Channel: Omar Suleiman
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Salam aleikum wa rahmatullah. The struggle for social justice has been on many of our minds. There are so many issues out there that we care about police brutality, we care about things like the plight of indigenous the the plight of minority groups, income inequality as Muslims, what is our role with regards to these issues? What's the role of these issues in our faith? And how do we navigate some of the issues that arise with regards to some of these causes?
Welcome to doubletake, a podcast by yaqeen institute that looks into questions and ideas regarding our faith as Muslims that give us pause. Today on the show we have none other than Dr. Omar Suleiman, the founder of yaqeen Institute, the president of yaqeen Institute, he wrote the article faithful activism, and today on the show, we're going to discuss just that faithful activism show Hamas today man, thank you so much for joining doubletake. This is your first episode inshallah. There'll be many, many more. This is such an important episode but thank you so much for for joining us. Because I can look at I'll let you know if I come back depending on how bad you grill me. I've
seen what you've done to some of the others. So I'm like already getting like nervous in my in my seat. You know? You know, honestly, I was nervous today because we're in a makeshift studio. As you can see, I'm in Melbourne, a friend's studio and the last time I sat down to record with you shamari you might recall
just so that I can get it right. I was in Qatar and I hired a room in a hotel, so that it can be peaceful away from everyone.
I press record and it just didn't work. So hopefully this time it works inshallah inshallah.
Chef. Look, you're you're a chef here any ma'am. We take
faith from you, we take religion from you. What led you to getting involved in activism and then riding on activism? Zach alafaya. So that's a very general question, but it's a good one In short, a lot of time to start with. So I think that you know, one of the things that's very important is that for a Muslim we act out of this idea of in an animal, right. Knowledge and action and when it comes to I'm not assignee when it comes to action, that includes private deeds and public deeds, right? And typically, you know, the word activism kind of is a bad word sometimes now because immediately has certain connotations. I'm sure what you're gonna ask me about insha Allah to Allah. But for us,
it's not a slaughterhouse. Right? It's talking about public, good deeds, and, you know, sigma, doing service to society, helping people standing up against injustice. And these are things that are part and parcel of the sin of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam his person, it has a lot to set up. What was he known for? What are these? What are the alongside and her say to him, when he got back from headlock after receiving the first revelation? What was the profit slice of thumbs? We have, you know, explaining his own credibility and his own service to his people when he stood on a slip up for the first call, how does the loss of penalty describe them as a loudmouth and alameen as a
mercy to the world and Lisa Villa, and to well overdue How can pivot and mash up they will never have the very famous verse in certain bacara, where Allah pants I mentioned that righteousness is not merely the acts of worship, but it is also beyond the prayer and beyond those things. It's also the acts of charity, the acts of justice. And for us as Muslims, the acts of justice are righting the wrongs in society that often are disproportionately remedied by charity. So it's one thing to say that we're going to be there in the sigma in the service of those people who are muslimeen, who are wronged it's another thing to say, we're going to actually try to stop the wrongdoing that
continues to lead people to these situations in which they are hurting. And so that is, you know, personally a motivation that's to live as much as we can in accordance with the ethics of the prophets of Allah, how it was set up in society today, both in the global sense and in the domestic sense. And then beyond that, it is to also make sure that we are acting authentically out of the sin of the Prophet slice of them, meaning that we are actually you know, doing what the prophet sallallahu wasallam taught us how to do. I want to I'm going to get to the point of what like activism means for our faith in a few moments, but just for the purpose of this conversation, when
we talk activism, what are we talking about? Are we talking about looking after Muslim causes, building mosques, making sure that Muslim
you know, children are not oppressed or you know, we're talking about mainstream issues. Are we talking about the Mexican border, or what are we talking about? Exactly, when
We talk activism in this in this context, your desire to love her. So we were talking about I think all of those things, because all of them are important to us as Muslims, right? So the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, when he saw people that were in pain, people that were in need people that were hurting the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam would support those people. So there are things that obviously are compounded by the Islamic elements. So for example, Philistine classic example, because we're in the midst of Palestine right now, right? When someone says, Is Palestine a Muslim issue? Yes, there's no doubt that Al Aqsa and that the holiness of the land and the place
makes it a Muslim issue, but it's also a human issue. So you don't have to be Muslim to care about Palestine. But if you are Muslim, you should care even more for Palestine. So, for us as Muslims, you know, when we look to these causes of people that are being harmed, or when we look to issues around us, sometimes that means advocating for Muslims that are being wronged and sometimes that means advocating for non Muslims that are being wrong, but all of that is within the realm within a title of an Islamic cause. And something that should deeply concern us. Okay, and you're saying it's an Islamic cause? That's, that's a huge, you know, a huge statement.
As a Muslim, there's so many things to do. There's protecting my prayer, protecting my relationship with the Quran, being good to my parents, family members, etc.
How important is activism in that list of priorities that I have as a Muslim, you know, I have my relationship with Allah that I need to protect, there's that the hazard that I need to pray at night to protect my faith? Where does activism fit in that kind of hierarchy? And how important is it as a Muslim? Why is it a Muslim issue? So everything in the deen is important. And that's why it's important for us not to also think that we can disconnect from salah and those things and downgrade them and say that well this is more important or this is it the entire thing is what we learned from the profit slice and the closer we become to balancing ourselves out with the life of the profit
slice alum in regards to the Riba death and the mama, not the acts of worship, and some of the acts that involve society around us, the more well rounded and more pleasing we become in the sight of Allah subhanaw taala. But what I you know, what I would say is that the same core,
you know, I just take for example, out of 811, you can be within, okay, where Allah subhanaw taala initially reveals and this is in his ama, when he talks about people that are not honest, that betray the dean, that belie their Dean and Allah subhanaw taala assess for that he can lead either on your team, what are your blind, and miskeen for way doing and will slowly right, so Allah addresses the mistreatment of orphans and the neglect of Salah in the same context, the neglect of prayer and the neglect of the orphan in the same context. And so those things are deeply connected we find in the Quran as well, that when Allah subhanaw taala mentions pm a little when he mentions
the night prayer, Allah Subhana Allah mentions right after that, how can that aloneness certainly when my room that that person during the day is going out there and serving those who are deprived, whether they are asking or whether they are not asking, they're out there and they are serving the people, and they are paying extra attention to the creation of Allah subhanaw taala with their charity, so just like at night, they are paying attention to Allah subhanaw taala and rising up in prayer, while other people sleep during the day, they are paying attention to the creation of Allah subhanaw taala that other people are not looking towards, and they're trying to help them. So as a
Muslim, you know, you can't read, wait a little tougher theme where a loss of parents condemns, you know, economic injustice, for example, and the cheating within the economic realm and not make a connection, you can't really then mobile that you see that to be a dumb cookie that when the young girl that was buried alive is asked for what crime were you killed, and then not make a connection to a young girl that is being mistreated, whether that is at the border of the United States, or that is under a bomb of the United States and some other part of the world. You can't read them whether they're Muslim or non Muslim or non Muslim or non Muslim. Absolutely. So powerlite like,
what I'd like to understand from you, Chef, like how, what was there a moment where you, you came to that realization that actually activism, getting involved in mainstream causes, protecting the interests of Muslims, but also non Muslims who are being oppressed? Was there a moment where, you know, you you came to that realization that this is part of my faith, or was it just something you you were raised with,
you know, somehow, first of all, again, I depart from the word activism as much as as sort of the the, the importance of seeing it from the
lens of what we learned from the Prophet slicer then for me that was looking towards my parents. I've spoken about my mother, may Allah have mercy on her on many different occasions, who was someone that would write poetry on Palestine and Bosnia and at the same time, that would teach us that you never look away from that beggar, or from that person that's in need on the corner of the road that everybody else is driving past that you always do something?
You know, and I learned it from my father, who was someone that would debate on Philistine he was a professor, he would always be the person that would be at the debates. You know, I remember him debating an IDF General, and professors have all sorts of he was the one guy on the other side, and he just he handled it so well, Mashallah. And at the same time, you know, he was deeply invested in, in the cause of inner city, non Muslim youth and making sure that they also were receiving justice and using what he had of his own education to support them. And then at the same time, you know, coming home one day and finding that we're going to have refugees from Kosovo that are going to live
with us for the next few months. And then where's our car, he donated it to refugees. So for me, it was like that was my example of Islam was looking at my parents and the way that they live their Islam and how that translated into just such a sincere dedication, to upholding the dignity of human beings without kolomna many of them are lost parents, I mentioned that we have honored we have dignified the child of Adam. And so the way that they live, that was so inspiring to me, and in fact, a means of saving my own faith, you know, Subhan Allah that gave me the right to see the way that they live their Islam and the way that they were very intentional about connecting that back to
the Prophet sallallahu. It was and that we've learned this from the Prophet slice of them, that when you see people that are in need, when you see people that are hurting, you help them you do what you can, to help them and that you come at it from a place of Allah subhanho wa Taala will ask me about them. That's a very different framing than, you know, just a humanistic framing. No, Allah has given rights to all of these different creations, and Allah will ask me about them. And, you know, in an environment where I grew up, by the way, which were very few Muslims around, right, I went to public school my whole life, I had very few Muslims around me growing up. But the way that my parents
taught me how to live Islam, how would their example was the most inspiring way of connecting to the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam. And it really made me love and appreciate the Prophet, slice alum, so much more. So that's, that's where I come at it from, and of course, but I grew up in Louisiana. I grew up around. I know you're in Australia. Y'all don't have racists in Australia, but we have no we don't. We don't have any non racist.
But you know, I grew up seeing Klan rallies, like Ku Klux Klan rallies, I saw burning crosses, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, I saw David Duke, I saw some of the prominent racist a lot of that happened in the deep south in Louisiana, and experiencing racism and the ugliness of it, right, seeing it being carried out, both by state and by society.
And the way that my father, and my mother connected that immediately before hashtags, and before social media before from Ferguson to Palestine, they connected the injustices that they were seeing, to the injustices that actually led them out of Philistine and led them out of Palestine in the first place. And all of that to them was from the Prophet sallallahu wasallam was from a consistent Islamic framing and a consistent prophetic lens upon society. sure how I'm gonna get into a couple of juicy questions, but I'm really curious now that you're mentioning your parents, and how do you
how do you balance between this activism or kind of fighting injustice? And the other more traditional things that we have in our faith? Like a bad?
How do you balance between the two?
They're both very bad. That's the point. Right? So when we're acting out of our own framework, they're both forms of Riba. You know, I'm gonna use this to plug a book just because it's sitting here but 40 on justice was the first series that we did at europeen. And it was I had the if 40 Hadith of the Prophet slice I'm on an either and dissolve the fish if Muhammad Chanel, we, you know, it was it was actually partly his idea and his framing and sort of helping us address this, that we have a dean that is so explicit, no one was more explicit on these things in the profit slice of them. And if you just want to know how all of this has evolved, and all of this is part and parcel
foundational to the message, listened to jaffle, the lavonne whose speech and avicennia How did he describe Islam to in the joshy it's probably the greatest speech about Islam that you'll ever have. He covered it all right, so he bada is all about
And so what that means is gala gala is calling people to Allah out of primarily concerned for their hereafter. Right That's what Tao is. Kidner is serving people for Allah primarily out of concern for their dunya for their worldly affairs, when the prophets lie, some stood on a suffer. And he called them to Allah, what was his what was his basis? He said, If I was to tell you that there was something coming to harm you on the other side, would you believe me? Yes, you are a slob. I mean, and so at the profit slice on the saying, you know, I'm always there for you in regards to your worldly issues, I make sure that you're taken care of I you know, I'm always concerned for you in
regards to your worldly affairs. So of course, you should trust me and that I'm concerned for your hereafter as well. So you can't tell someone I'm concerned about you here after but I don't care what you live in, in this life. You know, your your life could be you know, for lack of a better expression right? Hell on Earth, right. That's a that's a that's an expression but I'm trying to save you from hell in the hereafter. No, it doesn't work that way. Right? as easily it came out and it somehow it somatic will what meaning are overriding, right so the prophets lie. Some had this dilemma, this care for everyone in regards to the worldly affairs and in regards to their here after
but then he had a special a special mercy a special place in his heart for those who believed as well. So that is part and parcel of our ibadah dalla and sigma go hand in hand, calling people to Allah serving people for Allah, concern for their Dean concern for their hereafter concern for their worldly affairs, concern for justice, all of these things are packaged in the same way and I just tell people spalla read the speech of Jaffa will the allot of time and hope to an ingestion of the senior. That's how the early Sahaba understood the mandate of the call of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam from the very beginning. Shia Hamas, I'm going to ask you a question. That's
honestly like I faced a situation where I've been
asked to get involved in certain causes
that in that are in opposition to my faith.
And I'm not very comfortable with it. And I keep thinking of the Hadith where the processor Lim says Well, hello by Ian Hara mobian, you know that, that the halaal is very clear. And haraam is very clear. And in between is the gray areas. And whoever falls into the gray areas falls into how
so I get that they're like we need to be on the frontlines of fighting injustice. But living in western contexts on the frontlines of injustice.
I'm being told a certain things that are against my faith. And it's, for example, the the LGBT issue and I want to get into that, but in general,
where do I draw the line? Like how do I interact with causes that I feel are not in
alignment with my faith? Yeah, yeah, no, exactly. So
you know, I think, by the way, the first advice when someone asked me What's your first advice to activists,
I say to them that the harm can never become valid, you cannot make the harm Hello.
Because what is haram by the Quran by the Sunnah of the Prophet slice and I'm or with the map or with the consensus of the scholars is head on period and so you cannot make the Haram holla you cannot champion the Haram you cannot support how there is absolutely no way that we should allow the shape and to fool us into thinking that it ever becomes okay to advocate for or to champion what is in opposition to the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet slicin them or the consensus of our our scholars over time. So that's one thing that's very important. And I think that's why the word activism becomes such a loaded term because when people think activism, they immediately take on,
you know, a host of issues and they think that they are, you know, all inextricable they think that none of them can be can be separated from one another. So they're all the same. And the reality is, is that as Muslims, we should be very clear about what we are advocating for. And so if I'm at an anti war protests
and you know, I'll tell you that
for me the anti militarism spaces are the strangest spaces because who usually is the most consistent when it comes to the anti war stuff. I don't know if it's the same thing in Australia, but it's people that are just straight up hippies, right like, and don't say that in a derogatory form form but it's people that that will that will be involved in, you know, the anti war throughout Democratic and Republican establishments. They're just always there. And sometimes they advocate for all sorts of things. But you know what, right now we're here because we're against the war in Iraq classical example.
You know, large
protest some of the largest protests in the world happens. When the war of Iraq started, unfortunately, the word doc still happened. And, you know, many innocent people were killed and the devastation still there, but the largest protests in the world that came after the war on Iraq, to try to stop the war on Iraq. So when you go to anti war protests, you know, it's like, okay, all of these different people are here. And it's this huge coalition and this huge group of people, and there are all sorts of things. But right now, look, we're here because we're opposed to the war on Iraq. We're here for Palestinian rights. That's why everybody's here right now. Right?
The same thing could be true. You know, when it comes to the migrant issue here, how there was a time when family separation first started happening in the United States, treatment of migrants at the border has been horrible. under Obama, under Trump and still under Biden, but there's family separation where, you know, in punitive measures, they were taking the parents away from the children. We actually had situations here in Dallas, where children were on the plane, and they were writing notes to other passengers, please help me find my mom. It was heartbreaking, right? Like the separation of children from their parents. And that was my first time going to the border over and
over and over again, I went to, you know, the border from from Texas, McAllen. latas, San Diego Tijuana, we went to send the San Diego border, right after there was tear gassing of the people on the other side. And it's like border protests, the border protests because of the treatment of people at the border. And some of the protests were definitely strange. There were all sorts of things that were coming about sort of in real time. And I think for us, it's important to keep reminding ourselves like, Look, we have to advocate for righteous causes and righteous causes only and we have to be very careful to not let the righteous causes veer into starting to advocate for
things that are not righteous causes that are not found in the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet sly seldom, anytime there's the killing of an innocent person, you know, which happens often, you know, maybe at the hands of police, for example, anti police brutality, protests, things of that sort, it gets great very quick, because protests, the whole protest scene is very fluid. And, you know, things just just happened right? on the spot that's very hard to organize that.
But as Muslims, it's important for us to keep on getting back to Okay, what are we here for? And we don't take on causes that are not from our Deen not from our tradition, we have to constantly sort of insist upon that, that we're here for these particular issues. And this is what we advocate for. And we never advocate for harm in the process. And we make that clear that we don't advocate for harm. And that, you know, while other partners have different motivations, for example, while they're at some of these different issues, maybe they're driven to the table for different reasons. And they also are at other tables, and maybe even on opposite opposite ends of us on certain issues.
Right. Right now we're here for this issue. And that's the issue we're all going to work on. But we might be on opposite sides on other issues. And that's okay, I should not be expected to advocate for something that is against my principles against my conscience. And that should not be a litmus test for me to be productive in society, or serve the poor and serve the marginalized and the oppressed. No, like we can do that. And we can be true to our Islam, in fact, act out of our Islam. And I think it's important for us to keep on insisting upon that and to not to not lose ourselves in that, and I start doing myself, should I start with myself?
Then you feel like there's a risk in rubbing shoulders with people or causes that you may not agree with?
Even if you have like a common cause, and you're there for a common purpose. Isn't there a risk that you kind of?
Were getting too close to those who may disagree with? Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, we should try to be judicious and that's something that over time, look, I mean, the amount of protests that have happened in the United States in the last 10 years. You know, it's like every other day, there's a vigil a protest, because there's disaster constantly happening, right.
And we should be more judicious, we should be more suspicious of some of those environments. You know, tried to sort of learn from experience about where we invest our relationships and and build firmer Coalition's who we build firmer coalitions with generally speaking, you know, when it's the issue first and there's like 20 3040 organizations that are coming together for a singular righteous issue, then it's kind of understood that no one is bearing the the identity or some of the platform of the others that are at the table for that. This
Lawler the coalition becomes the more that it becomes about who's at the table and not what's at the table. And I think that some of those smaller groups that we really invest in when it comes to relationships, those are the ones that that we should, you know, those types of people or those groups that we invest in long term build deeper relationship with should be less problematic. And we should be judicious about, you know, can you give me examples of those groups that you're talking about? Just so that? Yeah, please. So I think I think for example, you know, when people think about social justice, they immediately think about, you know, just that there's the far left groups, very
progressive, very liberal, very secular, you know, have a lot of issues that that, you know, that we would not agree on. And then when it comes to religion, they think only right wing, evangelical Christian, and there's a lot of gray in between, I think, probably the groups that we have not built enough with, and really try to,
you know, to invest in our relationships with our religious minorities, people that are deeply religious, that have some of the same restrictions, some of the same, you know, the words conservative and progressive, and these types of things are often misconstrued because they carry loaded meanings with them, but are, quote unquote, socially conservative, right, they have traditional views on certain things, just like we do. But at the same time, they're very involved in social services, they're very much so called towards areas of justice. So they're trying to sort of protect themselves, and make sure that they're able to practice their religion freely without being
persecuted. At the same time, they are standing up righteously for others that are being persecuted, that are being harmed.
And so, you know, I think when it comes to religious minorities in particular, those are the groups that we may mean need to really foster deeper relationships with insha, Allah to Allah to understand that, and to work together. So that we don't have that. And you know, I recently did a conversation with a shift that would would eat on sacred boundaries, and you can look it up, which if there was really sacred, sacred boundaries, and he was talking about his own experience, right now, he sort of came to certain relationships that he chose to invest more into, where there were groups that did not pose as many problematic issues for us as Muslims, but we could work together on righteous
issues. And, you know, shared some of the same concerns and some of the same hesitations about the hostility towards religion that might be found in some of these circles of, of social justice shakaama I get the point. When we're involved in activist spaces, we advocate for issues that
are not in contradiction with our faith, I get that point. And I want to touch on one issue, which is a huge wave across across the world, not only Western societies, and that's the LGBT issue. I'm just gonna read an excerpt from your
from your article about faithful activism if you don't mind, and I want to get your
Are you still with this particular position in your article, or have you changed? I want to understand that if you don't mind so I'm just gonna read an excerpt if you don't mind. So as a man there would points out this usually comes from comes up specifically regarding Coalition's that involve groups that also support LGBT causes that orthodox Muslims find objectionable objectionable.
While some may distinguish the political from the religious, to ask Muslims to champion any right or cause politically, that is in direct violation of divine revelation is unfair, unnecessary, and spiritually detrimental. Instead, Muslims should champion just causes that are of benefit to all people rather than specific causes that may compromise their faith. This model proposed by a member would also gives room for Muslims to not be putting in the position of being expected to support every cause of groups that support us. And in fact, find room to express opposition when necessary. shakaama what I'm reading in this article is physically has this always been your position? Like are
you still on that position? Or has your has your experience changed your ideas? And there's a reason I'm gonna ask that but I'll ask you later. Sure. So, yes, you know, I, I'll take my oath and say, I swear by Allah that that has always been my position, through public and private engagements, through different administrations through different trends in different issues.
This has always been my position on the matter.
That, as Muslims, we start from the place of Okay, here's Helen. And here's how long, right? And so what what is Helen and what is haram is very clear now, when it comes to what we can champion, and hear in the specific area of the arena of LGBT, where I think shift that would lead who by the way, you know, his writing of towards sacred activism. This is like an elaboration of sorts on his writing already, because we need to sort of build on that Muslim scholars that do engage these places, or Muslim students with knobs that do engage these spaces and are trying to give, you know, some direction in that regard. What I think his his statement, or his idea here of coalition
building gives us is that look, when we champion general rights of just causes, then that is to the benefit of all people. For example, here in Dallas, we do every year, the homelessness counts, where it's a very powerful experience, we go out and we count the homeless, literally find them in garages on street corners, places where they populate even one or two people that are sort of away from everyone else, because they feel threatened. We surveyed them, we get everything about them write all their information, so that we can then feed that to organizations that either advocate for better policies for the homeless or relief organizations, right? I'm not asking the person that I am
serving in that regard, about anything in regards to their morality, their worldview, their religion, right. Homelessness is part and parcel of the deen. So that's a righteous cause, and everyone who then falls in the category of the affected, right, I'm going to advocate for them in regards to that issue. The same thing is true, for example, with police brutality, right, if someone is killed by the police unjustly, I'm not going to interrogate that person's worldview or, or their life outside of the police shooting where there was excessive force to then say that there's a problem with the way that policing functions in this country, right. So those are general issues,
you know, or specific issues at rather, for everyone that would be affected by those issues. However, what ends up happening is that Muslims, faithful people are sometimes told that
you cannot be productive, and you cannot participate in the arena of justice unless you champion certain rights or certain issues that are in direct contradiction with your framework with your dean. And that, I think, is a false dichotomy. I think it's a choice that Muslims should not be forced to make. It's spiritually detrimental. I tend not advocate for something politically, culturally, socially, that is an opposition to the beam, I can't do that. That's, that would ruin my aka Why would I involve myself in something in the name of Islam that would ruin my Islam and ruin my life, you know, so, I should not be given that, that type of a choice to make instead I will work
for the issues that are of concern to me, in accordance with my Deen and the people that also might work on those issues, I might oppose them on some of those other specific causes, I might actually be on the other side of the table on some of those specific causes. Also out of a feeling of obligation to my Dean. So I think that's the healthy sort of balance here, which is do Muslims shy away altogether? Because they'll end up having to take on causes LGBT causes or otherwise that are in contradiction to their Deen or do Muslims work with where they can work and work with the spirit of the of the Prophet slice of the the energy of the profit slice and um, the the framework of the
profit slice on the Hadith of the Prophet slice and all of that on the issues that are of concern to us and do such a good job at it? Right, that that essentially busies us and becomes our concern. And let that be the light on our, our, you know, our way of what the prophets lie Some said on a suffer that if I was to tell you there was something on the other side that was coming to harm, you'd Believe me because I'm always there for you. Right? So we act out of concern for people's Deen and dunya and we don't violate our own Deen in working to establish the welfare of other people in their Deen or in their dunya I appreciate shahadat, you being unequivocal and very clear, so thank you.
Why is it then then that people get that impression that actually your position is quite different? There are trolls online who you know, shout from the rooftops that actually that is not your position. And your position is in fact in practice, opposite to what you just said.
Well, first of all, I'm taking an oath bilasa parents I this is my position. So any Muslim who wants to say that I'm lying? That's their their claim to that right. So this is always been my position.
Now as for what you said, Why might some get another impression? First of all, I it's not for me to
Assume the intentions of a person that is criticize. I think some people sincerely criticize me, I really do believe that that some people come out against me for what they think is my position because of something they've come across a video or an image or words that are widely taken out of context. And that's why they feel like they have to sort of take me on and warn against me and things of that. So I understand that and May Allah subhanho reward them for the best of their intentions and forgive them for their misconceptions and forgive them for what they they wrongly assume of me and wrongly attribute to me when when I clearly don't attribute those things, those
things to myself, you know, the mama shall forget him Allah. He taught us something very powerful when someone came to him and the most of them attacked him and said, Mr. Shafi, are you a chef? Or he said yes, he said, Nick ephedrine facet, he didn't you know, he clearly heard things that made him assume that you mama Shafi and I'm not even Michelle fried, or him alone be clear, I'm not putting myself in that category. But he clearly heard things that made him assume certain things about Mr. Shafi and I remember shaeffer he simply said Allah encounter slaw, the icon for federally what how many were to value, all life, he's telling the truth and forgive me and have mercy upon me
and accept my repentance will encounter later that it can if you other than that fella who were humble to God, he then forgive him and have mercy on him and accept his repentance. So sometimes people will sort of criticize me for positions that are not actually mine and attribute those to me because of things that they see or things that they hear that are wildly out of context. And by the way, I just got finished teaching on Auburn football, the line, right. And I said one of the key distinctions of almost all the law, I know, in his initial opposition to the profit slice alum from Georgia who was the owner of the law, and who thought that the profit slice on them was dividing
families, he bought the propaganda, right? And what that means is that sometimes as Muslims along liquidity, call me for no, no, you're alone, oh, Allah forgive my people. They don't know any better. If non Muslims are reading, you know, we have fox news in the States. I'm not sure what you have in Australia. But if they're reading that stuff, and tape and looking at the clips, and the images and the words that are clipped out of context about Muslims, right, they think we all belong to the secret terror cells that are out there to harm them. Right. Like, because it's very, you know, it's very convincing. So, you know, May Allah forgive anyone that wrongly assumes things I
mean, attributes things to me that I don't attribute to myself. However, I will say that, you know, when it comes to those clips, like for example,
the there was the rally.
So, for example, there was over five years ago, actually, before you even started,
there was the, the murder of innocent people in Orlando, Florida pulse, LGBT nightclub, right. And at that time, you know, it was done by a Muslim, supposedly, who did it in the name of ISIS in the name of Islam. There were vigils, and press conferences and statements across the country. And, you know, I remember I went to, you know, press conference at the time. And, you know, I read a statement that was written by a multifaith coalition fake for Dallas that I'm a part of, or, you know, at that time, was at least a part of and co chair of at the time, and it was a statement that was put together by the group, right? So someone takes that clip years later, and then assigns
general generality to it right? Then that can that can make someone think that, you know, I hold certain things that I don't hold, or, for example, you see the migrant, the border protest,
you know, someone might see those things, see some of the things that other people were wearing, see some of the things that other people represent right in that and they could assume certain things and so
I understand and May Allah forgive? May Allah forgive us all? May Allah forgive us for the times that we are not clear enough? And May Allah forgive others for the times that they assume things of us that are not true of us? But no, I am. 100% unequivocal. And
it starts from the position of the Quran and the Sunnah, in this relationship in regards to everything else, and we can never undermine the Quran and the Sunnah. And I've clarified, so you know, and that time as well, by the way, there was an article that was written. And it was it was really disappointing, right? Because it was like, I was interviewed on the phone for over an hour and a half. And I never seem to learn my lesson with journalists. And then it was summarized into five paragraphs, and it was like, Wait, what? And it totally departed from the the phone call and I issued a clarification on Islam's position, what I meant, what the article got wrong. And it is what
it is the article still up there. So if someone comes across the article now, right, they might assume that those are my words, and I clearly say they're not my words.
Because they were summarized in a certain way. So I say this, that it's important for us. To be clear. I take this a few Mohammed and I pray that Allah subhanaw taala makes me truthful in this regard. That nothing comes your way except
That it is a means of potential means of purification. So if someone criticizes you from a destructive place to hurt you, if someone slanders you, then that's fodder to innovate in the night. And that's a form of purification of sins. May Allah subhanaw taala allowed to receive it that way. And if someone gives you well rounded criticism, bounce criticism, that's also a way to reevaluate your thoughts and to reevaluate your thinking and to be clear and to be more judicious maybe of your activism. So that's also a form of purifying your work. And at the end of the day, it's important for us what's going on literally, what tequila, a dino nasiha we give advice to each other sincere
advice to each other, we want to better one another. You know, some people have attributed positions to me another reason is because guilt by association, right? So you were in this event with this person, you know, this organization called you for Philistine and then they invited this person as well. The point is, is that Edina and I'll see how it's upon me to give an Aussie how to those people as well out of wanting well for them that sometimes people make mistakes and they're well meaning people sometimes you know, they they they insist on those mistakes and they and they go down a destructive path May Allah not make us amongst those that insist on our mistakes and go down a
destructive path when instead that right there course so we keep on getting better and better inshallah tada and trying to better one another, by giving sincere advice to each other on a consistent basis. And may Allah subhanaw taala allow us to be fair with one another and wish Well for one another and to and to grow together, but in the nights out in the way that's best for the community. I mean, just like Shama, we're gonna change gears a little bit and talk about another issue that I feel is potentially a gray area.
Activism within government spaces. You You gave a prayer in Congress, and honestly, I, I felt a little bit uncomfortable with that, me as a follower of your work. And I'll tell you why. On one side, it was good like that you're actually, you know, a Muslim is within that space, and just as she presence is positive, but I feel on the other side that having a seat at the table where the table is hostile towards our issues. It's almost like legitimizing the table and legitimizing the people that exists on that table.
How would you respond to that?
Zach aloka, thank you for bringing it up. So honestly, and candidly,
you never told me you were uncomfortable with it before? So I'll let it go. That you decided to do this on a podcast now. But look,
first of all, we can disagree on these things. Sometimes it's okay. And in fact, I do sure I try to consult I try to figure out in some of these situations, whether it's it's best or not. So before I answer your direct question on the Congress thing to say, for example, you know, one of the big discussions here is like the White House of thoughts. So I boycotted, the White House of thought is under the Obama days, actually, because of as I was getting bombed 2014 I didn't go.
But then I also tried to, you know, say like, maybe there are some people that are going that are going to directly challenge them, right? my grief would be or my gripe would be with those that go in that don't directly challenge him, and then make it a point to say that they challenged him because in the midst of as they're getting bombed, it has to be challenged, right. So Lisa said that not everyone should be judged in the same way in that situation. However, I felt like it was from my particular position, I was like, you know, let's make a statement and say, we're not going to go. So I've actually never been inside the White House, for example, right? I've been out. I gave a whole
talk about outside the White House, on the White House lawn, which was interesting, after Trump announced the embassy move to to Jerusalem. And it was very cold. So I remember that hotel because I was freezing. While I was giving the hope. I don't remember anything. I said, I just remember that I was really cold while I was getting a hold of outside on the White House lawn. Then there was again, once again, prior to being even coming into existence, there was the time with me where,
I ended up giving an invocation on stage and on the stage where Obama, Bush and Biden's are now a third US president that was on the stage at the time, as well as Ted Cruz and who hates my guts. And who always makes it a point to portray me as some sort of like, secret terrorist that's trying to,
you know, undo society altogether. So he's not he hasn't been the nicest person in the world to put it that way. He ends up on stage so that that that incident, and what that was, was that we had a protest here in Dallas, in the wake of the murders, the police murders of Alton Sterling, Capella, who was who was murdered in Baton Rouge, feet away from where my mother is buried alive at home. I like it.
It shook me like till now when I go visit my mother's grave that literally the place that he was shot dead is like across the fence from her grave just so happens. And falando Castillo at the time in Minnesota, shot in his car seven times in front of his baby girl in the backseat four year old daughter in the backseat and horrible, horrible incident. Right? So we had a march in Dallas.
And at the end of that March, so I was I was in that protest, and was one of the people at the front of the protests. And after the protest, a man shot five police officers that he didn't and, you know, he shot dead Subhanallah we have something called dark, which is like the public railway system. Now, I'm not sure if you have the public transportation in Australia, like the subway system, right? So there's like, just imagine, like five security guards getting shot dead. Right, because they're wearing a uniform. And this was a protest against police brutality. So I was asked by the city of Dallas, to give an invocation that this should be a unifying moment where we hold the
the victims of police brutality as well as condemn what just happened, right in a similar space. And we really have to bring the city together because this could really tear us apart. I agree to the invocation. I find out the night before, by the way, all these presidents are coming.
Okay, so I was like, Okay, so the choices then do I withdraw myself? Or do I write my invocation in a way that's not disrespectful to the occasion, but that sort of gives somewhat of a message. Right. So that's what I tried to do. I can totally understand why someone would disagree with me on that. I thought, sure, it was sort of it's a decision I have to make in a few hours.
I pray that it was the right decision. And May Allah forgive me if it was the wrong decision. When it comes to the Congress invocation, you know, who the first person to give invocation Congress was Muslim to give invocation Congress.
You mamsa Raja hatch. So it's kind of legendary, right? And I'm Suraj gave the invocation in Congress. And he told me he sets panela. He said that the attacks that came on him after he gave the invocation in Congress, like everything changed from that day on. And that was the same for me, by the way, like, as soon as I finished giving the invocation in Congress, the attacks that I got, it was like, they're ready to press a button. I mean, it was it was character assassination to the extreme front page of fox news for some time on the TV station. Our friend, Ted Cruz, once again, out there attacking attacking and things of that sort. That was that was a nightmare. Right. But to
go back to your question directly, the invocation of Congress actually came through a local Congress person. So the way that that works is that every Congress person, or at least a group of them have the have the privilege of inviting a faith leader in their district to give the invocation. Okay, so my Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who I actually had worked with, to be the first co sponsor of or to be the CO sponsor of the first bill for Palestinian rights ever legislated in Congress, which is called the mccullom bill against the detainment of Palestinian children. So she's a co sponsor of that bill. And someone that, you know, I've worked with on numerous issues, right, so she
invited me because I had just gotten back from Christchurch, New Zealand, after the attack, the terrorist attack and in Christchurch in New Zealand, she invited me to give a prayer specifically about the innocent and about worshipers and so you'll even hear that tone right about it. This was on the heels of the the synagogue shooting in Philadelphia, and then Christchurch, New Zealand, where the show had that we had over many people, by the way from Australia came Shadi happy the whole lot, many other people, Sheffield, Abraham, some people that are beloved to you and me came to New Zealand at the time. So she had told me right after that, she said, By the way, I expedited the
invitation because I want you to sort of come in and give an invocation right after coming back from Christchurch, New Zealand. So I took that opportunity. Again, I can totally see, like, I understand, like, do you do you take that opportunity or not? You gotta understand that.
You know, like, I go back to the invocation that I gave
where the presidents were on stage.
You know, George Bush in particular like has harmed my own family like my extended family deeply right people that are very beloved to me, we're in the city of Dallas, where the Holy Land Foundation, the HLF five, who are like family to me were were unjustly put in prison at the request of Ariel Sharon and one of the worst civil rights abuses in history, right. Like, it's not easy, the fun of it's not English.
It is not easy and making a prayer in Congress. Like Was it worth it? Honestly? Yeah, I hope so. And Charlottetown
I hope that it was still an opportunity to put out a positive message in sha Allah tada and to, to have some things that were challenging to what they stood for embedded within the invocations.
But I think that those are those are judgment calls. And even with myself, I could argue both ways. And I appreciate the conversation that you and I are having right now. Right? Is it worth it? Is it not worth it is, is this is this summary of 1012 conversations I had before each of those engagements with teachers and people I respect
before I made my judgment call. And by the way, I've turned down a lot of things that I don't care usually to publicize like, for example, the Democratic National Convention turned it down. This year, in fact, this past time around, but then I did do the Texas Democratic Convention, I gave the invocation of the Texas Democratic Convention, because that was at the height of the the children being put in cages. And I made it a point to mention get mo at that time, and to talk about moral consistency and the children around the world who don't deserve to be killed under American bombs or put in American cages. So I use the opportunity because I thought that it was it was the right time
to do so. And again, why did you Why did you turn this one down? Why did you turn the DNC? I think right now, I mean, and this is part of sort of
evaluating, as time goes on.
Right now, the I'm very, like allergic to partisan spaces, with the democratic party at this point, you know, and
there are certain things like local local things that I might do in terms of like, Come give the invocation, come share a few words, and always try to push it a bit. With what I say,
you know, and my whole thing, my main hedge, if you will, my methodology in this regard, is that if you go to a space, challenge them on their own, suppose it principles, so if you're with,
people that are
progressives, right and claim to be progressives, why are they progressive on everything but Palestine? So push them on Palestine, push them on getting more push them on the things like in accordance with the things that you claim to stand for? Why are you excluding Muslims? And why are you excluding people in this regard? And then if I'm in a more republican space, and
where people are conservatives, then I will push them on why their religious freedom claims seem to include everyone but Muslims, you know, so I'll push them hard on those things about how are you on the one hand claiming, you know, to be persecuted for your religion, but on the other hand, before persecuting religious minorities, you know, in this country, right, so pushing them on there and consistencies is something that's important there. But it changes from place to place. So Shama? What is what is your advice for someone in this space? You know, it is it is murky waters in some areas. It's, it's very clean others, but what is your advice in general, someone who's involved on
the frontlines of of these issues?
Yeah, so does that qualify? The first thing I'd say is that the mercury is placed can be your heart, purify your intentions before everything else. Everything that you do should be for the sake of Allah subhanho wa Taala. And if you're doing it for the sake of Allah, then you're trying as much as you can, to do it in a way that's in accordance with the way of the messenger sallallahu alayhi wasallam. So purify your intentions. That's number one. Number two,
when you are advised, or when you face difficulties along the way, as you are doing this type of work. Ask how you can use that as a means of getting close to Allah. You know, one of the things that I often hear from people, you know, I'm tired, working with Muslims, it's hard. This is thankless work, you try to do the right thing, and people just beat you up for it. It's like the person that becomes a board member of a Masjid and then never wants to set foot in the masjid again, after they finish their term, or becomes a volunteer in the masjid or volunteer in some courts and I think have a heavy from the profit slice. I'm Ella Do you Holly to nasware Hospital, title minella
de la harlington. So they must be the one who mixes with the people and tolerates the hardship and the process is better than the one who isolates himself from the people and does not tolerate their hardships. So one of the ways that Allah is going to test you and your intention is that you're going to face difficulties trying to do good work. And you have to take that as a means of getting you closer to Allah that Allah is making, making use or that it's only for his sake, and he's putting you through that test for that reason. And so,
you know, when someone says, I'm not doing this anymore, because I'm sick of people, what were you doing it for people in the first place, so Let not your heart be murky. Let your
intention to be purified, always take the hardship that comes along the way and grow, grow, grow, grow, listen to people listen to not see how, you know, we talked, you gave me know see how in the course of this podcast whether you intended it that way or not, there is always something to consider, even when someone is giving you advice or giving you, you know, critique in bad faith or if they're doing it in a very harsh way, you know, none of those I owe him Allah to Allah. He talks about this idea of listening even to your enemies if they say something about you, that might be true of you then consider it because you know, if it's true, then you want to disconnect yourself
from it. So consider what is said to you seek out advice, seek out mentorship. Constantly listen to your brothers and sisters and try to get better try to make sure that your work is more pleasing to Allah subhana wa tada as you go along the way. So humility is so important in this in this regard. So stay humble, and Allah will humble you along the process. stay humble. Accept that and stay humble and Charlottetown and try to get better is that
I'm going to ask you one final question. Just bear with me here. My my niece, nine year old niece who pops up in every doubletake episode.
She has a great uncle, who basically has shared with her the importance of activism fine. We get that we get that, you know, it's it's actually a Muslim thing.
What advice would you have for her, she's nine, nine years old, she's about to embark on this kind of space. This activism space, and the causes that are gonna pop up in her time saying 510 15 years time are probably even more, some of them are going to be more challenging than than the ones we're facing. Now. What is your advice to my nine year old niece, who is about to embark on her journey of protecting her faith
and also getting involved in social justice issues? So I guess my conversation with your nine year old niece would look a lot like my conversation with my 11 year old daughter, whose father is not as great as your nieces uncle, Mashallah. I would I would say to her, to first and foremost, always put her Dean first. Put her team first and never relinquish her deem that her greatest activism is insisting upon her existence or her Deen and not letting anyone take that away from her. And then I would say to her that when you see someone that is being mistreated, when you see someone that is being harmed,
you know, when you when you see someone that is poor, when you see someone that is oppressed, when you see the homeless person on the corner of the street, when you see your Muslim brother or sister on TV, or through your screen that is living in absolute misery that you have a responsibility to those people that you don't, you don't just look away that your deen does not allow you to just say, Oh, well, you know, they live in there. They live in Iraq or Afghanistan or Philistine and I live here or, you know, or that person is poor and I'm not poor, so Oh, well, I feel sorry for that person. Yeah, hold on. No, like, like you have to. You have to feel an obligation towards those
people that are being oppressed and that are in poverty. And that's part of your deen as well. shahana Thank you so much for joining doubletake for those who are interested in the article by Shahar it's on yaqeen institute.org I'm sure it's pinned right to the top I'm just joking. But feel free to reach out homers work on European Institute dogs like locker. locker. Thank you for putting in the hot seat my tears burning now.
I mean a lot for the holidays. We're about to do a hot seat now. Which is rapid fire. Are you ready for I thought hot seat was I thought it was over? I thought you already got. Alright. Let's go rapid fire. All right, sure, Hamada. We're gonna ask you a set of a few questions. You've only got 10 seconds to answer them.
The first one is your favorite corner of the Quran. Your favorite recite my favorite recite over the Quran easily. Madden Morricone. I absolutely love praying behind him. And I prayed behind them in a harem for the first time in hajj
seven years ago, and I fell in love with him. He was reading sweated wipr. And so I even tried to imitate him with my recitation. I do a very poor job, but I absolutely love his recitation, Chef Matt and Mike and
we're gonna have to get a recording of your citation.
All right, sure. harmar If there was one person who has passed away,
and he can't be the processor, and you'd love to have dinner with them and sit there and have a robot
discussion with them who would it be?
So this is someone that I did not already know. Right? So someone that along the way, right, someone who it could be from history Yeah.
I would I would say that that would
probably be it's not an iPhone will be alone I know I love this model the alone I absolutely love earth model the alone time
and it's actually my first Holocaust my first Holocaust in my life was about as normal the law and because I felt like he was so wrong like you know in the capacity of this discussion of activism he did so much for the oma but it's like a little bucket or the law and more on the law and when I read all the law I know it's like Earth model the law gets out shines. And I think that's part of how Allah subhanaw taala made his his work so pure is that everything he did for the oma and he he was so wronged
prohibited from the same things that he did for the sake of Allah for the oma and that's why the prophets lie some such that I not be shy from a person that even the angels are shy from stuff the profit slice on would sit up in the presence of a lot of time I know I would love to meet with nominal the law I know and sit with him and just tell them like I appreciate you Zack level height. I appreciate you for all that you did for the oma what what's the question you'd ask him?
I'd asked him for advice.
asking for advice on how to deal with with slander, because he was he was slandered so much, you know, some some handle on this is something that
when people say things of us that are untrue, it hurts us, you know, it does hurt us. We're human beings. And especially when those things are not true of us, right. And whether it's normal the longtime whole, the way that the slanders about earth model the law and has spread and he was accused of things that stood in complete opposite of everything that he had done right. nepotism, accused of
money, misappropriating money, and he's, you know, what does he say? Like I was the one that expanded them, I financed the expansion of the profits license method, like I was the one when they prohibited for him from drinking from the same wells that he purchased the submitted law.
So I would ask him for advice, like, what would you say to someone who deals who has dealt with just a tiny portion of what you have dealt with? And who has done a tiny portion of what you have done? If I would ask him for an OC, for advice for his little brother.
Like, yeah, it's not new. You dealt with so much, you know, in that regard, like what would you give? What would you advise me in this regard? And sure, how might if there was someone who is alive? Who you would like to have dinner with? Who would that be?
Actually, Chef, Australia? Oh, really? Why? I mean, his hometown by the way. I love chef Medan. I can't believe I never met him. I love shows upon I my kids listen to him
all the time. That's one let him know and I heard his voice all the time. But But I'll tell you that when I saw the interview, because I connected with Jeff but I recently and I hope you won't mind me mentioning this inshallah he won't.
They heard the interview about the death of his of his son, Matata, and the pain and the way he just explained his his trial and tribulation in that regard. And
that, that interview, it wasn't Australian interviewer By the way, I don't remember the platform, but it was viral. And I actually asked shiksha de for his number. And I reached out to him and we connected and I told Jeff but I said the first and so now he's gonna hold me to it.
And so I'll be in Australia soon and so let me put it to you that way because I told him I said as soon as COVID is over, like I really want to come see you because like I absolutely love that man. Like you know why did you know them agenda the souls are like conscripted soldiers. Like I feel like my love that I have for him is like a brother that I've known my entire life. Like I love that man. And somehow I never got to sit with him in person. So
yeah, so when you see him, give him a hug for me.
And tell him tell him that I love him for the sake of Allah. He knows that as we've been in contact, and shall Watch out i hope that i hope that we'll be able to connect soon via the night on inshallah, I'll drive you from the airport. Three last question after this after this interview. I'm not talking to you. I honestly don't want to hang out with you.
Three last questions. Your favorite
I love like omelets, veggie egg white omelets, like just omelets and hashbrowns. I mean it's very American right but
you know if I get into the, to the to the Arabic foods I'd say it's Baba newage good Baba nuages is pretty is pretty awesome. You know like when when you're in when you're when you're in the Arab world and you know, when I go to Jordan all the time, just kind of go go around the corner and get some fresh food afterwards to dip in some homeless and some level of knowledge.
That's that's pretty, that's pretty good. And the last book that you read,
spin up another plug, surely? No, no, no, this is not my plug. It's actually
I was actually showing us some of the people yesterday.
This is a book by Dr. Hatem busia, called erasing the human collapse of the post colonial world and the refugee immigration crisis. Very good book by Dr. Hatton. Busy on. And final question. If I was to say, an embarrassing mustard moment, and I'm sure you've had many moments in general, but any embarrassing Masjid moment? What does that look like in the life of Shama?
Where do I start?
I'll just share with you the first one that comes. And it wasn't, it was I was getting cold, but in my old message in the New Orleans,
you know, the so the women's section is above the main sections, like a mezzanine. Right? So if a woman is at the front of the woman section, she's like, almost right above the member, okay.
the phone rang while I was getting caught up. And it rang for a while.
I said, brothers and sisters, if you can, please put your phones on silent.
She was an older lady. She answered the phone.
And hello, hello. You know, she just had a full on conversation. And I was I turned red. I was like, I don't know what to do with the situation. So do I, like you know, get get a little harder with her or do I just
let it go. So I decided to just kind of wait for the sisters like you're at some sisters get into like an uproar over it. So that was one. I know you asked for one. But this is not embarrassing. But I'll say one of the most beautiful moments, which is, which was a crazy moment, was in the same Masjid. There was a man that walked in with a military uniform Keith, I put a picture of him one time online. I tell a story properly one day, but Keith was a soldier, he walked in with his full uniform and his guns. And everybody ran away. And I just kind of froze up and I was sitting and I was leaning on the member and I looked at him and I was just like a shadow in the hole. I wish I
didn't know Mohammed also, like I was sure he was about to kill me. Instead, he took me he said, I need to talk to somebody we spoke on the site. He had just come back from Iraq. And he said, what those people had, what those people had, I want that beautiful. He said, I need to know your religion, your faith what those people had, I want and I just got back. And so
he actually took she has like a full uniform and everything. He took Shahada that night. And when the people so this is the funny part of it, when someone takes Shahada, what does everyone do?
What did they do?
And he like, you know, like, he was about to like start.
And so I said, well, calm down. I was like, you know, relax, and that's how we congratulate and he cried. And he said to me on my shoulder, he said, he said, when when we used to hear that Natok that met and run in Iraq more precisely that run and he said, Now God is calling me to him with those words. So that's a beautiful moment.
Shahada thank you so much for your time and inshallah we'll do another episode very, very, very soon. barnacle Exactly. What has a pleasure