different. And it wasn't kind of loaded with,
like theology and dogma, you know, it wasn't about, you know, Muhammad is the final prophet. And then that's it. She She humanized him, you know, and she told stories, and I, that really resonated with me. And then, you know, I kept reading some, some awesome books lately. I don't know if you're familiar, Lauren, with Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, and he wrote a book, the prophet of peace, and it explores Muhammad's relations, kind of straddled in between the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire. And he talks about
cold us how Muhammad was more aligned with Christians than anyone else. So you know, these books and the scholarship, all the stuff that's coming out, it continues to inspire me for sure. And like my next book, which comes out in May 2021. It's called People of the Book Prophet Muhammad encounters with Christians. And I think this is one of the first books really, that provides a biography of Muhammad told through the prism of his interactions with Christians. And it's just stories. So wonderful. In fact, that brings me to because that's one of the first chapters of your book actually, is the Prophet peace be upon him, and his interactions with the Christian Christian
community? Share with us a couple of the stories that that you tell the your Christian fellows that they need to know about how the Prophet treated delegations that came to Medina, for example, or the covenants that he made with various communities in his lifetimes panel. So the humanity of Muhammad Christian view, this book is
much smaller in depth than the people of the book, that one is much more in depth, but I do share some particular stories in the humanity of Muhammad and one that I think resonates with Christians and Muslims. And hopefully, everyone really, is the
story linked to the Nigerian delegation not drawn is a city or was a city
in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, and it was not drawn was it was a Christian city for
a couple 100 years prior to the coming of Muhammad. And around the year 630, Muhammad is, you know, establishing his ummah, establishing his nation, and he was the head of this nation. And he was sending out, you know, letters to other nations and rulers kind of just announcing who he was, this is what he stood for. And he invited the Christians have not drawn to visit Masjid on the Bowery in Medina. And the story, you know, according to the historical sources is a phenomenal one because not only did Muhammad you know, tolerate Christians, we know he did, because he invited them and they were inside the mosque, but gauged in a critical dialogue on Christ ology.
Not easy, you know, it's still not easy, and that was a long time ago. But they basically agreed to disagree in a civil manner. You know, having civil conversations, it seems like something that doesn't really happen anymore, but they engaged in one. And then we also learned that Muhammad invited them and welcomed the Christians have not drawn to potentially use mustard on the Bowery if they wanted, the Christians wanted to pray. And for me, that is really an extraordinary act, even today. You know, some Muslims think that that is not, you know, halal, it's not kosher. And Christians may say, Well, what will Why doesn't it happen today, you know, and it's kind of used as
a as another way of kind of spreading Islamophobia but I find that going the extra mile is what he did. I find today we need more acts like this to go the extra mile because, and I talked about this in the book, tolerance is not enough anymore, and I'm you and I'm borrowing
This, this idea from Professor Diana Eck of Harvard. And she says that if we merely tolerate each other, we don't actually get to know one another. We don't grapple with the big picture issues. And just tolerating each other, we actually can reproduce some of the stereotypes and the divisions of one another. But when we engage in things like you know, opening up spaces of places of worship, so the so called other can come in and, and be welcomed into pray. I find that very, very powerful. And that's the I think that's the number one story in the book
in regards to religious pluralism, and the Christians have of his time, but I will say this to Lauren, the, the story of the first hijra,
is very powerful for me as well. And even though Muhammad did not make the journey to Abyssinia, I think the amount of faith that he had in a Christian ruler is truly remarkable. I mean, if you think about it, right, so, Muhammad's family and friends and closest, some of the closest companions are facing persecution. Muhammad had so much confidence and faith in the rulers of Abyssinia. He told them, get on a boat, crossed the Red Sea, leave everything behind everything, and you have no idea what's going to happen to you and adversity. It really I mean, Muhammad had, he knew, but they didn't know. And, you know, we know through the historical sources, what happened in Abyssinia
between the believers and
the the Christian king had been up jar and his in his rulers, you know, wasn't over it. Don't let just jump over. I want you to describe that moment. Have you seen the film The message I have? That moment is actually one of the most touching, because it's it's very beautifully treated those kinds of music, gentle sounds across it. And you're really in the moment. So please remind us what happened at that moment because it's really pivotal in the history of Islam's growth. Well, so the Yeah, and by the way, that movie is amazing. And I've taken clips of it and I've posted it online, but you know, the the believers are in the court of the Abyssinian King King, Jr. and the the first
visit that they had was more in in line with what we saw with mustard on the bar, we they're talking about
high level theological issues, and the king asks,
Jafar, he was like No, well, who are you? What do you believe in and Jafar gives King even ajar some verses of the Quran largely around Jesus and Mary. And King had been up jar, you know, was was overcome really, with with emotion, and happiness. And you know, some of the historical sources say like, even some of the bishops were had tears in their eyes, and the tears fell down onto the manuscripts and the manuscripts became like, soggy.
But the second part of the story
in terms of the the first hijra, is when the the Quraysh. And the believers were both in the presence of the king, and the Quraysh. Leaders. At the time, were trying to dehumanize the believers and really paint the believers as your criminals. And long story short, the King had been absorbed or believed in the goodness and the truth that the believers were presenting to him. And King Abdullah was seeing the creation saying, Something's fishy with these people, you know, they're up to something probably conniving. And King Abdullah said, not for a mountain of gold. Will I give the believers up to you? And he said that to the Quraysh, which when we talk about a modern context, you
know, when we talk about the importance of ally ship,
King Ivanov, Jr. is actually going beyond ally ship. He's actually putting himself on the line. Because imagine if the Quraysh you know, said, well, we don't like your decision. We're gonna we're gonna attack you that could have easily happened to King Edmund, I'm sure but he was willing to risk his own well being to defend these people. And, again, these are extraordinary stories. Mohammed wasn't there in King even outdoors court, but he was there in spirit for sure.
And this is, of course, a beautiful moment, and then we come to later
Christianity and its approach to the Islamic prophet of peace, who you describe as a mercy for mankind. In your writing, you've been asked, you know, what would it what is it you find in the Prophet and you sit, you say, I find you he is a, you know, a guide, and a mercy to mankind. But of course, traditionally, and to this day, Christianity sees Muhammad peace be upon him as a heretic. How do you negotiate that both within yourself, and also within your, your wider community.
So unfortunately, Muhammad has been,
I think, wrongly depicted from from the get go, like some of the earliest Christian Byzantine writings on Muhammad were, you know, overtly sensational. And it's really dangerous when the first narrative comes out. And the first narrative is a bad one, it's kind of hard, it's kind of hard to recover.
And unfortunately, a lot of the early Christian writers, and indeed, the early Christian leaders and communities never met Muhammad. So this is also a significant issue, because we see this even today, you know, like people, hate groups of people, even though they've never met members of these groups. You know, it's like hating, and I'm guilty of this hating a food that you've never tasted before. It happens. But unfortunately, the, the narratives did not start well. For for Muhammad, but, you know, thank God, there have been
scholars and leaders over time, that have worked to shed a more humane light on Muhammad's life, and legacy. And if you're familiar with Hans Kohn, he's a, a Swiss Catholic theologian. And he's quite controversial, I don't think he is allowed on behalf of the Catholic Church to kind of teach anymore.
Hans Kang has also identified Prophet Muhammad as a as a prophet. And Hans Cohn is a Christian. And this is a position that I started taking, I think, in my 2015, I was still writing for The Huffington Post. And I said, I have no, I have no issue in saying Muhammad is a prophet. And I've publicly stated this, and I've been transparent with it, I do consider him a prophet. And, obviously, this links to something very subjective, which is my definition of a prophet. And, you know, whether people like it or not, I mean, that's kind of how I position myself like, I have a belief on what a prophet is, I'm not going to the Catholic Church or any other institution, to
provide me with the definition of what a prophet is and what is not. So it's a bit unorthodox in this way. And I'm not trying to deliberately rebel against institutions. It's I'm not really a rebel like that. But this is this is my belief. And
it is a controversial one, obviously, because if you look at scripture,
you can easily find in the Quran, some passages which speak about the Trinity, and how the Trinity is excess, right? It's going it's going too far. And I actually don't have any real problem with that. Because when you actually dig into the scholarship, and the history of the Trinity, and this is probably controversial. But if you look at the the history,
we see that the Trinity did not become like codified until 325, which is the Council of Nicaea. Now, let me be clear, as well, Lauren, like that also doesn't mean that I don't believe in the Trinity. I do believe in the Trinity. I believe in God, I believe
in Jesus as a prophet. And I believe in the Holy Spirit. Do I think they're all one?
Maybe not. This is a complex position. Is that what? Yeah, and what I like to do, like I had a conversation the other day with an evangelical leader here in America. And he's great. His name is Bob Roberts, good friend of mine, and he sees the Trinity as a line. Right? So God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are all equal. Whereas I see the Trinity as a triangle. So God is at the top of the triangle and then
Jesus in the spirit are below it. So it all it all stems from God anyways,
these positions obviously get me in trouble not only within the Christian communities, but some Muslims will be like, well, then, you know, if, if you think this way,
then you're you're automatically a Muslim. And, you know, that's just a dead end road for me. Like, that's
conversion has never been what's been driving me this whole time. You know, it's, it's not it's not that oh, you know what you just keep seeking the truth? Yeah, it's pretty much you know asking God for the truth that's all we all need to do, and know that God is one and the prophets are real and they came to teach humanity. And that's a part.
Amen to that I mean 100% And this is also why I identify Muhammad as a prophet like outside of his theological claims.
Look at his life and legacy. And when when I look at his life and legacy, you know, what he did, for people's lives and what he did to lift up hearts and minds, I see a very similar path to
as Jesus, you know, like kind of bringing in coming with a revolutionary idea
that the, the periphery of society that has been marginalized and downtrodden and forgotten, and not only forgotten, but like dismissed, you know, like, deemed useless. Jesus and Muhammad in many ways are trying to, again engage in that tikun olam to heal a fractured world to bring people back into thinking about humanity and into thinking of God as the Creator of all of us and creating all of us equally. These are the type of characteristics I think about when we talk about what it means to be a prophet.
You know, one of the one of the moments in all of these schisms going on in the world that really moved me was in
tatters Square in Egypt, when the the Muslims are being under attack, and then the Christians were under attack. And they prayed the Lord's prayer together. Allahu Akbar, they pray the Lord's prayer together. Now, I remember reading the Quran for the first time. And I got a you know, we opened with Al Fatiha. And I thought, oh, yeah, I recognize this voice. I recognize the edicts in it. There's only one God, worship Him, ask Him alone, don't go off track.
Right? Absolutely. And it's funny that you bring up the Lord's Prayer, because there have been countless times where I'm either saying it, or I'm reading it and looking at it. And I almost want I wish someone who happened to be Muslim was right here. And I could be like, hey, read this. And tell me, do you believe in it? And I think a lot of a lot of Muslims would, you know, even, you know, it's one of these things like if you gave them a passage to read, and you didn't tell them it was from the Bible? Would they still believe it? And I think they might, you know, because it is it is strictly monotheistic. Like, there's no kind of language in there about, it's not like the Hail
Mary, where you start talking about Mary being the mother of God, you know, I think that would be more of a stretch. But the Lord's Prayer is a beautiful prayer. And I think a lot of let's let's, let's be clear about sorry, carry on. Sorry, forgive me. No, no, go ahead, please.
I just wanted to say that.
The Lord's Prayer, what with with with previous scriptures, we acknowledge as Muslims, that sections have been changed, and we don't know which ones are the true ones. So so we take it all with a saying a pinch of a pinch of salt, and with respect. So I'd be really interested if you did recite the Lord's Prayer now, with the proviso that it begins in the Christian texts that have been changed through the ages acknowledged by historians are farther. Now again, a Latinized version of the Greek of Aramaic, our Lord. So if we begin our Lord who aren't in heaven, I'd like to hear recite it because, you know, we appreciate Jesus as Muslims
to see these, these words, I think, so the Lord's Prayer starts like this. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses.
is as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. You know, that is a pretty, it's pretty neutral outside of this point that you mentioned, Lauren, like when when you say, Father, I think most Christians are thinking that this is this is God, you know, this is this is that that one that oneness and, you know, I would be completely okay with just Yeah, replacing that with, with God, it doesn't have to be father, you know, like, it's, it's almost like a semantic issue here. And I feel like we need to kind of look at the bigger picture. But, you know, we're talking about, you know, forgiving, forgiving others
God can forgive you to take care of others.
You know, some some, you know, reject evil. I mean, these are these are things that I think you don't even need to be a mono theist, necessarily, to understand the value of these things.
When we talk about values,
it's great to to share the historicity of the truths about Prophet Muhammad's life peace be upon him. And to know that they him as a as a citizen builder and a civilization builder. But what about the changes, that his being his example making us as human beings, this is really how we as as the Muslim world, you know, we wake up and we think,
How can I be a better person today? What is the interaction here? What should I avoid? I wonder about the the if there's been an impact of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him of his behaviors, on your daily life, on your heart or on your behaviors? And if so, what are they?
Wow, great question. And, you know, usually I will start like this, like, there are some things when we think about Muhammad, you know, daily interactions at a very micro level, you know, like, how did he like, fundamentally treat people. And when I think about how Jesus also kind of lived his life, I see them as being similar in the following regards, you know, like, being like, there's a story with Muhammad, like when he used to shake hands, like he wouldn't, he wouldn't give, he wouldn't give up his hand first, you know, and he would just kind of keep going, because he didn't want to be the person to take away he wanted to continue that kind of that that warmness that kindness. And I just
see him just making people feel worthy. Making people feel comfortable making people feel like they belong. And for me like that, that is really what Jesus's mission was about, too. And there's other examples, let's focus on Mohammed here, that kind of inspire me. And I'll start with another story. And this one, I've posted this one before, and a lot of people
questioned the authenticity of it, but the story of the Jewish funeral procession
in which, you know, Muhammad, and a couple of his companions are on the side of the road in Medina. And yeah, a procession comes by Jewish funeral procession, and Muhammad stands up and one of the companions asked him, What are you doing? Why are you standing up this person is Jewish and Muhammad's response, you know, is it not a human soul? And I think that is a really important message and story. And again, it goes back to humanity, and it goes back to God, you know, we,
God created all of us.
With this, this soul, like we all have a soul, like we all have the same organs. You know, like, fundamentally, we are human beings first. And I think Muhammad had a really strong understanding of that. So there are things at that level, but I think the stuff that really moves me
and it makes Muhammad's work really timely and relevant are his positions on anti racism and civic nation building. And, you know, as someone that has grown up in America,
I'm 35. Now, and lately, the racial inequalities and the racism has gotten worse. And it bothers me as an American, and it bothers me as a Christian and as a human being. And when I think about Jesus's life and legacy, you know, I think there is a fundamental anti racist spirit about it. But the beauty with Muhammad's life is it's a lot more well documented than Jesus is and we have specific examples in which Muhammad is in good
ageing in not merely non racism, but anti racism, and there's a difference. And this is an important difference when we talk about non racism. You know, hopefully everyone tuning in here is a non racist, you do not believe in racial superiority. That's important. But anti racism is different. It's when you act on this knowledge that you have. So you believe that all people are fundamentally equal, because they're God's creation, but then you act on it, right? So like you try to work in society in your daily life, to make the world more equal. And Muhammad did this. He did this with the relationship that he had with Bilbao, urban Rubba. He He not only freed Bilbao, in robber who
was enslaved, but he also let him be socially mobile, he let him rise in the ranks of the early Ummah, based on his character and conduct and nothing else.
So that's important. And that inspires me, you know, I think Muhammad's work is more relevant than ever, his not his work his his message. And then when we when we come to the Civic nation, right, so when I think about America, and that the type of nation that I want to live in, and the type of nation that I can be proud of. It's a civic nation. And a civic nation is one in which one's sense of belonging is not predicated on race, religion, ethnicity, cultural backdrop or anything. What makes you belong to the nation is adherence to a political philosophy, which is safeguarded and outlined in a written document that provides you the rights. So in the US, we have the Declaration
we hold these truths to be self evident. All human beings are created equal, it says, Man, but I edit it. All human beings are created equal, that they're endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. And these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That's the type of nation I want to imagine and live in. America has not always lived by it. But there have been times where it has, when I look at the nation that Muhammad envisioned, but also implemented in Medina, we have something quite similar. And if you look at the Constitution of Medina, it's pretty easy, I think, to find passages that justify the claim, or claims that Muhammad believed in freedom of
speech, Muhammad believed in freedom of worship, Muhammad believed in the freedom of assembly, he also believed in the right to have private property.
And, you know, if we understand the history, we know that the Constitution of Medina
went through some difficulty, and it kind of ended up breaking up, but it didn't break up necessarily for religious differences. It happened because of political differences. So when I see Muhammad's life and legacy,
I also think about the type of societies that I live in. And I actually see that his values and his teachings can be implemented. And I don't care, like he could be any other religion for that matter, but he just happens to be Muslim. And I happen to admire him. And I happen to share his messages because we need, you know, it's a complete, objective
approach. And I suppose that's what a scholar should be. You know, it's here is his teaching. This is valuable. It doesn't matter if he's Muslim. Well, it does. But you I think, you know, what I'm saying,
I feel really moved right now. Because I see that we as Muslims, we've kind of lost confidence
in, in ourselves in sharing the stories that your we know, we know what what you're telling us, you're reflecting the beauty of writings that already exist. But it's almost like when we anticipate the hatred that's going to come and we and we step back, do you understand that? What's the next stage? Where are we going to reach Americans and British people and Europeans with the chance to make a you know, to better society, you know, what, with, with the human soul, with ethics, with guidance with an end to materialism, because that is radical?
Well, I'll say this, I think one of the reasons why I
Um, some of the writings that I've had, if you want to call it that, like why they resonate with with Muslims is because it's, you know, my work isn't really
I don't think it's too loaded in, in theology or dogma, like I'm, I was trained as a sociologist, and I don't think there are a lot of sociologists looking at not only Islam, but the life of Prophet Muhammad, you know, so I'm not focusing so much on like these these massive truth claims. I mean, I find them interesting, I think they're important, but my goal is to make people
see their common humanity and others and to build bridges. And I think it's a great, you know, stories.
specific moments in time are really persuasive to people. So.
So Lauren, your question, you know, how was it? How do like, how can Muslims make the change?
How do you see you how do you see Muslims right now, as as giving the message of Prophet Muhammad and failing to give the message whilst understanding, of course, that perhaps we're timid in the public zone right now. You know, like I say, I went on your Twitter feed, which was two hours ago, and lovely, you know,
saying of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and saying, how you respect him, and you know, the usual stuff underneath, I'm really quite hateful. So we so many of us tend to back off from those spheres, what are we missing? What What would you like to see us? Because, you know, the Prophet Muhammad is a mercy to mankind, and people are missing out?
That's a really good question. I mean, I will say this, I do think, Muslims, you know, in general, have done a really good job of
living Muhammad's life and legacy.
But I also know a lot of Muslims and I have a lot of Muslim friends. And I see how they're inspired by Muhammad in their life, and then their goodness. But a lot of other people don't know that these Muslim people actually exist in like, I know that they exist, but other people don't. And I think when we talk about ways forward,
I do think, and I say this with all, you know, positive energy, I think Muslims in the US specifically need to do a better job of getting into the media. And when I say Media, I'm not just talking about like CNN and Fox, I'm talking about like, like journalism, movies, documentaries, because
I don't think a lot of the Islamophobia will be directly challenged until Muslims are on the inside. And they can change the institutions for themselves. Rather than asking other people to change the narrative. Often, that doesn't happen. And I think this is a challenge, because again, I'm kind of speaking in the the US context, but a lot of Muslims in this country happened to be second or third generation, I don't know the specific number, but second, or third generation, and you also have a lot of second generation young Muslims whose parents migrated over. And they typically, not typically, but a lot of them took up jobs in the higher professions. So doctors, engineers, lawyers,
and this is great, and we need these type of people. But I don't necessarily feel like that first migrant generation was encouraging folks to go into, like the liberal arts type sphere, you know, where we talk about journalism and media. So I think that's, that's going to be a challenge in the future. And I do know, there are organizations in this country, like the Muslim Public Affairs Council and care, they're doing a lot more to tap into these kinds of spaces where narratives are created. And, you know, I hope to said, I have to jump in there because, you know, as a Christian, you'll you'll know this that, that accessing mainstream training for people who are really following
a face is problematic, because you're going to be put into situations where, okay, Mohamed, pretend you're in a bar, you're getting drunk with your girlfriend or boyfriend, and we're going to act it out and you go, I was a dilemma. shaitana regime, or the Christian will go yet this really isn't fun, you know, practical for us, as an example, how to get into the media. So, again, I love what you said about, you know, making our own spaces rather than trying to get people to change their spaces. Yeah, and it's about us
In your your agency, you know, and then like, this is why I encourage the students in my classes and all young people like to recognize that no matter the perceived barriers you see in your life, you are powerful, and like do not fall into this trap of like internalized Islamophobia is like when you, when you start seeing the discrimination, you start seeing yourselves as only a marginalized person, and then you kind of fall into these narratives, like now, the best way to overcome these barriers and challenges is to
to be upwardly mobile, and to get into positions where you actually have power and influence. And I don't mean that in a sinister way, like power, like political power, just you being in control now. Right, so you're not expecting others to, you know, follow your commands. So it's challenging, though, because a lot of students will push back and say, Well, you know, we need to deal with the structural institutional barriers and inequalities first, and I get that, but I'm also concerned that there's so much energy and time put forward to on these really kind of negative topics, you know, like, it's, it can be a really dark, a dark world, you know, and I was learned that, like,
you'll find this interesting, like, some people have criticized me over the years, especially the last year for not necessarily speaking up on things like the Uighur the Rohingya, Syrian refugees. And the reason why I stopped publicly making statement I still do here and there. But a lot of my social media was dedicated to these stories. And I was getting criticism for reproducing the the oppressive narratives. So I was only sharing stories on how Muslims are being oppressed. Right. And I actually was like, that's a good point. And like, maybe my role is to be someone that can empower people a little bit more, and not kind of focus on what's going wrong, but rather what's going
right. And it's a really hard thing to sell to the youth. You know, like I tell them, like, just focus on like, what do you want to do with your professional career? Like, where do you want to go? How can you get there? And that's what you need to focus on. Like, don't let the noise bring you too far down, because it'll, it'll just corrupt you. Thank you so much. It's been wonderful speaking to you today. I'm sure we've got loads of questions on Facebook, but I'm not on there right now playing uh,
I might just just see if I can go on because I thought someone was going to send me the questions. But if not, because it is an hour already. Then I want to make sure while I'm getting Facebook up, Oh, Dr. Craig, here we go. We've got the we got some some questions coming up. We'll keep you 10 more minutes. Is that okay? Because it's a long session. Okay. Okay. So who do you believe this is a question from Facebook? Who do you believe or perceive the personally that Jesus Peace be upon spoke about some two political ones that we can't really tackle? Oh, I think that's because we've got to we've got some political questions. But what are you the person I? So I actually the last chapter of
humanity. Yeah. The last chapter of the book, the humanity, Muhammad, I actually address this specific topic. And I agree with the idea that Muhammad could be seen as the spirit of truth. But I don't necessarily think that I need to be like this verse either said it or it didn't, you know, because I don't know specifically, what the intention was behind this. But do I think in essence, Muhammad, could be that person mentioned in the Bible? Yes. Could be Yes, Spirit of Truth, for all the reasons that I've talked about today, largely, this
love and care for humanity, for the downtrodden, for the marginalized, for his vision of an E egalitarian society in which people had political rights. I mean, yeah, those things are truthful. So he could be the spirit of truth. But I hope that people don't think I'm just kind of taking the easy way out. I just, I don't think it's necessary for me to say like, I don't know if this I don't know. It's just an interpretation. You know, like, I don't know if he was literally mentioned or not, but the essence of it is there I think,
you know, have you ever read I'm sure you probably have Martin Ling's book, Muhammad about his life. That's a lovely book, because it's really kind of like, like, I've got mine right there as it's written.
I konavle so you can follow it like, through story, but from the historic sources, I got to win the Prophet peace be upon I was aged 12. And I felt such an uprising of love that I thought I was gonna burst into tears on a train. I wonder if there was a moment when the Prophet Muhammad story and knowing him has actually made your heart feel and you felt like crying or you've cried, maybe crying as it is, I don't know if there's a machismo thing here, but you know, full of love. Yeah, I mean, there's, there's no doubt like, I don't think I could necessarily put my finger on a given moment. But I and I think that's because there have been many moments in which, yeah, you almost feel like
there's, there's like a presence that has kind of been jolted into you, it's almost like, like being electric juniors, like, oh, wow, you know, you're the hair, the hair on your arm stands up. And, yeah, you feel almost like transcendent, you know, and I think it typically happens in the presence of others, actually, you know, like, when, when different groups of people are coming together, like, let's say, at a gathering, you know, and like, someone makes a statement, or someone says something about Muhammad, or someone says something about Muhammad and Jesus, and then you say, wow, you know, like, there's something magical about that. And, you know, it's special. It's, it's
indescribable, and it's crazy that it's unseen. You know, like, we can't, we can't see what this feeling is. But we know that it's beautiful. And we know that it's love.
Amazing, I think that's a perfect place to wrap up. I want people to be able to find you. And of course, to find your book. So just tell us what you're going to do next. And where everybody here today and watching this in the future time can find you in Sharla. Sure, so I am active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. So you can you can find me there. I do have a website. It's pinned to my social media. And I'm, I'm more than happy to to interact with you all via DMS. I do that quite frequently. So I mentioned this earlier, May 2021. The next book is coming out. This one is People of the Book Prophet Muhammad's encounters with Christians. And Lauren, I think you'll like it.
Because if you like Ling's book, this one is written in the same way. So it's a biography. And it's very much a story. But instead of covering everything I cover, I do cover everything because I have to tell the biography, but I look specifically at the stories relating to Christians from the beginning of his life to the end, and I also shed light on who these Christians were. Right, and how they could have potentially, yeah, so and then I'm the next book after that. At the moment, it's titled the synthesis of civilizations. So I am working to combat the clash of civilizations. I'm pushing us to move beyond the Dialogue of Civilizations into the realm of the synthesis of
civilizations, which is actually when dialogue becomes so fruitful, that Christians and Muslims come together, and they actually create together, and they become partners together to create a better society. So that book focuses on
the Muslims living in so called Western countries and Christians living in so called Muslim majority countries, and it looks at the good, the bad, and the ugly. But ultimately, I find moments in history, where I say, hey, in every one of these countries, there is good. That has happened between Christians and Muslims. And this is the inspiration that we can find to improve things today. So lots of books on the horizon.
Yeah, lots of lots of books on the horizon. Lots of nappies, to change babies to get a baby to, and a lot a lot of blessing in your life in sha Allah. May Allah to Allah bless you. May the All Merciful be in his in your life always and guide you to the highest of heaven. May your child be the coolness of your eyes, or may your wife also bring you great joy. And thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us today. Peace and blessings be upon you. Thank you so much, Lauren. It was lovely. Sending my love to you to your loved ones. And for all that tuned in today, sending my love to you as well. Thank you all so much. It was great. Let's see you again. God bless you. Take care
God bless you as well.