Unlocking the Complexities of Identity

Mohammad Elshinawy


Channel: Mohammad Elshinawy

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His companions and all those who tried his path, we ask Allah to make us of those who tried his path closely and consistently and endure upon that, until our days in this world are over Allahumma Amin.

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So tonight's topic is going to be about the complexities of our identity, or for many of us, all of us, actually, at least the dual identity, some of us have threefold and fourfold,

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you know, converging, and you're balancing between all of them, but at the very least, everyone here for the most part,

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should consider that they have a dual identity, they have a religious identity as a Muslim, and they have a

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cultural identity, regional identity, national identity as an American. And so how do you balance between your Muslim pneus and your Americanness?

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And this is very important, we should begin with the importance of this subject. The importance of the subject becomes very clear, when thinking about the fact that those that are unable to balance their Muslim ness and their Americanness will most likely fumble their Muslim pneus not their Americanness, you'll probably drop your Islam first. Why?

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Because dropping your Islam is, is easier, socially speaking, right? Like the social consequences, the consequences, you're gonna feel immediately, day in and day out with your friends. And otherwise, you're gonna feel it more if you say I'm not American. But if you say I'm not Muslim, only the minority of this society is Muslim, so you won't feel it as much. A lot of people are like this. And so you need to reconcile these two so that you drop neither, and especially not your Islam. Okay, because most of us will drop our Islam when there's a conflict, they won't drop their Americanness because because we're not Malcolm X. Rahim Allah. You know, Malcolm X Rahim Allah

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He famously said, you know, when he was asked, like, do you consider yourself an American? He said, I am not an American. I am one of 22 million black people that are the victims of Americanism. Rahim Allah Americanism, he means like, the ideology upon which so much of the tyranny and the abuse and the exploitation and all of you know, these evils that are done, happen under this idea of Americanism, American exceptionalism, you know, American elitism, American militarism, all of that stuff, that ideology behind it all. Of course, there's no doubt that the African American community in particular,

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suffered one of the greatest if not the greatest brunt of this along with the, the Native Americans, right. And so he used to say, push back and say, No, I'm not an American. I'm a victim of Americanism, the ideology. And many of us, just to be honest, can say this. And it's not just because we're not black, right?

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It is, because we're just not brave enough to say that and face the social consequences, right? And also, by the way, and I will build my lecture off on this. If you do say it, it's not just that it's,

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it could be misunderstood very easily from you, when you say I'm not an American, right? If you were to say it, it is probably unwise, because it will be misunderstood that you mean this in the absolute sense that you hate all things that are remotely American, right? And what is exactly what exactly do you mean by that? And it's also to be honest, if understood, in the absolute sense, right? is incorrect. Islamically speaking, is incorrect to say I have to drop my national identity, or my coat my cultural identity for the sake of my Islam.

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And so that's really what it comes down to, like, am I American or not? Well, it depends what you mean by American. Right? If being born here, being born here in the United States of America, or if it's the place where I now consider home even if I'm not born here,

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or it's the place, you know, I'm American, because I feel most familiar with this place most attached to this place, most responsible for this place. If that's the definition of being American, then most of us should consider ourselves Americans, right. Right or wrong.

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And now flip it on its head. If being American means

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is agreeing with everything that Americans do.

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Or agreeing with the American government's current policies and what it supports, then you don't have to worry, because then nobody is American, including you. Right? Being American does not mean I agree with all things that are happening within these borders, or all things that are currently legal or illegal doesn't mean that right? Or else every time there's like even a vote in Congress or in Senate or anywhere,

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someone wins the vote, someone loses the vote. Sometimes the vote is split 4951, isn't it? Those who voted against that law, those who voted against that policy, the 49%? Are they suddenly unAmerican? No, not at all. And so American does not mean or else nobody's American, that you agree with all things that happened here in the society or in the law,

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locally, domestically or foreign policy or otherwise, it doesn't mean that because nobody would qualify.

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And I also want to rewind quickly and talk about the ruling because some people have this discomfort with calling themselves anything but Muslim. So is it allowed to call yourself identify with anything but Islam? Is it allowed

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Are we allowed to call ourselves things aside from Muslim?

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What is your proof

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just like a little late and those work. So hi, roomie, so hype the Roman because he was raised in Rome, or under the Byzantine rule, sell man welfare as he said, Man, the Persian because he was in fact, Persian. You know, even the Quran, the Quran, Allah azza wa jal said, what yeah, I'll never come Sure. Obon Wakaba and so the Quran which we just finished studying, Allah says, We made you into nations and tribes we separated you guys, right? Allah caused the family tree of humanity to go in separate ways. So He separated us in a sense, right? Not to mean that our hearts should be divided, right, based on our you know, our ethnic lines, but He separated us we have distinct groups

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within that was intended by Allah subhanho wa taala.

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And also Allah azza wa jal, even with his prophets, he kept saying were Isla mediana ha whom should I iba and to Medina and the people have met the end their brothers your IPE, right? Where Elesa muda Maha whom salah, and to the mood there brother, he is their brother. This is not talking about the brotherhood of humanity, right? He's actually of them born among them, a part and parcel of that group and community that town that city

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and even the Quran if I can cite just one more like important proof regarding titles. The Quran

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gave Muslims different titles in the time of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam didn't Allah azza wa jal say was sabya Kunal ELWA Luna Meenal mu hygena while Ansari and the first to lead the way, who outraced everyone else in goodness and faith from among them? Oh, hi Janine, the migrants and the unsolved they're the supporters. So Allah subdivided Muslims here into what say back to me.

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Well, hygiene and unsought

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what's really useful about the example of hygiene on sod is that

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you may know the Hadith or you should know the Hadith where, you know, an altercation happened between a mahadji man a man from them will hygiene and a man from the unsought. So the mohajir the man who was you know, pranked, basically or struck? He said, Where are the MaHA Giardina to basically so all the MaHA Julian came to his aid. And the Saudi man said, Yeah, well, I'm sorry, where are the ansata at and so the Saudi came to his aid. And so it basically became a standoff between my hygiene simply because they were my hygiene. It's not even about who was right and who's wrong or anything. It's where's my guys? Where's my group? Where's the napkins? Where's my group?

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Where's the Medina? Ian's, as blessed as those two places are as blessed as those names are? Mahajan, Ansari, they're moronic names. The Prophet Alayhi Salatu was Salam heard this and he said, I will be that I will. Jaya Helia Well, Anabaena of hoody come. Are you going back to using the titles of J Helia of the Age of Ignorance before Islam while I'm still in your midst? I'm still among you mean I haven't even the idea. Then you went back to groupism.

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And then he said they're all her for inner ham on Tina.

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leave that alone for it is rotten. What is rotten? The names will hygiene on saw no way. What's rotten?

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What did he mean? La Sato Salam inna Hammond Tina

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using those identities in that way, in that tribalistic way in that cultish way, that is where it becomes.

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That's where it becomes like blind tribalism, blind nationalism.

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You know, many people don't differentiate, and sometimes like it is fine, but sometimes you have to flesh it out between patriotism, and nationalism. Right?

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What's the difference?

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Some of you are agreeing with me. So tell me why you're agreeing with me and the sisters want to help.

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I heard Yeah.

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Oh, and he said, Go for it. Go ahead.

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critiquing, not necessarily ridiculing, right, there's like a love hate on. So that's the idea. Patriotism is I support my country, basically. Right? Patriotism means true patriotism, right? Means you are concerned about what your country does. Right? You have care for your country, your town, your people. That's true patriotism.

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And in that sense, defending your country is would fall under patriotism, sometimes, right?

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Nationalism, or let's say true patriotism versus Let me qualify blind nationalism is when you're proud of your country, no matter what it does, you get the difference. So patriotism is your concern you care, genuinely care about your country.

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And what it does, whereas blind nationalism, you are proud and defensive of your country, regardless of what they do.

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One of them is Islamically approved because it betters your country. The first one, right? And one of them is Islamically condensable. And that is generally you know, ignorant tribalism.

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One of them betters your people, the other one, idolizes your people. And you know, when you idolize your people, you know what you're really doing. You're idolizing yourself, my people, right?

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Like, what is what is like nationalism, what is like?

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racial supremacism, or ethnic supremacy, it's my people, my color skin, my nation, my class, right? It's about me. You never believe that someone else's class or nation or color is superior, right? You visibly mine if you have that disease. And so it's really all boils down to egotism, your ego, your NFC, your Hubble, the neffs. This, this problem of being self centered, that's where blind national ism comes from. That is what the Prophet alayhi salatu salam came to bury and condemn.

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And so Islam does call us to a truer, pure form pure form of patriotism.

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Like, there is you there is a way to understand patriotism, and love your country, right? In the correct way.

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I would you know, in the in the Trump run for elections.

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I don't know if any of you would recall what tank Ted Cruz, one of the biggest things that tanked Ted Cruz, you know, he was asked about basically his loyalties. And he said, listen, he thought this would work like this would speak to his base loudest. He said, I'm a Christian, first, American second. I don't know if any of you remember this. And he was basically done since then. Right? I'm a Christian first, he said, and I'm an American second. And of course, like there was there was a huge uproar, like, Oh my God, how can we accept someone to say that, like, that's the accuracy. Like he's trying to we separate the church and state, he's trying to re marry them again. And then, you know,

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some people very interestingly, very funny to me. They said, can you imagine if a Muslim would have said that, or a Jew would have said that I'm a Muslim first American second,

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That's even like a tone lighter than I'm not an American at all. And it still wouldn't have been accepted of a Jew or a Muslim, to say I'm a Muslim or a Jew first, and I'm an American second.

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And that's important to keep in mind because

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it sprouts from this assumption.

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that there's no way you can reconcile between both, like there's an inherent conflict, right? You know, in contractible, you can solve this conflict between your religious identity and your national loyalty. But for the Muslim you can solve it right? You can love your country without compromising your relationship with Allah subhanho wa Taala whatsoever. Because the Muslim number one, for example, is supposed to love good for all people.

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Including the people all around him in his immediate country, right or wrong. You're supposed to love hate for all people. We serve Allah azza wa jal, in part by serving people.

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We protect people from harm, we forbid harm. We are, you know, prohibited from treason. We don't betray those who have entrusted us, all of that is like a staple of Islamic values. And the Muslim at the same time, knows that he's Islam. Here's the other side of it forces you to be a sincere adviser to your country, says Viet sincere adviser to your people and not a bandwagon that's part of loving your country now. And so if your country is going to your country or your country, men are going to like

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you be bent on militarism. Going back to the Malcolm X example, Rahim Allah, Allah

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or, you know, perverted norms between men and women, this this this gender mess, that everybody's entangled in the Muslim part of loving his country, he has to love his country, in what sense, in the sense that he has to stand up and say, I must abstain, I must make it clear. I'm not down with this. I don't accept this. I follow a divine code of morality, and I'm inviting you to it. I'm going to conscientiously and openly say, I do not agree with this. That's part of loving your country that makes you more American than the next guy. Just keep that in mind. This is how we understand the Islamic the proper the pure way to love your country.

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You know, like Muhammad Ali Rahim, Allah the famous boxer, why did he go to prison?

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Why did he go to prison?

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He refused to

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go to war. Right? When he was being drafted into the war, he refused to go. He practice what's called conscientious abstention. He lost his belt went to prison for it. Islamically speaking and we should say this without any sort of hesitation. This is how you love your country.

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By not condoning not accepting, not participating in this sort of behavior. Didn't the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam say, support your brother, whether he's an oppressor or he's oppressed? They said if he's oppressed, it's obviously rasool Allah. But how do I support my brother when he's an oppressor? He said by stopping him from oppression. Right? So he was doing his little part in his little corner of the world of trying to say, I'm going to make a stand here, and I hope more people are inspired by it, more people fall in line.

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And likewise on part of being a sincere adviser to our country and our people is when our people, you know, overplay, overplay identity, like the concept of americanus and identity and so on and so forth. You remind them you remind them that there is also a brotherhood of humanity as well. You help balance your people. You know,

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like when the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said,

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All of you are from Adam and Adam alayhis. Salaam was from dust. I'm not saying I'm not proud to be a citizen of the United States. But at the same time, I am a global citizen, and we are all brothers in a sense, you know, something very interesting that I wish Muslims had not said, when people I guess, during the election runs also, you know,

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racism and prejudice and bigotry was at an all time high, and many Muslims of course, you know, there is some usefulness to it when they were would say, I'm an American just like you right? But there's also a problem with this statement. What's the problem was saying I'm an American just like you

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you are and it is a good tactic like you're saying, you know, Americans this and Americans that so I'm holding you to your own values while I'm an American like you, fine. But what is the problem with saying too much harping too hard on that line? I'm an American just like you

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think with me

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up there, man, go for it.

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I'm sorry, well, I'll blame it on my glasses.

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No, the problem is you've already accepted that a person needs to be an American to be dignified, right? Like, does someone really need to be an American like the rest of the Americans in order to be respected as a human being? So you have to be aware of this. When you say I'm an American, like you, who said, You need to be American to be dealt with, with respect.

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So our brothers and sisters who are Afghan refugees right now, are they not deserving of being treated like human beings, until they go through the green card and then citizenship process? This is the issue. It's a double edged blade. And so we part of you being a sincere advisor, a true patriot is to remind people to not dehumanize others to not overlook the humanity of others, simply because they're not part of your national identity yet, on some paper somewhere, that's part of this sincere advice, that you don't want your people to go down that path, that ugly path, that bigoted path, you know in the story of Musa and frown.

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One of the family members of frown you know from the Quranic class, Allah records about him that he objected to frown and his people and was pleading with them to snap out of it snap out of their like their supremacy snap out of their superiority complex snap out of their arrogance. And he said to them, yeah, call me let cool Moon Moon kuliah OMA Avahi arena, fill out all my people. You have sovereignty today. You're powerful today, you're the superpower today, and you're dominant on Earth. For me on Sorona mean, Betsey law, he injure Anna, but who is it that's going to save us we're all in it together. I don't want you to tank because I'll take with you, who is going to save us from

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the punishment of Allah if it comes to us.

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And so I'm a part of this ship. And that is why I cannot allow this to happen while I'm silent. That's part of being a true patriot that Islam calls you to, or as the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said

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when a when the oppressor is left unchecked, you Ushiku N er O Muhammad Allah who be recalled the manner in the Allah who will soon punish them all for not doing their part basically, at checking the oppressor. That's part of patriotism. Islamically speaking.

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The last part I wanted to mention quickly, in the interest of time, so we spoke about the importance of the subject so that we don't fumble our Muslim Enos.

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And we spoke about the ruling. To the technical ruling, it's fine to identify with other than Islam, you could be an Egyptian, an American, a chef, very right, Maliki a hand. These things have always been widely accepted. But when they become toxic, they become tribalistic. They become a determinant of human value. This is when Islam condemns them

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and disqualifies them.

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And then the true form of patriotism that Islam calls us to.

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We are not you know,

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double agents. We are not dishonest. We are not treacherous. But at the same time, a part of that is that we are not silent. We are active participants in society. We are sincere advisors when and where we can and we will not bandwagon we will not because we are privileged to be with Allah azza wa jal having received his guidance and that's the last part just to appreciate

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the privilege and the wisdom in Allah Subhana Allah to Allah telling you to identify with him first subhanho wa Taala in Mr. Walia, Kamala who?

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wa rasuluh who will Lavina Amano when Allah subhanho wa Taala says your truest allies are none other than this is Quran, none other than Allah and His messenger and the believers. Meaning this is the worthiest relationship, you're worthy as the bond, your worthiest Association, and it is also the most honorable, like you don't want to downplay your, you know, like, what does it mean to be Muslim? It means that you belong to, you know, the OMA that, you know, Allah sent to his greatest book subhanho wa taala. He sent it down on the greatest OMA by way of the greatest messenger right? Gibreel Alehissalaam to his greatest prophet and messenger, the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi

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wa sallam in the greatest city Mecca

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in the greatest Knight Laylatul Qadr in the greatest

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lifetime, the lifetime of the Sierra, in the greatest language, Arabic right with the

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greatest, most complete form of guidance. That's what you're associating with here. This is greatness and prestige that Allah azza wa jal wants you to associate, you know, with. And when you do that, just appreciate what you get when you do that. That number one liberates you from like, the superficial form of national pride. Because at the end of the day, even if we say it's permissible to raise flags, the Prophet SAW Saddam had the tribes keep their flags, right. But what does it actually mean the flag? What does it actually mean? The like the, you know, the lines on the map? What did they mean? Like, does that actually have value that we make this up? It's arbitrary, right?

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Right or wrong? Like the US and Mexico two step, isn't it? What changes exactly when you step into Mexico, or step into the United States? You know, Holland and Germany. Right. and Europe? Also, it's a step you cross the street, and you're in a different country, does that actually have value? Or is this something we chose in our heads as like a social agreement between, you know, populations between governments? So it liberates you from like, trying to find or understand value from something so superficial? That's number one.

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Number two, it gives you a great sense of security.

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Because, you know,

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identifying with Allah, first and foremost, like that's a passport that doesn't expire. Right, that's a passport that won't get revoked. That's an association that it doesn't really matter who questions it so long as you have it. You see in Islam, you know, speaking of passports, we believe that every last human being is in reality, in reality, it's in like National exile. None of us are home. We're all locked out of what?

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Of what of Jana, that's our homeland, all of us. And we're all trying to get back in right? And identifying with Allah azza wa jal is the way to get back in

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you know, even if I am Rahim Allah very beautiful he says it in poetry. He says for how you Allah Jannetty adenine for in NA mana zielona Lulu Wolfie, Halle mocha yamu we're lucky Nana cibula Do we for hell Tara Naru Illa Allah Nina when Islam he says so come with me to the eternal gardens. No expiring right the eternal gardens for they are our first homes and in them the tents the party tents await us. But we for now, we are captives of the enemy.

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We're prisoners of war. Who's the enemy?

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Shaitan we're still like you know trying to get out of the the shackles right? Well I can Nana Samuel I do. We are prisoners of the enemy. The enemy is Satan. Right the devil for Hell, Tara. So do you think we will be able to get back to our homelands and finally find security. Finally find stability. You know finally find belonging

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in sha Allah, may Allah bring us home safely.

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And this also this identity can be pulled from you by someone else. You know that story? I've mentioned the Hogberg Allah knows how long ago that story of when Omar Abdullah who answered to like the wife of Mr. Aveda, he said, Well, Hola Hola, Su and Nikki, I'm gonna humiliate you. She said you will not be able to write. And then her husband says no, no, Ahmad is gonna be able to she said, Well, Allah, He will not be able to, will he be able to pull my Islam off me after I've gained it?

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So he said her husband said no. She said, then I don't care what he does after that. It's irrelevant. It's a non factor. So this is the idea of connecting with Allah azza wa jal, and also connecting with Allah first. It's really just so just and so fair, it's so equitable, because our national identities, a lot of them are just I think Malcolm Rahim, Allah, he used the word coincidental characteristic, I just happen to get born here. Right? Like, maybe my kid will happen to get born somewhere else, right? And so no one is able to say I am better I am God's chosen people simply based on something you had no hand in, right? But when you're associating with Allah, that's

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like a metric. That's something a way that people get measured fairly, because anybody could just do it. Right. Like one person said, and I don't think it's a perfect example. But they said how come you Muslims like don't allow non Muslims like to Mecca and Medina. Right.

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And I always start with the remedy that answer vehement ly, so don't ask me as the Saudi government like I'm not gonna do it.

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What do you know, there is some, you know, like, they're gonna tell, you know, the Prophet Muhammad Ali salatu salam said this, right. If they're well read, they'll know that right

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And this is also very wise because you know, Risa Alehissalaam Jesus peace be upon him was overrun and his disciples were all slaughtered and murdered, right? And so Allah azza wa jal sent the final prophet, and he wanted for that to be a safe haven for Islam, a nucleus and a credo for Islam to come back to where Islam would never be threatened. And where it goes after that is Allah's Bounty and his guidance of the world, right? And so, that stronghold of Islam and its values, and so on and so forth. But the idea is, here's the third answer that I often give people, I tell them Wallahi, like, every country has visa requirements, doesn't it? Like what's harder to get to Mecca and

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Medina, or to get to America for an unAmerican?

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That America, like it's extremely simple. You want to get to Mecca and Medina, you just say sugar that allows you to hang on to that Allah share. Can I have a letter that said, I took my Shahada, people come to me for that all the time, by the way, why? Because either the girl's dad doesn't believe he became Muslim.

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Or they need a homeowner visa. And so he just gives a piece of paper and they go fill out the application, they get to the meeting, they get the visa, it's actually very simple.

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But that is the equity of Islam. Allah subhanho wa Taala is not hindering people. It's not a national factor. It's not a racial factor that nobody has a hand in. Allah does not play favoritism. Unlike human beings. Allah is fair subhanho wa taala. You know, you want to associate with ALLAH associated with his messenger associated with his righteous servants. You want to say you're a believer. That's it.

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That is the equity of the you know, Islamic identity and its primacy also, when you become a Muslim and you identify with Islam, you're shattering all the other stuff right? Shattering time even shattering place. You even shattering you know, humanity. And in essence, that sounds wrong, right? But the requirement of even being human is not even there anymore.

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In our Tashahhud, as we said, when you say a Salam or Elena Allah, Allah, Allah is solid when peace be upon us and Allah's righteous servants. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said, this will extend and reach every righteous servant of Allah in the skies and in the earth. You're connecting with all of them. Right? So this is the honor and the equity that you want to appreciate about the Islamic identity.

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And in that sense, as some of our scholars have said,

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the Muslim Egyptian let me only apply this to Egyptians because I'm Egyptians, I don't want anyone get upset at me.

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The Muslim Egyptian

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Does he love more? The Egyptian

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or the Israelite?

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If the Egyptian is Pharaoh, and the Israelite is Moses,

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I'm obligated Islamically speaking right to associate with the righteous servant of God Moses, though he's not Egyptian, right? And this associate from the tyrant for our own who is Egyptian right or wrong? Did in the Prophet SAW Selim say national lamb Musa mean whom we have more of a claim to Moses than them?

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Muhammad Can I grab a Palestinian example now? Give me the cut Palestinian converse to that.

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What is it?

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Yeah, think of David and Goliath.

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You want to share it?

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If you're a Palestinian, right? You're a Palestinian, Muslim Palestinian. Do you love more? The Israelite the Israelite that would allow Islam for Right? Or do you love more? The Palestinian jealous Goliath?

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You definitely love the Israelites over the Palestinian, even though you're Palestinian. Yes. This is a good exercise to understand that we are with the righteous servants of Allah subhanho wa taala. When push comes to shove, right, in good causes in good causes as well. And maybe we'll end right by speaking about that. But the Prophet alayhi salatu salam and a final example he said, the most beloved of you to me, and those that will be seated closest to me on the day of judgment are

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those best in character, right? Haha cynical McCullough con, the ones best in character. And so naturally, if you love Allah subhanho wa taala, the byproduct of that will be that you're going to have to love his prophets most because Allah loved them most right? Heavy, heavy, heavy, they say right. The beloved the one that is loved by the one I love I gotta love them too. Right?

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And so if you love Allah, you will love His prophets and you will love their Sahaba and you will love the righteous servants of Allah azza wa jal is just

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Natural that will generally naturally organically just happen

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but and that is why you as a Muslim American should be very easily you know capable of explaining that you have a special bond to this OMA

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not just to Islam but to the OMA of Islam and that does not have to conflict with your national identity as an American you have a bond with this OMA a bond that is not even racial upon that is not national a bond that is pure actually then all of this but it doesn't conflict with national loyalty with the patriotism and the way we described it. I hope those like four major points were of use to you any questions on this

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Yes sir.

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abide by the law of the land, right okay. So,

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we saw last time also law living in