Islam – Lex Fridman 2
Channel: Omar Suleiman
File Size: 55.15MB
it's not nice. It's not great. I mean, it's,
it's definitely a challenge. But, look, there are challenges that we face as Muslims.
Being in the United States being in a hostile climate, there are different types of challenges. And
I think what we've had to do as a Muslim community is see beyond both the guns and the roses, and think about who we are first. Because, frankly,
Islamophobia exists in different forums and from different sides. And we try to use this as an opportunity to instill in our young people, not just the sense of belonging, but a sense of purpose.
Do not be intimidated.
And, in fact, show them the best of your Islam live your life, because at the end of the day,
the goal that is sought through intimidation is silence. And so we have to carry ourselves as proud American Muslims, we don't have to impress anyone. And we don't need to relinquish an iota of our faith, to coexist with anyone. We are satisfied with who we are, we don't we don't see a contradiction between our place of residence and our religion, or nationality or religion, we don't see that as a problem, right? So that's a, that's something for them to work out not for you to work out. That's what I would tell young Muslims that continue to live your faith fully, and demonstrate the beauty of it. And do not let the ugliness of the world consume you.
But for those young Muslims, what would you say how they should feel towards the people that hate them?
The natural human, there's a desire still to have anger to have a resentment of hate back at the people that hate you. The Quran says respond to that which is evil without which is better. And you will find that sometimes your enemy will become your close friend. So respond with that which is better, doesn't mean be passive. Sometimes, there needs to be a demonstration of strength. Sometimes there needs to be a demonstration of
ignoring people altogether. But ultimately, you can't let the way people treat you shape who you're going to be in the world. And so that's why I say we have to look beyond the guns on the roads, we have to look beyond the hostility of our enemies, and the temporary and opportunistic embrace of some of those claims to be our allies. And be us and treat the world and treat the people of this world in accordance with your standards, not with theirs. So don't teach them you know, or don't let them teach you bad character, you teach them good character. So live your life and live your faith beautifully. And let people see the beauty of it through your through your being and do not let
their ugliness consume you. But at the same time, sometimes you gotta give people room to express frustration to say that this is unacceptable to have demonstrations of strength.
And I think that those things don't have to all contradict each other. There, what do you think about these kinds of protests are not allowed in many parts of the world? What do you think about one of the most you directly personally painful manifestations of the First Amendment of the people's right to freedom of speech into protests, to say hateful things? You've been at the receiving end of the worst of it? What what what do you feel about this particular freedom, that that's at the core of the founding of this country? Look, I think that you have to take it away from the text and look at it within reality. Let's be real. Would Muslims be able to protest in front of
churches with guns on a weekly basis in this country? I don't think so. So
pragmatically speaking, there's a hypocrisy to one major hypocrisy, major hypocrisy, see, free speech is an ideal that is weaponized against the Muslim community and against other communities.
In such a hypocritical way. You know, you take for example, some countries in Europe, you know, let's kind of move away from this and look at the hypocrisy of
a place like France, where the caricaturing and the portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him in derogatory ways, will be used as the hallmark of free speech.
Each but Muslims that will caricature Macron or challenge some of the values of France the suppose it and try and values of France will end up in prison and end up deported. And so here in the United States, there's a great hypocrisy. I don't think that
places of worship should have armed protesters in front of them. I think that that poses a security risk, I think that it's not okay.
And I think that free speech is weaponized against the Muslim community, and often is held up as this great value, but really to attain very lowly things. And is often to our detriments.
Yeah, just even watching that documentary.
It's hard to put into words, but somehow that does not capture a word maybe the Founders intended.
What, what I would see is the great idea of the freedom of speech.
I don't know what the solution to that is. I think taking it outside of words, maybe that requires a community a cultural pressure to be better.
So it's not about the law. It's more about just the cultural pressure, what isn't isn't okay. Because there's something deeply wrong about that kind of hate.
Yeah, because it was dehumanizing other people that are here in America, that they're Americans. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's we have to interrogate
the foundations of our country when our country is in such turmoil, and such chaos. No country in the world, has the mass shootings that we have no country in the world has some of the polarization that we have, we have to interrogate that and say what it is that we're doing wrong, that's leading to that.
And I think, again, that it's reaching a point where it's unsustainable.
If we don't do better, and try to solve some of the rifts right now, that exists in our society, then we're going to end up in, you know, in a place where we might we may not be able to climb out of this.
What do you think about? You mentioned the Muslim ban? What do you think about executive order 13 769, titled protecting the nation from foreign terrorists entry into the United States, often referred to as the Muslim ban, or the Trump travel ban? It was an executive order by President Trump that was in effect from January 27 2017. Just a few months until March 6 2017.
What was this executive order? And what was it effect on your life and on the life of the Muslim community and just the life of Americans? Well,
it was disgraceful, it was a tactic that was used,
you know, at the time,
very similar to the whole build the wall rhetoric to play to a particular political, sloganeering and carrying out those types of acts against the Muslim community,
you're not going to face
much opposition, typically in any meaningful way that would that would be politically costly.
When he rolled it out, at the time, there were people in flight on their way to the United States that were held in airports around the country, children, elderly people that were held in the small rooms, and treated awfully before being put back on a plane and center where they were there were families that had medical needs that were never able to come together, he specifically targeted Muslim countries, to play to that idea of a complete ban of Muslims, which he knew was not feasible at the time. Now, personally, you know, Dallas had the the largest amount, the largest number of detainees in the airport, we have one of the largest airports in America, and we took to the
And we stayed there for a few days. stayed overnight. It was one of the New York Times pictures of the air when we did our prayer. Because when we had to do our prayer, it wasn't just Muslims that came to the airport. It was many people that came to the airport of different faiths that were outraged by what they had seen. So when we do our prayer, there was a protest chant that you pray we stay. And so the airport had to make room for us because we're like 1000 people that need to have our five daily prayers. So
Though we would do our prayers in the airport, we waited. We continued until the detainees were freed, at least temporarily. Unfortunately, some elements of that legislation remained and it was It wasn't an ongoing struggle book, but I'll say is that those are some of the more obvious manifestations of anti Muslim bigotry. But, again, there's hypocrisy on all sides of the political aisle here in the United States. There is Islamophobia of different flavors. I think even the term Islamophobia can become contentious, because there are people that attack us in different ways. And that might not be as overtly bigoted, but nonetheless are infringing on our rights to be full
American Muslims. And Muslims find themselves in a very strange political place where you've got one side that seemingly wants to annihilate you. And another side that only accepts you if you're willing to assimilate. But no one really allows you to be a full on American Muslim. And so Muslims find themselves in a very strange place right now, with all of the political science with the political parties. Where do Muslims sit politically? Are they politically engaged
in the function of the United States, where they find themselves politically as a community. So Muslims find themselves in awkward place politically, that's the best way to put it. We are a religious community. And so we don't find ourselves welcomed by the left, which has a hostility towards religion, and most left spaces and most liberal spaces, and in general, because it's a religion has many conservative elements, right? So the Muslim community is in its nature conservative for what that's worth, right. It's a conservative community. It's a community that has certain orthodoxies and practices that would make it disagreeable in his nature and his practice to
many on the left, and many on the right, just see us as a group of foreigners, and a threat in that regard. So
we find ourselves in this awkward place, there's also the presence of sort of the pro Israel, dominance of both parties, the foreign policy of both parties is detrimental to Muslims globally.
The securitisation of the Muslim community, in the name of countering violent extremism, unfortunately, the Muslim community has had both Republican and Democratic administrations just run over its rights. So we find ourselves kind of in this awkward space, right, we are a religious community, that's also a minority, the racialization of the Muslim community, sort of robs us of who we are, and how we get to engage them with different platforms and different peoples around us. So we find ourselves in a very awkward place is there in general, a lack of representation, and places of power? In politics, I think representation is everything, I think that representation can
actually be detrimental sometimes, because you can have people that
represent you, but that don't actually represent your pot, your your priorities as a community as a faith community. So we don't want to be tokenized as a community, right? We want to be engaged and engage fully as Muslims, and be respected as American Muslims. You know, I wrote something at the time, actually, of Muslim ban, I wrote an article for CNN called I Am Not Your American Muslim. I am not your American Muslim.
Because we are not a tool of liberals against conservatives. Nor are we simply to be made out to be your villain or your victim. Were a people of faith.
Were people that have values where people that want to see our places of worship thrive, were people that have something to offer,
to this country to the people around us have have good. But ultimately, we want to engage and be engaged with on the basis of who we actually are not who you need us to be right now. And that's been the problem that we've had. So it's not it's not a lack of representation, as much as a lack of authentic engagement.
daily prayer. And
if I may, looking at the time, this might be time and if it's okay, I would love it if you allow me to follow along, at least in movement, as you pray. Sure. Absolutely. Thank you for allowing me to join you in that.
Can you maybe describe
As the prayer of represent, what's the actual practice of prayer? Like what is the process like? Sure. So prayer is the central pillar, if you will of Islam.
It is the life of the believer encapsulated in to a very specific act of devotion that's done at least five times a day. So there are different types of prayer, there's prayer, there's supplication. So the five daily prayers are called salah, which is the obligatory prayers. And then beyond that, there are voluntary prayers that are done throughout the day, as well. So you can pray before and after the obligatory prayers. And then there are other times of the day that you can pray also, and the best prayer, voluntary prayers at nights in the middle of the night, because the time that you're closest to God,
sincere, away from the eyes of people,
just in the middle of the night, and you'd pray in a similar way with the standing in the bowing the prostration, reciting the Quran. And then you have supplication and words of remembrance that you are to do throughout the day.
Between all of that, so when people say Do you pray five times a day? I say at least five times a day? What are the words is application? Does it come from the Quran? Or do they come from your heart? Or do they where do they come from? So basically, you say, Allahu Akbar,
which means I'm going to kill you, right?
Or so they say,
God is greater. You start off with that an expression of God's greatness, and then you recite the opening chapter of the Quran, which is known as Al Fatiha, it's the first chapter of the Quran. In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful All praises be to God, the Lord of all the world's most compassionate, Most Merciful Master of the Day of Judgment. You alone, we worship and from you alone, we seek help guide us to the straight path, the path of those who have earned your favor, not those who have earned your wrath nor those who have gone astray. So that's a translation of the first chapter the opening chapter of the Quran, which is known as it Fatiha so
your sight that in every one of the units of prayer
and then after that, we recite something else from the Quran. So some other portion of the Quran and then we say Allahu Akbar, once again, God is greater we go into bowing and in bowing we say Subhana, labia, alim, Subhan, Allah, Allah subhana, labia alim, which means, glory be to God, the Almighty Glory be to God the Almighty, glory be to God, the Almighty, and then you come back up, and you say, semi Allah, Hanuman Hamidah, God has heard the one who has praised him. And then the response is Robina, Allah can hunt and to you, oh, Lord belongs all praise. And then we go into prostration. And prostration is at the heart of the prayer. And it is the most beautiful portion of the prayer, and
it is the most beloved position for a servant of God and that which is most pleasing to God. It's when you say at that point, Subhan, Allah, Allah, Allah, all glory be to God the Most High, All glory be to God the Most High. So while you put yourself in the lowest position, you acknowledge God being the most high, and the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him said that the closest that a person is to God is when they are in prostration. That is the time that your supplications are most precious, and beloved, that is the time that you can cry your heart out, that is the time that you really feel a sense of great closeness and devotion to God. And as I was telling you earlier, the
time that your your mind is under your heart for a change, right, the only position physical position, that your mind is actually under your heart. And you really have a chance to pour your emotions out, and to connect deeply to God. It's the prayer of all of the prophets, Jesus peace be upon him as described, even biblically as falling on his face and prayer. And so it really is, I think, the most intimate moment that you get with God. And the deepest part of the prayer, the word masjid, which is mosque in Arabic means place of Sudduth place of prostration. So think of the rest of prayer as an introduction to that particular part of the prayer where you really immerse
yourself, not that you shouldn't be immersed in your prayer throughout. But when you're in solitude when you're in frustration, that's where you're really closest and most connected to God. So we do that. And so some prayers are two units.
Well, the first prayer of the day, which is before sunrise, the earliest prayer is two units.
The second prayer, which is around noon, is four units, and then afternoon, another four units, and then the sunset prayer is three units, and then the evening prayers for units. So each prayer has a different number of units to it, and some voluntary prayers that surround it. When you come back up, you express also
as a form of greeting towards God, and channeling your prayers, and your blessings towards God, you reiterate the shahada, which is the first pillar of Islam, I testify that there is only one God, and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger. And then you read what's called Salah Ibrahim iya, which is the Abrahamic prayer. So you send peace and blessings upon Muhammad and his family and Abraham and his family.
Abraham peace be upon him is really at the core of this religion. And so, at the prayer, the end of the prayer, you you send peace and blessings and prayers upon again, both Muhammad and his family and Abraham and his family. And then you have another chance to make some of your own personal prayers. And then you say, a Sadam on ECAM. What happened to Allah, peace beyond to you in the mercy of God, to your right, peace beyond to you in the mercy of God to your left, and that means everything and everyone to your right, everyone and everything to your left. So you imagine a congregation.
When you're in worship, right? You're, you're sending that to the angels and the human beings next to your fellow worshipers next to you.
And you'll even say you'll seek forgiveness from God afterwards, there's supplications that surround the prayer.
And you will say Allah and to salaam Inca salaam, that oh O Allah, Oh, God, you are peace and from us peace, and to you belongs our glory, and all praise, almost to say that you received something in this prayer that you receive a great sense of inner peace. And now you're spreading that right. So as it really comes in to you then you can give, you can give to the world around you what you generate in your own heart. And in prayer, you generate a great sense of tranquility, a great sense of peace. The Quran says Verily, in the remembrance of God, do hearts find contentment. And prayer is an exercise in the remembrance of God.
That is, again, obligatory five times a day, no matter where you are. So anywhere in the world, anywhere you find yourself in your life in different life circumstances anywhere. Yeah, so coffee shop and the grass outside.
Did a few days ago, yeah. So anywhere at all. And that means reports included, given the context of our previous conversation of
hatred towards people of Muslim faith. That means you probably through the practice of prayer, it attracts people that hate attracted curiosity, hate, I've had people walk up to me like, Hey, man, you're okay, you know, in the herbs, everything. So most part of these conversations of curiosity and the opportunity to actually
talk about the values that Europe's and I try to make it a point to tell people if I'm about to pray in front of them. So like in an airport, let's say, for example, go to the corner, next to a gate. And if there are people sitting there, like, Hey, I'm about to engage in a prayer, hope you don't mind, they'll really appreciate the courtesy most of the time.
But no, I mean, any, when those five times come in, and the kind of windows right,
we have to pray. And
that means at work, that means at school, that means when you're when you're traveling, although there's some concessions that allow you to combine prayers at certain times when you're traveling, for example. But even then, you're gonna have to pray. And
I think that
what that does, to
bring you back to God,
no matter what you're doing, it's actually, you know, you think of it this way, you're in a meeting, you're engaged in something you're really stressed out. And you also have the ablution before the prayer where you wash up, wash your face, wash your lamps, and engage in prayer, what it does for you, and anchoring you in something more meaningful. When you are in the turmoil of a lot of times what's not so meaningful,
is incredible. And so it's a gift from God. And it is an obligation. It's something that we have to do as muslims. But if you actually learn its essence, then it can feel more like a joy than it is an obligation. And then your call to at night, especially again, the night prayer is a big part of who we are as Muslims waking up in the last part of the night. The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said that the best prayer and the best fasting was that of David peace be upon him. So we think of David, Prophet David, he's a prophet and Islam as well. I'm sure you'll ask me a lot about the whole concept of Prophethood you're hearing Abraham and David and others right. So David, peace be upon
him. He said that David used to fast every other day. And he used to pray the last third of the night. He'd stand up and pray in the last third of the night. So fasting is a big part of who we are. And praying in the last third of the night. Meeting before that early morning.
In prayer, you know waking up if you can afford, am 4:30am 5am.
and praying even for a few minutes,
there's something in the serenity of the night that can unlock in you a sense of inner joy and peace that nothing else in the world can give you. And again, that pulls you away from all the turmoil of day to day life.
If it's the little things, or if it's big things, it just pulls it pulls you out of it, and remember what is more important than life? So when we think about access,
in the last third of the night, we're taught that God says, Is there anyone seeking forgiveness that I may forgive them? Is there anyone seeking refuge that I may grant it to them? Is there anyone asking for anything, that I may give it to them? So whatever you're calling upon him with at that time, he's responding to you, in a way that befits him. And so it's closeness as well. And you would think that you sleep less, so you're probably more cranky, but
the happiest people in the world are the people that stand up in that last third of the night and pray. I mean, this is a deeply meditative, contemplative aspect to it that I think
probably strengthens your sleep, if anything else wants to return to it. There you go. So you people underestimate that there was a great sage in Islam, he was asked, he said, How come the people who pray at night are the most beautiful of people, and they're, they're fresh in the day, it doesn't make sense. And he said, because they secluded themselves with the most merciful, and He dressed them in his light. And so there's a there's a, there's a beauty that generates.
And that's why we're to aspire to that. Really, as believers, that's kind of your highest thing. Like, don't just pray the five prayers, if you can pray at night, pray at night. I've connected that Well, a good friend of mine, Andrew Huberman, who's a neuroscientist from Stanford, he's a big, he's upset. He has a amazing podcast called human lab. But he's also a scholar of sleep, among many other things, and so I would love him to he probably knows the science on this too.
There's probably good science that actually studies practicing Muslims to see what
the benefits of sleep I would love to actually see what that says, We have amazing I don't want to cut you off yet we have amazing hygiene because of how much we have to wash up for.
And it's great for our limbs as well. Right?
You know, and that's one of the added benefits, right? It's good for us. Worship that we do is not torturous, it's actually good for us. However, the core objective of worship has to remain, that it's something you do out of worship and something you do out of an object, a sense of obligation, gratitude to God, not because of those things, like I'm not going to fast because it's good for my health. But I know it's good for my health to fast. But it's pretty cool. When you walk into I'll share this with you there was a man, he was a scholar from Turkey and Islamic scholar from Turkey. And he had visited us in Dallas and he was 108 years old. And he could still pray, bowing and
prostrating. I mean his limbs and you think about that, like someone at that age still being able to do that. So sure it's good for your limbs, good for your health, good for your gut, good for your sleep good for your mind. I think the mind one is the really one we've been talking about. And that's really, really the really the big one. And in the small day to day psychological sense in the big philosophical sense of what it means to be a human being. We should also mention that during the prayer, as you've explained, you should face Mecca.
So what is Mecca? And what's the experience of visiting Mecca like so mcuh is the home that Abraham peace be upon him, built along with his son, Ishmael peace be upon him. And it gives the Muslims a unified direction of prayer. It's sort of at the center geographically
of who we are.
And when we pray towards it,
it's not that it's not that that's the only place that you can supplicate turn towards but it gives us a unified sense of direction, it gives us a unified sense of prayer.
so mcuh is our Qibla. It's our place of direction, when we are alive and when we are dead. So actually, we pray facing towards it, when we die, we are also faced towards it in our graves. And it kind of gives us that unifying spirit. So this is
the value of Becca also in the Bible spoken about the value of Becca. And we're other biblical scholars will also mention mountain parent. And it is the place that Adam
in the Quran, Adam peace be upon him first had a place constructed there as a place of worship.
From the angels towards God, and then when Abraham settles, Hagar and Ishmael and Mecca,
they build this house of worship. And that is where the gushing springs of zamzam are mentioned, where God sends an angel to
give a miracle to Hagar and Ishmael, that they can sustain themselves from, as they're not left in the desert. So Ishmael being the firstborn son of Abraham, is given a place, and there's a story and a history that's going to unfold from that place of Mecca. And then Isaac is born peace be upon him 13 years later, and there's a story and history that comes from that. But ultimately, Mecca is the center Mecca is where we turn towards for prayer Mecca is where we perform the pilgrimage, the Hajj pilgrimage.
Once in our lives, at least if we can, physically and financially if we find ourselves capable, we at least perform the Hajj pilgrimage, once in our lifetimes. But there are other pilgrimages throughout the year you can go at any time of the day, any time of the year, you will find people that will be performing the pilgrimage
and iteration of the pilgrimage in Mecca.
And it's an incredible practice. It really is a place where
you feel like you're no longer in this world. I mean, it's it's it's it's incredible. So we all go there dawning what's known as the Adam garb. So the men will wear
just these white garments, which are resembling or they they resembled the garments that we will be buried in.
And whether you're a king or a prince or a peasant, and, you know, in classical terms, whoever you are, whatever distinction you have, you're all the same, and the women will wear a simple garment, as well. So, you go there, you relinquish all of the pretensions and concerns and superficial barriers and distinctions that exist in this life. And we do what's called the WOFF circle around the Kappa, symbolically putting God at the center of our lives. We do seven rounds between Safa and Marwa the two mountains were Hagar, when she wants ran between those two mountains with her baby Ishmael looking for water trusting God was provided for we to go between the two mountains of Safa
and Marwa to express that trust and guidance of following that way. And these are ultimately these are the rituals that Abraham himself engaged in.
In our tradition, and the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him engaged in and so we engage in the exact same rituals and there are divine wisdoms to them that we may not even be able to unpack and reflect upon. But it really is in that place where
you find the most beautiful global expression of Islam, you see people from all over the world, people that don't speak the same languages, people from all sorts of backgrounds, and they're all doing the exact same thing. And in a matter of seconds, when the call of prayer comes, in a matter of seconds, to 3 million people get arranged in perfect rose for prayer, right and it just, it looks like this perfect optical, you know, vision of just beauty. When you see people in unison, standing, bowing, prostrating, and you don't know who the person next to you is. And that's where, you know, Malcolm X, you read about the history of Malcolm X when he went to Hajj, that's where his entire
not just his previous baggage. But
the dream that he then had, the possibilities that he saw, for people to be able to overcome some of the false distinctions that we have
race and class and to see God as one and two come together
and worship Him alone and also seeing each other equal participants in that worship. If you can just linger on that a little bit.
I think you've mentioned that Malcolm X has been impart misunderstood.
What are some aspects of him that I misunderstood? Well, I think reading his autobiography is
extremely important for anyone that wants to understand him, right. So you read them in his own words, Malcolm lived the tragedy of being a young, disenfranchised black man in America who went through all of the difficulties that were posed, and a 1950s America
towards him, I mean, he went through the system and it was all
For him, and he had to pull himself out of that and make himself into an incredible orator and incredible leader
that suddenly had a pretty empowering vision and a calm and, and nonetheless courageous but a calm presence to him
and was able to bring together people, especially uplift black people in America to believe in themselves.
Young Young men in America and in America and prisons, in particular will read the autobiography of Malcolm X and see hope for themselves to come out of the darkness of, you know, being imprisoned not just by the bars in front of them, but also by what they thought to be their own worth, prior to that moment. And so Malcolm climbs out of that, and he goes through multiple phases. So Malcolm dies as an orthodox Muslim, who does not believe in the superiority of one race over the other, finds great tranquility, in the practice of the Hajj.
Great clarity, and I think you read his letters from Mecca. And he talks about his his change his transformation in particular, and it was a process, it's a process for him. But he inspires the likes of Muhammad Ali to become the person that he becomes, and inspires many other people
till today, to really see themselves and see the world differently in light of that understanding of monotheism. So he was deeply a man of faith. And throughout his life, the nature of that faith has changed. As he grew as he interacted with with, I would say, a cruel society that he was living.
You mentioned he inspired Muhammad Ali, who, I don't think it's an overstatement to say it's probably the most quite possibly the most famous American Muslim from America, because you maybe make a few comments as an athlete yourself.
What impact did
Islam have on Muhammad Ali's life? And what and vice versa? What impact did he have as a leader as a as a religious figure? On the Muslim community?
I think Muhammad Ali, his quotes on on Islam are precious, because he talks about how he sought the wealth of this world. And he found that in Islam, he found a greater meaning. And he attributes everything that he became, to his faith,
his sense of strength and commitment,
the willingness to take a stand
for the truth, when it was extremely unpopular,
on the basis of his faith and on the basis of his integrity. I think that he inspired people with his confidence, and
his coherence. I mean, he was incredibly eloquent. I mean, poetic.
And just unwavering, seemed unbreakable. So as relentless as he was in the ring, he was even more so outside of the rink, the man could not be broken. And everything was stacked up against them. But he perseveres, and he does so then through Parkinson's,
and chooses to live a life of, of giving a life of service life of using his platform, to bring up issues of importance and to champion the rights of others. So he wasn't satisfied at any point in his life with simply being a boxing, great boxing champion. He uses it for so much more. And so he goes down as one of the most famous Americans period of the 20th century, one of the most transformative Americans period of the 20th century, not just American Muslims.
And a lot of people that loved him when he died, would not have loved him. If they were around in the 1960s in the 1970s. You know, they said they loved him when he couldn't speak anymore. You know, many of those who celebrated him at the time, his Duff, would have been his greatest opponents at the peak of his career. And when he was taking the stance that he was taking now, he was fearless. And part of this faith was helping him take the fearless stance, but throughout all of it, given the strength, I think he's also symbol of compassion, through all through all the fun kind of,
yeah, the poetic nature of who he was, and the fearless nature of who he was. There's always like a, like a deep love for the sport and for humanity. Absolutely. And that's the thing right? There was so obvious that despite everything that had happened to him,
he never loses himself, neither to the fame
nor to the fear. Yeah, he always stays himself. He's authentic.
And you know, when I went to his funeral, and it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, because everyone in Louisville, Kentucky had a story with Muhammad Ali, right, the guy that he saves from committing suicide, the schoolkids the hotel, shuttle driver, the gas station worker, everyone has a story of Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky. And when he, when he when he passes away, everybody comes out, and stands in front of their homes, and they take the casket and they drive around the streets of Louisville. And he had this dream. I'm very close to some of his, some of his children. incredible people, by the way, just incredible human beings. And he had this dream
that he shared with them that
he was jogging around the streets of Louisville, Kentucky. And everyone had come out to wave to him. And so he's running around jogging and waving to everybody in the streets of Louisville, Kentucky. Then he gets to the cemetery. And he says he flies into the heavens. So his his dream, and he had this dream years ago. I mean, if you look at his funeral, it's such a beautiful, you can't make it up. It's such a beautiful moment where it seems to come to reality because everybody Louisville just comes out and just waves by his casket. And then when he gets to the cemetery, the gates close, and he goes off to be with his Lord, and we pray that it's a good place for him. So Muhammad Ali is
probably one of the great 20th century representatives of Islam.
For me, personally, at least, if I'm not sure on my bias, one of the great modern representatives is Khabib Nurmagomedov, who's a great fighter and a great human being, so you've gotten a chance to meet him. I should also say your friends, you're good friends with a lot of really interesting people. I mean, it's such a widespread religion, there's just so much variety of different people that are practicing Muslims. So what
does Khabib represent? What do you like about him as a Muslim? What do you like about him as a person as representative of the religion? I think I think Habib,
first of all, he is a great person, you know, humble person, he's shown and now Islam as well, kind of following in that they're really showing the beauty of faith in their lives, their culture, their values.
Everything from the way that he carried himself in a principled way.
You know, like, like, every Muslim kid grew up in a public school cafeteria, before Islamic schools were a thing in the United States not eating pork, for example, and kind of being the odd person out. So when you got a fighter in,
in the UFC seen and doesn't drink alcohol kind of maintains, like a very
you know, attachment to his religion. It really is inspiring. Growing up, we had Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1990s. Basketball, who was fasting in the NBA, think heavy was is that for a lot of people, a lot of young people today, and and people in general. And I think beyond that, the values, how he honored his father, and how he honors his mother, and how he continues to put family first. That's a beautiful part of Islam. That's a beautiful part of our value system.
We have a lot of emphasis on family, family is central to Islam. And his honoring of his father was so beautiful. And again, what he's willing to do for his mother, you know, it's just so beautiful. And I think that we saw it, frankly, even with Morocco, and the World Cup.
You know, there is a lot of Islamophobia in this recent World Cup episode, a lot of the criticism of Qatar, while no government is beyond reproach certainly no government is beyond reproach, but had very obvious blatant Islamophobic undertones and then with Morocco rising, being the first African Muslim Arab team, you know, to get that far in the World Cup. What did you see beyond the consistent honouring of Palestine you also saw the honoring of the mothers every single time the game would end they go into a prostration of gratitude. So just like we prostrating prayer, or prostration of gratitude. And then they go into kiss their mother's foreheads dance with their mothers on the
field, hug their moms and honor their moms. That's Islam for you. Habib after his fight, what does he do? He prostrates points up to the heavens, it's God and then he prostrates
the whole Moroccan team beautifully prostrates even when they lost they prostrated out of gravity.
Today, they honor their mothers. So I think sometimes athletes are able to demonstrate some of these beautiful values of Islam in a way that the world can maybe see them in a different light, the values of humility, and the values of love, love broadly but love for family and look how everyone around Habib talks about him. Right? No one ever. No one ever says he's a jerk. No one ever says he's mistreated them. They've all got stories, right? And that's what a beautiful muslim does beautiful human being. You treat the people in such a way that all these stories come out later, of how good you were to everyone that came into contact with you and how he was that person. He is that
person, he does a great job of treating people with a lot of respect. Obviously, no one is perfect, right? I mean, imperfections are for everybody. But
I definitely think that he did a beautiful job representing his faith in those moments.
You know, beyond punching people in the face, that's kind of a different subject.
Smashing faces, not the smashing faces part, the prostration part and the humility.
I tell you, man, he's not humble in the ring. Right? He's, he would call his opponents right. But I mean, as a practitioner, as a fan of the sport of all grappling sports, for me, there's also a beauty to the art of grappling and the fighting sports. But yes,
I think is, again, humility, his honor, outside the cage is is exemplary. And the money, the fame, the power hasn't changed the man No, not at all. And that's, that's actually, I think, the most beautiful part when I met him, I found him to be as humble as he is on screen. And that's always very endearing. And all of the stories of the people that have been around him for much longer time. Very humble man, I pray for him. Honestly, I pray for Islam, I pray for that family.
That God keeps them grounded and protected, and together.
And that they maintain that beautiful spirit. Because even if you if you just watch the lead up to the last, the last fight with Islam, just the way they carry themselves their day to day, you know, they never relinquish their prayers. They never relinquish their family ties, the things that make them who they are to be better fighters, because they don't see that
they have to let go of those things. In fact, they attribute all of their worldly success to that, that faith and so beautiful examples. And I think that
it's good for young Muslims to see themselves in that and it's good for other people to see Islam through that as well. When you mentioned the prophets, you often say peace and blessings be upon them. Yes.
What does that phrase mean? Is Why do you say it is it to celebrate the peoples is a constant reminder that these are figures that should be celebrated? Absolutely. So it's part of our tradition that when we say the name of a prophet, at least the first time in the conversation, we say, peace be upon him. And then afterwards, it's still praiseworthy to say peace be upon him. So if you're reading an Islamic article, and you see in parentheses PBU, H PSB on to him or peace be upon him. When I was in high school, I often tell the story I wrote an article about Jesus peace be upon him and Islam and Christianity. And my teacher comes up to me and she says, You can't do that. I said,
What? And she like, slams the paper on the desk. She says, You can't say Jesus.
I said, No, no, PB uh, peace be upon him. So that's what it means and something that we reserve for the prophets of God, and we honor them with. So who is Muhammad?
So the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, is the descendant of Abraham, peace be upon him through Ishmael, God promises Hagar and Ishmael that he will make of him a great nation. And so there are prophets that are descended from Isaac, and then from the brothers of Isaac comes the Prophet Muhammad.
And he is the final prophet of a long line of prophets. And we do not distinguish between the prophets in regards to their role. And so Islam has a very accessible theology. It's something that resonates with
a professor at an Ivy League university and, you know, a person who may be even illiterate, this idea of one God that sent many prophets and all of the prophets had a singular message, worship one God, and respond to the messages of that one God through His messengers. So, Adam, through Mohammed, you have many of the prophets that are
And in the Old Testament, Moses, peace be upon him being the most spoken prophet in the Quran. In fact, Abraham,
Jesus peace be upon him. Many of these prophets that are familiar to people, all of them are considered Prophets in Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him being the last of them. He comes at a time where there was still a lot of confusion about what the world had just encountered in Christ and Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. So you got to think about it this way that this is still
you know, he's born in the sixth century, there is still great debate about who Jesus was. The Council of Nicaea happens in the fourth century, where you kind of have a standardizing of Western Christianity. But then you have Eastern Christians that are still maintaining very different theologies, and very different conceptions of Christ. There is no Arabic Bible at the time.
And he kind of brings together the message and the mission of all of those prophets. And it fits perfectly into a singular string of thought, where you don't have to reject Jesus peace be upon him. But Islam also is staunchly opposed to the idea of a Trinity, the idea of a begotten Son of God, that all the conceptions of the Messiah, and there were many claimants of the Messiah, prior to Christ, peace be upon him.
None of them included an idea of, of Trinity, or of him actually being a part of God Himself, a begotten Son of God, but rather a great and mighty Prophet,
that would restore glory on Earth. So he, he really captures theologically. Or rather, we would say God captures through him theologically, of coherence and the unifying message of all of the prophets, that there's only one God, and that that God has sent messages, and scriptures, to ultimately guide people back towards him. And then all of the prophets are equal in the sight of God, there is no distinction between them. And that we are to live our lives in accordance with the message, as best manifested by the messenger. And so the prophets are exemplary human beings. And this is where we kind of sometimes maybe have
a difference, you know, someone will say, Well, you know, Noah did this, and David did this. As Muslims, we don't believe we don't hold many of the stories that have been attributed to these prophets to be true.
We don't believe that the prophets are capable of major sins, we believe they're exemplary human beings. And that they kind of give us a manifestation of the scriptures that they were sent with, of how to live noble lives. And the most documented human being in history is the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon and we know everything about him, his family life, his day to day, the way he would greet you the way he looked at you everything about his physical appearance. It's documented in immaculate detail. And Muslims have a standard that they then seek to live up to,
with how to treat your family, how to be in your community, how to be in your worship, how to be in your social interactions, how to carry yourself with your neighbors. It's a full, complete guidebook, through his example,
where we have the Quran, which is the word of God and then you have the biography of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, which is a living manifestation of that word, that has been documented for us to live by, until the end of time. So Muhammad, if I may, peace be upon him.
Is is really the, you know, like you said, the manifestation of the thing to be the example of a good man, yes, example of a good human being
is the Quran the word of God. So the Quran and this is what distinguishes the Quran in many ways, from other scripture. So as Muslims, we do believe that God has sent divine revelation prior, we believe that the original scriptures prior to the multiple versions, and the changes and revisions throughout history, the original scriptures that were given to the Prophets, whether it was the TelaDoc, to Moses, or the Gospels, were all original divine revelations. But they've been changed over time. The Quran is the word of God with a promise that he will guard it for all of time. And it's probably one of the greatest miracles because in 1400 years, we have the Quran preserved
through oral transmission and through written transmission. And there are almost 2 billion Muslims in the world. And they all recite this book the exact same way and there's only one version of it. And so you
When I'm reciting the Quran, if I say, Ooh, or E or ah, differently, and Ethiopian Muslim, a Chinese Muslim, a Yemeni Muslim can correct me, an eight year old kid, and any one of those countries can correct me because they will know that this is not how it's memorized. And so it was memorized from the start committed to memory, and the time of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, and preserved in writing, and passed down and memorized by millions and millions of people around the world. And it's 600 pages.
And you can't go to a city in America, a city in the United States of America, and that find at least one person or a group of people that memorize it, that have committed it to memory. And so there's an emphasis on committing it to memory, as well as understanding it and applying it and practicing it as much as we can.
What are some
maybe deep or insightful differences between the Quran the Torah and the Bible?
Well, like I said, so So you've got the original revelations of those scriptures. But there are so many versions of those scriptures. And there are times throughout history where there have been changes just from an objective perspective, right?
What is the original scripture that was given to
Moses peace be upon him, and what was initially communicated to Jesus peace be upon him, those things
have changed over time. However, there's still some truth that remains even in those scriptures. And so there are still things that line up especially with the Old Testament, and Islam, there are still many things that line up between the two, the Bible as well, the New Testament now, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It's different because these are not
original scriptures. These are testimonies that were obviously collected around the entire phenomenon of the coming of Christ, but the author's themselves, the biographies, the documentation, even of those original testimonies, and gospels, what made the cut in terms of being included within the Gospels and what didn't, because there are many gospels at the time. And that sense, is different from what we believe was scripture communicated to Jesus peace be upon him.
The Quran is different in several ways, but it confirms what came before it. But it's the document and preserved Word of God to be recited throughout throughout time. So it confirms much of what came before it.
And it resides amongst us and within us. For the rest of time, and through it. We honor those revelations that came through the prophets of old because the essence the core of what came through those revelations is preserved in the Quran and with us, I tell people this all the time that you know, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him introduced
Jesus peace be upon him, and even Moses peace be upon him too much of the world. There are Muslims around the world that are named or ESA that are named Jesus. There are Muslims around the world that are named Ibrahim Abraham Muslims around the world they Musa and they learned of these figures through the revelation that came to the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him new Noah
Meriam on most popular names, and Islam marry, peace be upon her a whole chapter in the Quran named after Madame which is actually what I was reciting in the prayer was the chapter of Madame the chapter of the story of Mary peace be upon her. So the Quran contains the stories it contains
legislation and law, but primarily it was revealed over 23 years. So it actually was coming in accordance with some of the events that were unfolding life of the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. The first 13 years of that was primarily belief in God, belief in the Hereafter, and things that surrounded the core creed of Islam. And then legislation, law, Stories of the Prophets
came down in accordance with the unfolding events, as well as prophesizing some of the things that were to come and speaking about some of the things that have just happened and is completed in the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon have memorized and then communicated to generation after generation after generation, so that we have it in its pristine fashions now billions of people just