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Interfaith class – Landmark University

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Mirza Yawar Baig

Channel: Mirza Yawar Baig

Episode Notes

Episode Transcript

© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.


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Joining us

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the students that I spent some time this morning in our in person session just briefly talking about some of the history of Islam in North America and in the region, and, and so forth. As I told you, I think in our exchanges and our phone conversation before, our aim with this has been much more to get a sense of the the sort of lived experience of the different communities we're meeting with, I think you are our seventh or eighth guest speaker in the class so far. So we've had a chance to talk to a variety of folks.

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As well as I'll start with this as obviously, you know, right, the history of New England and religion and New England has been very Christian, very Catholic, liberal Protestants and so forth. We spend some time on the on the society's webpage today looking and you've got that really nice timeline of, of Islam in the region. And relatively speaking, like, you know, Islam in any kind of significant presence has been a relative newcomer to the region. And so I wonder if you could start with talking to us about how do you think that impacts the sense of Muslim identity in, you know, the Springfield area, West Springfield, the Pioneer Valley, however, you want to think about that?

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How do you think that impacts the sense of what it means or what it feels like to be Muslim? Here?

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You know, I think that's a very nice way to put it feels like to be Muslim here. Because I think religious identity, whether we like it or not, is quite strongly rooted in and connected with a regional cultural identity as well. Now, what happens with Muslims here, and of course, I am not being a spokesperson for all Muslims. And,

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you know, so I'm just talking about my my experience of this. And what I see from the people I interact with and so on,

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is that for a lot of Muslims, the Muslim identity is still connected to within courts, what they call back home.

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And back home is usually a

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country that came from so because a lot of them are are migrants. And of course, many of them are not migrants from the Middle East, the migrants are all over the place.

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So you have people who are from migrated from Europe, we have a lot of Bosnians, and people from that area. We have, of course, people from Africa, we have people from some you know, Sudan, Somalia, and so on. We have people from of course, the Middle East, and then we have people from,

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from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka. So it's, they are Muslim, but very, very different in terms of their own cultural background, language, they speak food, they ate clothes, there were local customs, lots of and law a lot, or almost all of it obviously gets important. So the fact that they are living now in New England, does not disconnect them from their roots. And I don't think it's a, I don't think anybody wants that to happen, either. It's a good thing, you should be connected to your roots. So that is one aspect of it. So if you say, Well, you know, how is the experience of being a being in New England different?

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For a lot of them apart from the weather.

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It's not.

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There's no snow where they come from. And there's a lot of snow here. But apart from that, it's not very different.

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They go back into their same atmospheres at home, and so on and so forth. They're speaking their languages, which is why a lot of them even though they were living in America, and living in this area, they don't speak English fluently at all English is not their first language. The first language is something else. Now, then we have next generation, which is children born here.

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And who are who have been to, you know, they went through the medical school system, they have what, American friends and so on and so forth. Now, that is, we are we have in that that group, actually there is, in some cases, quite a lot of confusion, confusion in terms of identity. No, who am I? You know, I mean, my American American or my,

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my Pakistani American, what does that mean? What exactly does Pakistani American mean? What exactly does Adam American mean or whatever you want to call it?

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So there is that there is quite a lot of that confusion, in terms of culture and symbols, practices, especially what works and what doesn't work and all of that sort of stuff. Then we have, of course, in this area, number of African American Muslims, who are many of them are not converts. They are people who have been Muslim for generations

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and they have a

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They are they are definitely by, you know, but but their identity is again, very much in terms of black African American

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Islam. You know, I mean, many of them came to within Cortes mainstream Islam from the

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you know, the front, the black Muslims move on in groups like Yeah, yeah. So many of them came from there others didn't come from there but but there is the whole thing there is more in terms of African American rather than New England and so on. And so there's a very interesting mix of a lot of people. And I think one of the advantages I have is because I speak several languages, I am able to connect with the, with many of them at different levels. Because you know, at the end of the day, no matter how important religion is,

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the connector for the culture is the language.

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And so therefore, if you can speak the language of the people, then you you connect to them much more easily. And so I'm, I'm happy that I'm able to do that. So it's a very mixed mixed experience. There is, of course, I think, I can say, quite, quite

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frankly, and without exaggeration, that they're all very happy to be in America happy to be living in this part of the world, especially New England is a very beautiful place. I mean, I mean, I don't have tell you that we all live here. So apart from dogma, the weather, you have four distinct seasons, which in most of the places that these people come from, and we come from, we don't have four distinct seasons. The other thing is that, like they say, you know, you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes. I mean, there's.

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So there's that as well. And then there is, I think, by large in this part of the of the of the country of America, and I'm sure you would ask me that question.

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Thanks for the fact that the the level of education,

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the level of acceptance of diversity, and the number of immigration, immigrant populations on, there is a lot more tolerance, there's a lot more,

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you know, people are more

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open to new cultures, and new traditions, and so forth. And I think all of that is something which is much appreciated. We, for example, we do not have some of the extreme cases of Islamophobia, or racial hatred,

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or racial violence in this part of the bar of the country, like we hear from other parts of the country. So that's something everyone is obviously very relieved about. There have been instances, for example, in our in the slavery chapter in our mosque, many years ago, when we had built a new extension. And quite literally the day, the night before the new extension was relocated, and somebody got in and smashed all the windows. Oh, yeah. So I mean, obviously, it was, you know, the thing about these things is not a matter of, what does it cost to replace the window? It's the whole shock of that there is somebody out there who hates you enough to do that. Smash all the windows.

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And I mean, you know, thank God, there was nobody in the mosque at the time. Otherwise, it could have been much, much worse. There was another case, we have two little signs, and there are two on the road, there are two terms. And to clear it to to, you know, to direct people, we have two little sign saying it's loving society. So somebody was uprooted one of the sides, you know, now that guy got caught on camera. So but what we did, I think it was a very good thing. And I wasn't here at the time, but I think it's a very sensible thing that people did. They decided not to press charges, and so on. So they told the police to hold off, they invited the guy, he came, they invited him to

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lunch, they sat with him, they they talked to him. And of course, you know, everybody went off home quite happily and the you know, the people design back and it hasn't been moved from them. So I think that that is a very proactive and a much better way of dealing with it rather than, you know, saying, you know, whatever, let the law take its course kind of thing. I think it's some of these things where one has to have more than normal patience and forbearance.

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Yeah,

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I'm just taking notes here.

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Thank you for that, like so. Yeah, you you hit on a number of themes that we've sort of talked about in class and,

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and other things like that. One of the things that we've been talking about and of course, this is part of the reason why we're on a screen, a screen right now is because of COVID and like all the stuff with that.

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So there there are a few questions.

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I've been asking all of our different guest speakers, and one of them is, what decisions they made with regard to COVID, in terms of whether to meet in person or not to meet in person, how they came about to make those decisions, kind of where they're at now. And then another piece of that, that I'm interested in is, is what? Some communities we're going to keep from that, right. We've had people that have talked about, you know, they've actually had people have had better access to their community because of not having to travel and you know, things like that. So, could you walk us through some of that of what the decisions were that the society made and how you made those

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decisions? Yeah, you know, this started, of course, way back. Now sound like way back, but like two years ago?

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Barely 2019. December, I think it was something like that. Yeah, late, late December into January, sort of hearing things.

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That's when we went. The first thing that happened was the lockdown, which we just shut the wosk. I mean, you know, there wasn't anybody there.

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And then, of course, there was a lot of discussion, we had town halls on zoom. Of course, we had board meetings, and we had town halls on zoom, and we consulted with everybody. And for a period, of course, a mosque was shut. So there was no,

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there was no daily prayer, and so on. No congregational prayer in the mosque.

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However, what we did was, we did two things. One was as far as the prayer that the Friday prayer is concerned, which is the weekly congregational congregational prayer. We, it you know, one of the things about Islam is that Islamic law is not a monolithic,

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static thing, which never changes. Islamic law is extremely

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dynamic. And it's very responsive to challenges. So for example, one of the very fundamental principles in Islamic law is that if you are in a place and you are resident and you are healthy, then there is no excuse for missing the Friday prayer.

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If you deliberately missed the Friday prayer, it's like a medicine. Now, our scholars, they came up with this thing, and they said, that missing the Friday prayer in the physical sense, thanks to the pandemic, and all of that, so is okay, as long as you do the Friday prayer at home. So now during a Friday prayer at home, if you just go back and say, was there such a ruling on this thing?

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Definitely not a common ruling. I mean, in the sense of they took the extracted the ruling from some other kinds of things, of what the prophet peace be upon him did in terms of emergencies and so on. But was that a ruling to say Friday Prayer can be done at home? No, it wasn't. So it was a new thing. And I think it shows the dynamism of Islamic law. Then they said, Well, what about the sermon? So they said, Well, your sermon can be done, virtually. And so you can listen to the sermon on your, on your phone, or whatever. And then you can do the prayer at home. And that's what we did. And so people like myself, we recorded our Friday sermons.

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Every I mean, I've been doing that now for two years, for two years, regarding the Friday sermons, so they go out every every Friday, at one o'clock or something. And then people who said they were praying at all, then when the rules relaxed, and people were allowed, we initially it was just 10 people in the mosque, no matter how big the mosque was, and then it was a little more and so on. And then we had the six feet, the social distancing, and so forth. So we did a number of things. Number one was we ripped out all the carpets in the mosque, because we said the carpets are more likely to be contaminated. So the mask, all the garbage got ripped up. So now it just has a concrete floor.

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Then we put six foot markers on the floor. And then what we did was that for Friday's, we set up a system where a person has to register online, and then they are sent a invite for them to attend Friday prayers, and there are their security guards. You can't just walk in, they check your name on the list to see whether you were registered or not. If you didn't register, you're not let in. I was telling somebody the other day I said it's like it's more difficult. I mean, it's like getting into Fort Knox or something. You know, it's our mosque is like that. So there's that then then the security guard, they were the eyes. They had those temperature thermometers. We had hand sanitizers,

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and then we had this n 95 mask rule which was absolutely inviolable. You cannot enter the even the premises we say you cannot enter the property without a mask. So if you drive in with your car when you're getting out of the car he was having a mask on, even though you are in the open space. So

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Those things we implemented. And those we continue to implement, even though rules are now relaxed to a great extent, but we have said no, as far as we are concerned, we are going to continue to implement the COVID rules. Now, again, here was another very major Islamic, legally speaking very major, you know, with an innovation that was done, which was the permission for people to stand six feet apart, in Salah in the follow congregational prayer. But as you know, in Islam, you stand shoulder to shoulder. And scanning shoulder to shoulder is actually a mark of faith. And it's a mark of the quality of people and you can be a billionaire. And you can be somebody who's a pop or a

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homeless person. But in the mosque, there is no differentiation. If you're Head of State, there's no differentiation, you stand shoulder to shoulder with other guy, you don't say, Well, you know, he's a poor guy, or he's black, or he's white or whatever, it doesn't matter if he's in the mosque is a Muslim is praying that you stand shoulder to shoulder, now that law had to change. So is it now because of the pandemic, you stand six feet apart, and your Salah is still valid. This is a very important point, because initially, as far as Islamic law was concerned, if you had gaps in your, in your SFX, which is called the line, your Salah was invalid, right? your your your prayer was

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invalid. But we said no, the prayer is valid because of these reasons. Because the the and all of this comes from the fundamental principle in Islamic law, which is preservation of life. And everything is it becomes subservient to what is required for preservation of life. So the whole thing comes from this that, by my action, I must not harm either myself or anybody else. And in order to do that, everything else is malleable, everything else can be

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can be adjusted. So I think these are the two major things we did. Third thing we did was the other issue, which was how do we keep connected with our community, because we have a large community, we are very dynamic community. And one of the things in this mosque, which we really enjoyed was the personal meeting, sharing, especially in Ramadan, the stars, eating way together with a big thing, every Friday, we would have people, we would have tables set up in the social Hall and in the basement. And people would, and we would give Friday meals out and after the Friday, Friday prayer, people would sit and eat together. Now all of that came to heart. So we really had people, you know,

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we could meet anybody. So we started to think we started town halls, every, every week where, you know, people just come in and we just chat, if there's anything important to talk about, we did that otherwise it was it was more a sort of fellowship and, you know, let off some steam kind of stuff, which was good. And what we did was we, I, for example, did a lot of lecture, like I used to do, and I still do

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five lectures a week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for another Friday, so five lectures a week, on different topics. Now. And of course, we do that either on zoom, or we do it on YouTube Live or something like that. The

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The purpose of the public beyond all that, apart from education was to keep in touch with the community so that people can people don't feel completely,

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you know, isolated, that we are still there, somebody cares for me kind of stuff. So, this was I think it worked out very well. As a matter of fact, I think what he was saying just now is that

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in a way, this remote connecting even though it is you know, we all of us, we want the physical personal connecting to come come back as quickly as possible. But one of the things that remote connecting has done is it has made it more convenient for people to meet.

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And one is it is because it is recorded, people can can, you know, listen to that thing later at their own convenience and so on. Second thing is that people can listen to it

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while driving and so on even though it's on video, but they can listen to the audio. And then people just coming in is much simpler than driving, especially in winter. Those are the driving to the mass people used to come.

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For example, typical glass before this, I would have maybe, I mean today I had 20 people in the class I sort of celebrate, but

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but now every class is an average of 8090 people or sometimes 100 people.

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Now, there's no way that we would have got 100 people into the mosque, especially four times, four times a week. I mean, I keep telling them I said Yeah, we are. We are we are kind of dying of an overdose of religion. I mean

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He wants to listen to religion for four days a week, for an hour. And this is, you know, anyway.

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But I think with the remote thing, this is becoming easier because people then you know, you come in, you go out and it's much easier to do that than, than otherwise. So yes, there have been big changes. You know, one of the interesting thing was the eat bread, the the two festival just now we had one a few days ago, in the biggie in the eastern states exposition, the, the, the land, the ground there, in West Springfield, we had the prayer, I was, I was sitting I was standing on top of in the back of a pickup truck and delivering the server.

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I said it I said in that video, it's quite, it's quite funny, because I was standing the back of the truck. And we had about 2000 people, wouldn't it? And they all drove in and they it was it was like a,

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like a drive in movie, you know?

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exactly what I was thinking. Yeah.

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So you park your car and then you

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in this case, you don't pull out your popcorn but but you pull out your prayer mat and you pray next to your car, either sitting in the car or outside the car, just you and your family and the the other group is six feet or more away from us, right that I mean, all new things are new to us.

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They still miss very much especially at the time of the festival, we miss the physical meeting or in our in our religions. In Islam, as you know, it's very sort of clasping your hands, shaking hands, hugging each other, all of this is is very much part of

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the greeting of the religion. We don't do that we have not developed a new way of greeting which is which has put your right hand on your on your chest and you do that sort of newer, which

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was seems to be doing the job.

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Good.

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Yeah, it's it's interesting, I don't know it's it's very much in line with what you hear from other groups and just all these different kind of exploratory ways of having to figure things out and figuring out what what the stipulations of the tradition allow and like what needs to be rethought and why and so forth.

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Another question that I'm asking of all the different groups, is if you could say something about the role or the place of queer folk in your community, what role to do lgbtqi plus people play in the life of the society, you know, the as far as the society is concerned, as far as the mosque is concerned, it's a place of,

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of spiritual upliftment. Just pray a place where people go for their spiritual fix.

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And really, I mean, we we have no, we have no signs they're saying LGBT welcome or LGBT not welcome, everybody, welcome. So irrespective of, of any of that, you're most welcome you come you pray you go home.

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There's no No, no remark on that. Obviously, it is a place for for spiritual work. It's a space for you know, so for example, if we will not allow someone to come and give a political speech. Right, right. There's not a place for politics. So if I say if I go to as your I'm a Republican, I'm a Democrat, very nice. Now start praying, you know, that's how it is. So similarly, for anything else. We say most of our companies can pray

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any other non prayer or non spiritual agenda is for outside the mosque? And of course, most of them come in, we don't stop anybody but in the mosque, it's purely a spiritual space. And of course, everybody's welcome.

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Thank you. And then the last of the the kind of the three questions I've been asking everybody is, of course, you know, at the same time, that we the all these different groups, and every like everybody in colleges everywhere was sort of spore forced to disperse and go virtual and so forth. You had these really invisible series of social justice issues, right, Ahmed ARB robbery, Briana Taylor, George Floyd the whole late spring into the summer everything since then.

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And I'm interested in how that has impacted your community how you've responded to that. And I guess the challenges of doing so while as you say, You're not together in the way that you had been before. And so how has that played out for you? Oh, well, one thing. After that George Floyd thing happened. I did I delivered one sermon on Friday, which was directly focused at racial justice.

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So we did that we did a lot of talking on that basis. You know, what happens at what helps us is that we have we are a very diverse community. So we are for us.

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Helps and also I think, in a way, for example, if you walk into the mosque or I mean

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Virtually speaking, if you ask the average person

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in this part of the world, New England, did you ever experience racism direct face to face? The answer you will probably get from the majority of people is no. If you ask me, for example, did you? Did you ever experience racism face to face? My answer is no.

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You know, I mean, so maybe I know all the nice people only bought something.

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The point is that, but does racism exist? Of course it does. I mean, they know no one can deny that it exists. And it exists in pretty ugly ways in different parts of the world. And I'm sure there are also other people. For example, my nephew was telling me, it's interesting. by them, he was telling me, he has a, he went to private school and wilbraham in, which is a very sort of, you know, expensive school. So he has the children that school is school brands are both white and black.

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And economically speaking, they're all all wealthy. But he says that, and he's talking, I'm talking about now several years ago, not not now, but when he was in school. So this is like, like, you know, a couple of maybe a decade or more ago. Now, he was saying that if he was in the mall, and he's talking about Enfield mall, he said, If I'm in the mall, with my white friends, the security guards and so on, they don't bat an eyelid. We can walk around anywhere. Absolutely no problem. But he said if I'm in the mall with my black friends, with my African friends, and some of them African Americans, some of them are not even American. They're African African. Right? He said, invariably,

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the security guard will walk up and he will he'll be polite, but he will say Hi guys, how you doing? You know, I everything well, and so on is of course everything is well. And then he says we can see that guy keeping an eye on us.

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Now he says all every single time I walk into the mall with my white coat with the with the white guys a different reaction, why black is different. So I mean, this is right here. And so the point is that there Yes, there is racism. Yes, people do experience it. But maybe maybe it would be correct to say it's not as much in the face as it is elsewhere. Yes. And as sort of, as you say the the term now would be things like microaggressions or profiling, right? This

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are less direct, but much more sort of indirect. Right? Yeah. Yeah. But you know, you know, it is there, believe me, I mean, that that's not something that can be people biting they hiding it? They can't I mean, when you're experiencing it, you know exactly what's happening.

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Yeah.

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kind of tied in with that, but moving off of this specific issue of like, racial or ethnic identity, but I'm wondering if you encounter or think there are Islam in front for my money is one of the least understood traditions by lots and lots of Americans. Right. So are there common misperceptions that you encounter? Or that that you think people have? Or that, you know, that you hear from other members of the society that you're, I guess, what are some of those common misperceptions? And and

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how do you sort of respond to those or try to try to counter those? Okay. Let me go back to your first question about the anti racist movement for and I'll come back to this one. Sure. Sure. We, what we also did was, we did and we continue to participate in all the acts activities happening to deal with racism. So we have been to demo our demonstrations, three demonstrations, we have been, you know, on the net for various things, we have contributed both materially meaningful in terms of money, as well as in terms of effort. So all of that has also happened simultaneously. So it's not just me, giving one lecture

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is a lot larger. It's a lot more than that. Now, to come back to the other question that you asked about misconceptions. You know, one is Islam is very, not very well understood. That's one very important thing. And you are absolutely right. The other thing is that Islam is also the target of a lot of hatred.

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So it is this Islamophobia is big business for a lot of people, they making money out of it. So with the result that on the one hand, you don't have good information, on the other hand, you get a lot of bad information. So the average person to expect them to do their own research and to be absolutely objective and so on and so forth, I think is highly unrealistic. I mean, that's not gonna happen. There will be the there will be the individual who will take the towel, do that, but most people won't both people who just go by what's in what's coming at them on television, or whatever it is. So Well, our way of dealing with it is twofold. One is through our interfaith work, I work

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for example, and me and many of us we work with several different

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groups in this area. Now, the interfaith group in in a way is also a preaching to the, to the choir because, you know, all of the other people are of this of that have the same frame of mind. They're all highly welcoming and high, you know, so we're really not talking to the William courts opposition, whatever that is, but at least to the extent possible, there is a sharing of even the the interfaith groups, believe me when there is a lot of misinformation. I mean, maybe they maybe they don't, they aren't in the flower Islamophobic area, but definitely, they do not know many things. So I think one of the ways we have dealt with this is to try to be as open as possible. Our

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mosque, for example, has been always open, anybody can come in, anybody can, you know, come and watch the prayer, they can come and ask any questions they want. So we have, we have never had a closed door policy, we've always been extremely open, we have annually, we have one star which is jam packed in which is the breaking of the fast in northern, which is totally jam packed with our neighbors and with, you know, interfaith groups and so on. Because obviously, we haven't had it for the last two years. But you know, that was the, that was the thing was to do. We also participate in exhibitions, and so on and so forth. And then we talk a lot in different forums, different fora

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about about Islam. So I think the whole thing is to continuously is to keep an open place where people can come and ask questions, and also to participate. Like, for example, I'm talking to you now and we this meeting, is where I'm staying Okay, here. Ah, here I am.

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You know, you want to get it straight from the horse's mouth. Yes, dos, you know, so as the questions, so it's like that. So we try to do as much of that as possible. I think it will take some time. But the other side of it is my experience is that

00:31:49--> 00:31:51

the average American person,

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I have found that person to be far more open, and far more willing to listen and far more willing to change their opinion than my experience with people in other parts of the world.

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I mean, I travel extensively around the world. And I've met people, and I've spoken to people in different parts of the world. But my experience of the average American person is that he or she is far more open, far more willing to listen to something we did never before. And they are far more willing to say something like, you know what, I never thought of it like that.

00:32:32--> 00:32:42

So okay, here's your here's, here's a perspective. So I think it will take time, but given time, you know, we we hope to do something good.

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Usually people say that Muslims are, are better behaved. And because alcohol is banned. So we have, you know, you are not that likely to find some guy who's drunk and all that stuff. So that way it's

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in society. Also, I hope I'm right that we try to create a nice example of how we should live as a good neighbors. There is, as you know, in Islam, a huge focus on the welfare of the neighbor. And a lot of us tried to in the form the mosque, we definitely do, but I'm saying even individuals, we've done a, for example, throughout this month of Ramadan, I think if I'm not mistaken, we, apart from contributing to the two, we have a pantry here, which is a Christian pantry, which we contributed, I think $5,000 to that. But apart from that we gave out I think, if I'm not mistaken, about three or 4000 meals to the homeless people. And this is an ongoing activity. I mean, it's not just one, you

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know, I tell people, I mean, even our people, they're not patrons, they don't eat once a year. So we got we gotta feed, we got to feed them on a regular basis. So I think this is that's the kind of stuff we keep doing trying to do our best to

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show the,

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you know, to show that we can live

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together in harmony. Good.

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I think one of the one of the those sort of last thoughts that I have a question is kind of relates to that. If people were to form a single impression of the Islamic Society, right? Well, what would you want that to be? What would you want? You know, if they came and did visit, or got to know you or heard, you know, all of this stuff? What would you want them to take away from that? You know, I the thing I would like them to take away from is, if I need somebody, if I need some help, these are the people I want to go to

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whatever that might be. And I'm not saying that any kind of help. We can all we can actually help you. I don't know. But I'm saying that I would like the average person on the street to say that if I need any help, these are the guys I want to go to.

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Because they will do their best to help me. Even if they can't help me they will try to find ways of helping me. I mean, they cannot be directly they will find ways of help.

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Me, indirectly, I think that's the message that I would really want to send to the world that if there is a Muslim or your neighbor, I want you to think of him or her as a person that you would go to if you need anything. If there is anxiety is there, this is a place you can come to If you need anything, and we will definitely do our best to help you to the best of our ability.

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Great, thank you. Um, excuse me. Let me let me ask the students if they have any sort of questions or comments here, I know we're coming to kind of the end of the time, I should also say that this is the third week of this kind of intensive class. So I think all the students are a little exhausted by this point.

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But I will ask, I'm looking for their little digital hands. If anybody has a question, or anything you'd like to ask a follow up to anything that shake your war has shared with us so far?

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not seeing any yet.

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Okay, so we're probably just about finished. Let me let me thank you again, for your person. In in connecting and for your time. I'll just tell the students again, as we've seen with the others, the links are on the Canvas site, if you want to go and look at more about the the Islamic Society, obviously shake your water, if you want to follow up with me for any reason.

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I'd be happy to do so this is the first time we've done this class, but it's a class I hope to run in the future. So I'm hoping that this will be something that can become a more regular thing. At landmark. Oh, I see. I see a hand from Daniel, go ahead.

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Shake you are Where are you from? Oh, me. I'm from a city called Hyderabad in India.

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See?

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Right. Thank you. I'll just remind the students if you ask a question, that's great. But remember to mute afterwards, sometimes we're getting the the speaker is picking up your microphones picking up the speaker. Max, I think your hand is up as well.

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Yeah, so what branch of Islam are is your mosque a part of

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are you talking about like, like Sunni, Shia, that sort of, Okay, this is the Sunni

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Sunni, okay, thank you, it's my understanding to shake your water and correct me if I'm wrong, that those distinctions are less pronounced in like, you know, in a context like where you are in Western Mass and they might be other parts of the world, right? Because it's, you know, as you say, your your this this

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that there aren't a lot of different Muslim communities for all of these, you know, different Muslims have different ethnic backgrounds and, and national and cultural backgrounds. So what would that be a safe assumption that there's some of those distinctions are not as pronounced as they might be in other parts of the world? Let me let me put it this way. Number one is yes, of course. It's a safe assumption. Number two, fundamental fundamentally islamically speaking as well in Islam,

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they are not pronounced I mean, the basic fundamental principles of Islam are the same whether you are Shia or Sunni or anything else. Because the basic fundamental principles of Islam is what worshipping of one god worship of Allah and nobody has no partner don't know No.

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Any GI bill we don't have a son of God none of that then we believe in the Prophet Mohammed Salah as the last and final messenger the the basic fundamentals are the same Shia Sunni Allah the differences are more peripheral and like you said in some parts of the world they seem to be more more pronounced than here. Here we are with our mosque is as I said, it's a it's a swimming court Sunni mosque but we have a number of here people who come in prayer Yeah, I mean you know they're there they come and pray and we all know

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that we do they're like us I mean, there's no difference right? Okay. ac I see your hand is up.

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So

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when

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so your community you know

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in some churches to call parishioners where what is like the like the

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What do you call people in your community?

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I mean, like the Christians will say parishioners or congregants or something like that. Is there a specific term for one who attends mosque you know, we don't have a specific term for one who attends the general term for the Muslim community is oma okay? oma it means basically means from the same mother in this case, the mother would be the religion so it is and that would apply to anybody who whether you attend the mosque or not is the part of the AMA. Incidentally the part of oma even people who are not Muslim you are all part of the human because the oma has two, two parts the oma as those who believe in Islam and the Ummah also

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Those who are who don't believe in Islam. So in Islam we have we call the Brotherhood of faith and the Brotherhood of humanity. And both of them are equally important. So everyone is people who come to the mosque, we don't have a specific name for them as such.

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So I was just typing, typing up some notes, and I wanted to make sure that I wasn't.

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I mean, you can't

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say petitioners in that sense.

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But if you asked me, Do you have somebody as a parishioner non personal? No, we don't. I mean, you know, okay, thank you for the Muslim is a Muslim.

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Daniel, I see your hand as you have a second question. Is your hands still up from before? No, I just forgot to take it down. That's fine. If I could tell you how many faculty meetings I've been in with, like faculty hands that never come down? Well, yeah. All right. Well, I think that takes us just about to the end of the time, I want to thank students for the the questions, shake your water. Again, thank you for your time, I just want to remind the students that your response, your reflection form on on the guest speaker is due tonight. So just Just don't forget that I will see all of you tomorrow. Shake your water as I say thank you again very much for your time. And again,

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for the the person's parents have of connecting. And feel free to follow up for any reason. And thank you very much. I'm honored and I'm very happy to be part of your class. And I look forward to more such experiences as you wish. And also I'd be very happy to continue to interact because you and I will but also your students. If anybody wants to email me directly, they have some questions today, tomorrow day of any time. I'm more than happy to answer them to the best of my ability. Alright, thank you so much. Thank you, everyone.

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Have a good afternoon.

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Thank you. Thank you. Have a nice afternoon.