Channel: Mohammad Elshinawy
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Episode Transcript ©
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Okay, welcome one more time.
So yeah, if you're with us, please have a seat. And I don't think the seats are limited but if they are, our guests for sure,
so we begin, as we customarily do as muslims in the name of Almighty God, Allah.
And then we pray to Almighty God to send his finest Peace and blessings, his salutations to further elevate and honor the most elite members of His creation meaning the Prophets and Messengers he sent to humanity
to model for us human excellence and to bring to us God's revelation God's message to the world.
Welcome once again to our our annual Iftar our breaking a fast our Ramadan, dinner, those breakfast for us Muslims.
And I just wanted to just share a few words on you know,
how I like to explain Islam.
So I have an old friend, and I mean that meaning from a long time ago, and that he's about 40 years older than me now.
Whose name is Joseph Estes. He's Muslim now. And so he goes by the the the Arabic or the Quranic counterpart to Joseph, which is use of you can look him up as the reason why I'm giving you the detail on his name, Yusuf Estes. He's a former Southern pastor
who had become Muslim in 1991.
when people ask him, What is Islam and why do you choose Islam?
He has a very, I think, useful answer that resonates deeply with many people who come from a Judeo Christian background and a Christian background in particular, he says, growing up my entire life, and even in my pastoral role, when I would, you know, educate the masses or lead them in prayer, we would recite what is known as the Lord's Prayer, the Lord's Prayer, the biblical Lord's Prayer, who knows the Lord's Prayer?
Who can tell us the Lord's?
Who can tell us the Lord's Prayer? Let's keep this interesting. Don't worry, I'm not gonna give you candy. No processed sugars before sunset.
Go for it, ma'am. Go ahead.
But it works. You said everything I want you to say you fell for the trap.
Thank you, ma'am. So roughly speaking, that the Lord's prayer goes,
our father that is in heaven without arts in heaven, hallowed glorified, be your name, give us today, our daily bread provide for us right? Thy kingdom come your kingdom come your will be done here on earth, as it is in heaven. He said, so this was like part of my you know, my my conscious ness and my subconscious, that it was part of who I was, it flowed in my veins, the Lord's Prayer by night. And by day, I would echo the sentiment, and I believed in it deeply that God's will is done in the universe, God makes sure the planets don't crash, God sends the clouds to give us rain. God is the one responsible for the fact that oxygen gives us life. And that, you know, there isn't too
much nitrogen out there to ignite the world and make it flammable, that Gods Will orchestrates everything around us right in the atmosphere above us, and so on and so forth. He said,
and here on Earth, God's will is also done, right. There's no exception. And the only exception is the human being right? Because we sort of have been given a degree of willpower a degree of agency a degree of choice in our lives. And so, Islam when I came across Islam, of course, there's a lot that drew him to Islam such as the the narrative on Jesus, the son of Mary, peace and blessings be upon him. That whole Christology front that we can talk about in a second. But he said, Islam means I discovered that Islam means to submit your will to the will of God, meaning everything follows his will anyway. Whereas the human being his test in life is will here will he not align with God's
choices for him? Align with God's guidance, and that is the meaning of the word Islam. The word Islam comes from Islam, which means submission, and it means
For your heart, and for your body, to do its level best to submit to Almighty God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, because it only makes sense. It's only natural, his will controls everything. And he gave you a degree of control. Now, you're the only exception in the universe to see what you're going to do with it. So that's what Islam is all about. And Islam tells us that this is why people uniquely find purpose in Islam. You know, Islam, it's no surprise that it is the fastest growing religion in the United States and in the world.
And these are not Muslim statistics. deletions of the Muslims are exaggerations of the Muslims. One of the main reasons for this when you know, they polled these Muslims that are becoming Muslim, left and right. They said just the belief system makes sense. It's natural. It's it fits as a human being what I expect that there is purely one God alone without any partners. He created me, he provided for me, he also provided a guidance for me a roadmap, and he expects me to do my part to live up to it and told me that I will not be at full functionality I will not be fulfilled, either. Unless I live up to that. That's what the Quran tells us as Muslims. It says, Why am I qualified to join our
Incirlik Ilaria Abu Dune, I did not create the human being, or the jinn, another creation, a parallel creation, if you will,
except to devote their lives to Me. And so devoting our life to Almighty God is the reason for which we were created, it is our function. And so to try to serve any other end would be going against the tide going against our human nature's, and we will never be fulfilled, we will never be rightly guided if we do that, that is basically the appeal the intellectual appeal of Islam, as a system, a way of life or a religion, though I know the word religion is a little bit.
It has its connotations, right?
The second point I wanted to make here is that when I say that God said, I didn't create the human being except to devote their life. To me. The word in Arabic is a bad servitude devotion, a lot of people translated as worship. But a deeper dive, you know, gives you a far more profound appreciation for what God says is our purpose. So the word a bad the in Arabic means to love and adore to the point that you submit. It's not like submit because you are subjugated in a way that is like, humiliating? No, it is. You know, even in English, we often say worship and we mean just adoration, right? Like when they say this person worshipped, I don't know, XY and Z musician. They
mean they loved him, they were obsessed with him, they were captivated, enamored and captivated by him or her right? That is the idea in the Arabic language, which is the language through which God chose to speak to us. Islam is universal, for sure, and its message but the Quran came Arabic and its language for these nuances. I'm explaining because there's there's beautiful subtleties here, that are so beneficial to us. One of them is God saying, I did not create you, except for a bad or a bad that in Arabic, is one of 60 words in the Arabic language that denote love.
The highest of them is very bad,
the highest form of love so why did God create the human being, according to the Quran, we were created to love. And that's also another point of alignment with the biblical narrative. What is the greatest, you know, commandment, to not set parallel to God not set equals to God to love God in a distinct way, with all our hearts and all our minds and all ours? That's what a bad that means. And I know those of you familiar with the Bible are nodding now because this is verbatim what the Bible is saying. So where does Islam come in? These are the points of commonality You were created to serve God and worship Him alone without any partners. And worship means first and foremost love
loving God to the point of willing submission to Him.
So how does Islam his belief system then differ from other belief systems?
Well, we as Muslims believe that God kept sending message after message to humanity, and for whatever reasons, the scriptures became tampered with. Politics, convenience, people are people, right. And so people chose to customize or selectively read or distort or whatever it is, the message is of God for ulterior motives. And so because he is the All Merciful, He is the Most Compassionate, he would send another scripture, followed by another scripture, followed by another scripture, so that whoever sincerely wishes to live for God to live aligned with his will, the will he prescribed his guidance, and whoever wishes to capitalize on their purpose of loving God first
and foremost in life.
Then they can have access to an unadulterated message, authentic revelation. That is what we believe is the Quran and the Quran is the only, you know, divinely revealed scripture that has that does not have these versions. Sure there are translations in every language, and new translations in the same language, you'll find many translations of the Quran, with the Quran in its original form, remains without discrepancy letter for letter. It cannot be removed from the face of the earth, as God promised that would never be removed from the face of the earth. What about the faith system? What do Muslims believe? And I think I'll end there to open the floor to for questions.
The Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him.
And I'll circle back to his role in all of this was asked once at the end of his life, what is what is faith? What does it mean to believe as a Muslim? What does it mean to be a believer? And he summarized that beautifully, you have the answer?
The believer song.
I'll take it. I'll take it. I'll take. I need to hear the song from you a little later. Right? And a few minutes. Don't forget it.
Cool. So he was asked, What is faith? And he summarized faith in what Muslims now call the Six Pillars of faith because, you know, you always start with what's most important, so whatever he said, there are the foundational pillars of our faith. He said, It is to believe in Allah, and his angels, and His scriptures, and his messengers, and the Last Day, the day of judgment, and to believe in destiny, that it's all from God, the good of it, and the evil, the sweet and the sour, right? So let's break this down real quick.
What is, what does it mean to believe in God? Well, in principle, many people, even without subscribing to a faith, religion, say I believe in God, yes. But without revelation, Islam tells you without believing in God,
as he is without him, revealing Himself to you through scripture, you will never be able to love him as he deserves to be loved. If, if our god image if I can borrow some psychic terms for a second, if our god image is blurry, it will not be impactful enough to be, you know, a force in our life to move us towards good. And that is why the Quran roughly 1/3 of the Quran is all about who God is. You know, we as Muslims, many people may or may not know, we were given 99 Names of God.
So Allah the one true God is just one of His Names. of His Names is Al Khalid, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, of his name's Rahman. Ar Rahman means the infinitely Merciful, the one who is more merciful with us than our parents are with us, the one who put the mercy and compassion of our parents into their hearts towards us, the source of every mercy
of his name's Alpha dude. And we'll do it means the most loving and most loving God of his names also isn't just Bob, the one whose power and might cannot be resisted, right? These are just four or five of the 99 names of God to give us a better perspective on who is this Lord that deserves our adoration, because to adore him without knowing him doesn't really make sense, right. But to know him, as he told us about himself, makes it impossible not to love him. So that is the idea. He is the One and Only we believe in one God alone without any partners, no peers, no rivals, no board of trustees, no spouse, no child, none of that. The one and only
the sustainer of all the one that everyone and everything needs at every moment, and he does not need anyone or anything at any moment.
If I if I were to recite to you one of the shortest chapters of the Quran, which is entitled sincere devotion, how do you purify your belief in God and strip it of every blemish? It says, say Paul, who Allahu Ahad He is Allah the one true God, I had the uniquely one and only right, Allah Who summit Allah the sustainer of all let me I need to welcome you lead. He was not born of anyone, nor does he give birth to anyone, because that would mean resemblance, right? And that would also mean non eternality. It means he wasn't there, right?
He does not give birth nor was he given birth to, well, Aamir Khan law who Khufu and I had, and no one can ever compare with him. That's our belief in God in a nutshell, then belief in the angels this is pretty
similar to the Judeo Christian tradition. We believe that angels are sinless beings, created from light as a manifestation of God's mercy and God's power.
He creates them to pray for the believers he creates them to record people's his deeds. He creates them to guard guardian angels, whoever he wishes for them to guard. He creates them to, to pull the souls of every human being at their death, and to deliver them to the next world that is inevitable. Belief in the angels creates it from light
devotees of Almighty God.
And some of their names we know, though they are billions and beyond what we can count, let alone know, we know Gabriel is the archangel,
who God sends to His Messengers trust with the scripture to the messengers on Earth. We know Michael, for example, God appointed with a certain duty and so on and so forth. So belief in God, His angels, His scriptures, we believe in all the scriptures God revealed, as he revealed them. I already mentioned a bit of this already. So we as Muslims believe in the Torah, that God gave Moses a Torah, we believe in the evangel, that God gave Jesus, the good news, the evangel, we believe in the Psalms of David, those that were revealed to these prophets, those that were revealed to these prophets. And what happened, as I earlier mentioned happen. And so the Quran is simply the final
testament, if your frame of reference is Old Testament, the New Testament it is the final testament, sent by Almighty God and preserved and promised to be preserved from corruption, and therefore no subsequent message will ever need to be revealed. That is what we believe about scriptures. And then we believe in what was the next one, Muslims don't answer.
God, His angels, His scriptures, the messengers themselves, we believe in all the messengers of God, that they were the greatest human beings ever have the greatest virtue and have the greatest integrity and have the greatest reliability God sent with them the message to all of humanity, not to get in the way, but to show us the way to be exemplars and models for Almighty God. Cutting the middleman having a personal relationship with your Creator is paramount. There is nothing more paramount than Islam than that.
And so, you know, even biblically, I often think about the verse where it says that Jesus, according to that verse at least, said, The only way to the Father is through me, right? We believe that, but not through me as in praying to Jesus Christ's peace and blessings be upon him, but through his example, through following his footsteps. This is what the Quran came to clarify, that that pivot needs to get reversed back to the message of Jesus Christ Himself, which is to pray to God, to, to prostrate to him, to devote their life to Him, to obey Him to respect his guidance, and so on, and so forth. To belief in the messengers we all we believe, in addition to much of what we just said,
is that the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him was the last and final messenger sent to humanity with the final testament, the Quran
and then belief in the last day, because that's part of believing in God, why wouldn't there be a last day
either because God is not just That's impossible. One of his name's Aladdin, the ultimately just right, or God is not capable. That's not possible either. Because Allah has a dear. He is the all capable the Almighty, or he's not wise that He created us for an aimless reason, or without reason, aimless reason would be like an oxymoron, right? And so Allah says in the Quran fsap tomb anima Holika coma Tabitha, do you really think we are create we created you in play, created you without purpose? We're an alchemy, Lena Allah azza wa jal, and that you will not be returned back to us. He says Glorified is Allah the true king, meaning above such foolishness that would be unwise had He
created us like that? Glorified is Allah the true king, none is worthy of worship with him master of the great throne. So that's belief in the last day where every one will be resurrected, and brought to a different earth and judged in the courts of the Almighty. And he said, even on that day, my mercy will prevail over my wrath. But that also does not mean that his mercy will overcome his justice.
If we get anything on that day that we don't deserve, it will be mercy. So people will be between the mercy of God and His justice. On that day, everyone will have to answer for everything, even that which no one knows about what's hidden inside of our hearts are done, done behind closed doors, or the good deeds as well that no one ever praised us for right, the charity in the alleyway the obedience to our parents, when no one is watching, and so on and so forth. All of that will happen not in this world. This world was set as an examination, and the prices get distributed in the next world. That is the idea of the last the last day, where there are only two desks
nations that destination of God's mercy and those who receive it which is paradise, with the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him told us as contains what no eye has ever seen, with no ear has ever heard, and never dawned upon the imagination upon of a human being, where no one falls sick, or has ill feelings towards another, or ever dies, eternal bliss, where we were first created where Adam peace be upon him was first created, we were made for Paradise for those who live up to aligning God's Will with their own or their will, with God's, or a person may receive God's justice on that day. And that is where the doctrine of the Hellfire for those who kick God's message with
their foot and let life fly them by and assume it is no big deal to play games with purpose. And they would have to answer for that as well. The last and final thing, and with that I close is belief in Destiny. We as Muslims believe that all things are in God's hands. Yes, of what he chose, we'll have what he destined is that we will have a bit of a choice. But even the choice that we make, Will is only free, flexible enough to make us accountable to make accountability, fair. But all things are ultimately in the hands of God. We exert our efforts and we try our best. But we are not just certain we are reassured by the fact that things are not in God's hands. We don't have to
carry our destiny on our shoulders. He carries it for us. The Most Merciful our one true God. That's it. I turned the 15 minutes into 2009 I apologize. I want you all to not shy away from any question. I promise you you will not offend me no matter how hard you try. But don't try.
And please ask away
If mommy says you can.
We had a question from our our youngster, I forgot her name. What was your question that you asked me earlier? I'm sure they have the same question.
It's a good question. You can ask it.
You said why are you praying over there? Is there something inside?
Yes. So that's an excellent question. So all Muslims around the world pray in the same direction.
There is an ancient house of worship, that God commanded Abraham, the patriarch, the father of the prophets to build and that is in Makkah Mecca is in a country that is currently called Saudi Arabia didn't exist. Of course, in the time of Abraham or the time of Muhammad, there is the city of Mecca. In Mecca, there is a sacred mosque, and the kava, if you've ever seen that black building with like the gold trim, it's that little bit decorative. That is the direction of prayer that God chose for the believers. He wanted the believers regardless of where they are, and what their skin colors are, and what time of day they're praying, to stand aligned the unity of humanity, recognizing the unity
of God, the oneness of God. And so wherever Muslims find themselves on the earth, they face the direction of Mecca, to pray in that direction. So if I'm here, I'm praying,
East, right? And if I'm in Yemen, I'm praying north, and so on and so forth. And if I'm in Russia, I'm praying south, the entirety of humanity stands in unison, you know, for eternity of faith, recognizing the one true God and the oneness of their origins.
If we weren't fasting, we'd give up chocolate for good questions.
Anyway, other questions? Come on the controversial stuff.
ask away Ask away please.
We'll just do like 96 right now because we just won the clock
we're gonna have we're gonna
love this more than our own parents love us. How could somebody be sent to hellfire?
You know, we didn't ask them to be here. And then
Google sent to hellfire doesn't
long as you believe.
you don't identify with us
So it's multifaceted. It's an awesome question, very common question.
And without taking the deep dive into moral philosophy together, at least, you know, because not everyone's going to indulge us.
If we could agree that one human being was the best human being on Earth, okay? Honest, philanthropic, charitable, all that, right.
And his parents were the source of all of this. Right? They raised him this way.
And then on the day that they're giving him his Nobel Prize, they say, Do you want to thank anyone for how you got here today?
Someone that helped you along the way?
He says, No, this was all me. Nothing but me. But I think your parents Nope, they had nothing to do with it.
Would that be a good person?
A lot of people would say that's not a good person. Right? Because he's refusing to recognize the shoulders of the giants he's standing on. Right? made it all possible. So without getting into moral philosophy, what isn't isn't good, right?
Could we be good people without our existence?
And without the faculties to be good, right? The wealth, the kind heart, right, all of this, all of this comes from who, from Almighty God, to refuse to recognize and I'll come back to the word refuse in a second, to refuse to recognize that God has any favor in this means that this goodness, hypothetically speaking, this goodness is sort of like plagiarized goodness, we refuse to recognize the source. When we find something really impressive than we realize they stole it from a different author. We call it plagiarism. And we don't just think, oh, that's unfortunate, like we prosecute the person. Right? So this is a little bit of an analogy in terms of just to recognize that in the
Islamic worldview. I know I know, in our religion, God is unimportant. God is irrelevant. Ignoring God is a victimless crime. I'm aware of the paradigm that comes with you know, secular philosophy, but in the grander scheme of things, if there is a God, if there is a Creator, right, creator is more important than creation, and so to disregard the Creator, everything, every other extension of kindness and goodness and help to the creation wanes, is eclipsed by that disregard? Now let me come back to the word refused.
We are not seeing anyone mean Allah forbid if we all have tonight is our last night, right?
And we all stand in front of God in the morning, any one of us who is Muslim, so automatically going to Paradise, and whoever is not Muslims automatically going to the fire. We don't say that in Islam for a number of reasons. Because we don't know what's in people's hearts, right? So there could be a Muslim is a little hard to imagine nowadays as a minority, or at least in our context, who's faking it? They actually can't stand God can't stand his religion don't like the prophet, but for social perks, I'm just gonna keep playing along so I don't ruin the the Muslim equivalent of Christmas, basically, right? I'm just going to play along that person who is not someone who believes right at
heart, so they may not make it to paradise. On the opposite end, someone may not be a Muslim, may not even say I believe, because in their heart, they are not convinced that this is the message of God. Right? And that is why in many places of the Quran, you find verses like when I couldn't be in Atlanta, Basara Sula. And we would not, not, we will not we would not punish without first sending a messenger, meaning it's unbefitting of who we would be acting like that would be an unjust behavior, we would not punish without first sending a messenger someone to clarify the message to them. And in other parts of the Quran, Allah says We have never sent the messenger except with the tongue of his
people, so that he can make clarify for them. And in other parts of the Quran says this Quran has given sufficient warning to whoever it reaches, reaches doesn't mean like a print copy of the Quran in Chinese, then the message hasn't reached you. Right? But once a person recognizes no, this is the message from God, this clearly has divine origins. I really have no answers for this. And then you kick that to the side. And our lives expire without having taken that one back. That is seen as the ultimate crime in Islam. That is not a rejection of God, rebellion against God. Right. believing in His existence. Satan believes in his existence, right? Someone with no that we see as not having no
And so that is what it entails to accept God is when his message comes to you for you to embrace it at least in principle we're all sinners we're all fault we were filled with fault lines every single one of us living up to it is a different issue. Right? But Islam differentiates between someone who is you know Miss stepping and that's all of us and between someone who is rebelling weakness rebellion two layers of
Yeah, faulty practice in Islam that helped a little bit okay enough moreover food moreover food any other questions
I know that I know they're inside and you're reluctant please ask
that's an important question. Food is next. We're gonna have the call to prayer in like two minutes if I'm not mistaken, two minutes about
three minutes and then we're going to break bread. We're actually going to break our fast we usually take a small snack like dates or otherwise they fruits
you're more than willing to enjoy them of course with us.
And then we're going to pray and then eat we'll have our meals in the back in the social hall, right after the prayer.
Sorry, I'm just looking. I'm gonna call on you. But okay, you.
Certainly, murder is a sin in Islam.
Murdering ourselves is still murder. Right? Because Islamically speaking, God gave us the gift of life. And so we should deem life sacred. And if life becomes difficult, God told us there are way better alternatives. I'm not saying this would be an unforgivable sin like the rejection of God. I mean, it would be a breach of what God made sacred, which is life.
Yep, Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Okay, I'll leave the boring stuff out. Ramadan is the month of the year in which Muslims are taught to fast to withhold from their sensual pleasures, the appetites of the body, such as food and drink and intimacy with our spouses.
From dawn until sunset each day, for the month of Ramadan for 29 or 30 days, depending on when we cite the moon it could be 29 or could be 30. And so the Quran says fasting has been prescribed for you. Just like I prescribed it on the nation's before you so you may become better conscious of God. And so fasting has this amazing benefit of re centralizing God in our consciousness. You know, it happens like a rewiring in Ramadan, like, I need to get my coffee. Wait a minute, it's Ramadan, meaning God said I can't meaning I gotta wait a few hours. That whole split second, has endless benefits that re centralization. God is the center of my universe. I am not the center of the
universe. Can imagine how many problems exist in the world just because people think of the center of the universe. Right? Not just in your family, not just your relatives like yeah, my cousin right. Not just that, right. You think of like racism in the world? What is racism? My race, right? It's all egotism in the end. What is tribalism? What is nationalism? It's all right, just the overgrown this the swelling of the egos. And so you centralize God with the act of obedience and also the time to experience how fragile the human being is, few short hours weaken us so much.
And it is for sure it is a time for empathy and to learn what other people are going through. But that is a secondary benefit of the fast it is not the primary benefit of the fast the primary benefit is to become more conscious of God. And that is the fountain of every good after that when God is number one. All things all good things ensue. Because God calls us every good like loving for your brother, what you love for yourself. We all say it sounds good. Sounds pretty we can all agree. But push come to shove. How do I actually do that? By no longer dealing with my brother? I'm dealing with God who puts my brother in my life. I'm reacting to God now right? So all forms of ethics
really require a motivator and there is no greater motivator incentive than God being number one in our life.
Those are just some quick benefits of
of the fast
with God what?
intend for it? Yes, we believe that nothing happens in the universe without God's permission.
Right? And so if evolution happens a little bit a lot, we can talk about that in biology class. But we Muslims have no problem saying that an animal can evolve, for example, or even that a human being might evolve a little bit, right? Maybe I'm not saying science has proved that. That's my fight with the scientific community. But yeah, if something happened, if it happened, it happened by God's permission, because if he didn't permit it would never have happened. Make sense?
Okay, shake your hand.
We'll start with the call to prayer.
Allahu Akbar Allah Akbar
Allah Allahu Akbar Allah
has had one
I shall do and no more hon mother wrestling
shadow numb or home soon
Hassan and fellow
Allahu Akbar medulla who?
So we will line up to pray in a few short minutes the brothers here and the system is also in their dedicated space.
If you wish to pray with us, that is totally fine. That's your prerogative as you wish and if you wish to stay in your seats
if you wish to stay in your seats and just observe you're more than welcome as well feel free and feel at home. And immediately after the prayer we'll step to the back and enjoy our dinner slash breakfast