Changing the Present, Dreaming the Future
Channel: Sherman Jackson
File Size: 29.20MB
Matter regime T
Al Hamdulillah mistana who want us to fiddle want to study?
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be ready to help me Rapala anime my bad Salam alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.
First of all, I have to confess that I am
just a little bit starstruck
as I stand before you tonight. I don't know
if many of you know the value that Dr. Nasir has represented in our community, and I can speak
quite personally on this on this point. As a former student of Dr. Nasir, and as an academic, I think that oftentimes Muslims
don't know just how wrenchingly challenging it can be to try to sustain a dignified existence as a believing practicing Muslim in the academy. And for me, Dr. surfacey Nasir has always been a beacon of inspiration. And he has been,
he has been a beacon of inspiration.
Not because and I hope that this comes through the way exactly that I mean it not because I have always agreed with everything that he has said. And I think that he is a man of integrity, who like myself, believes that we don't need a community of zombies. So it's not a matter of always agreeing with what my brother or sister says. But in everything that I've ever read by him, and every time I ever heard him lecture,
the deep, profound, uncompromising belief in Allah in his book in His Messenger, and then the Day of Judgment, comes through with such uncompromising clarity. It has been an inspiration that has sustained myself, and I can assure you, many other students in the western Academy, and if he's still here, I know he's getting up there and yours but I just want to say publicly and in His presence does that too Kamala hair, and thank you very much. And I pray that Allah continues to give you yours and enables you to continue to inspire us Your presence has been most valuable, most valuable indeed.
Now, I have very little time and I want to apologize to the organizers for going over time last night, I will not do that tonight.
I have one order of business that I have to take care of. Last night there was a Hadith of the Prophet Alayhi Salatu was Salam. Which in my presentation, I completely mangled. And so for the interest of those who may have taken an interest in that hadith, I just want to give it to you as it is, and have been our best and not the Allahu Taala and Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, female Yoda we are not Beta Beta Kappa Allah and this is also a Muslim. Call it and Allah cuttable has a net you will see it from a beginner Delica from an hunmanby hasenhuttl in Colombia melihat Ketubot Halawa endo who has an atom cannula when hunmanby Hefa Amina had kept about how long I just
have a gel endo Astra has an antigen Elizabeth immediately they often often cathedra when hung up is a yet in Colombia Imelda kept Ebola and who has an atom cam
Allah, when hunmanby have amla, Ketubot Allah who say yet and where Haider. This is the Hadith that I tried to sort of unsuccessfully
add in braid or abbreviate last night. And I just wanted to give it to you as it actually is, so that my slate will be clean before Allah subhanaw taala on the Day of Judgment. Moving on to the topic at hand,
it's very difficult to follow Dr. Nasir
who took you to such elevated heights and then to bring you back down to the lowly heights that I'm used to operating on. But I am what I am. And I thank Allah for His bounties. And so I'm going to give you what what I have. I think the issue of changing the presence
requires that we first come into some clear understanding of what that present is.
To my mind, we live in a very highly integrated world.
And some of us have talked about this already, the internet cell phones, I mean, we can be in contact, we can know what's going on from time to time, in real time, second by second.
And all of this is shaping human relations.
And I think that in all of this, none is more important to understand
our present and to begin to dream clearly, to go back to the point of Sheikh Habibullah Jeffery,
I think we have to understand what this is producing in terms of cultural evolution, and what may soon develop into a cultural revolution that is quietly creeping upon the world.
And this cultural revolution has to do with the fact that
cultures and peoples are coming into mutual contact and interaction, on levels and in ways that are unprecedented in human history. And this presents new cultural challenges, new ways of coming to terms with cultural diversity, with cultural authority, and with the ability to carve out one's own cultural identity.
And I think that where we are successful, and managing cultural diversity, then we are in a position to pool our resources in such a manner that might enable us to rise to some of the challenges such as those Dr. Nasir laid out tonight.
And when we're not able to rise to this challenge, then the tendency is, however silently to have us divided, unable to cooperate with each other, each going our separate way, and not being able to pull our resources so and in a certain way.
The cultural challenge is as serious as any other because it will determine what kind of human relations we have, both on the level of sort of micro communities on the on the global level as macro communities. Now, I tried to very briefly lay out some of this last night, and I want to try to just very quickly and embrace it.
And hopefully fill out a picture. And so that I can talk about what I think the present challenge is and what a reasonable dream for the future might be. I said last night that the 19th century saw Western societies thoroughly dislocate non western societies culturally.
And this was, I think, especially true for Muslim societies. And I think that the cultural dislocation was much more severe and went much farther than any other influence that affected the Muslim world. And I think that some of what Dr. Nasir actually implemented, has a lot to do with the loss of cultural authority in the Muslim world. One of the reasons why it is very difficult to get Muslims to think independently and to think spontaneously, as they interact with the sources of their own religion is because the cultural authority in the world today rests outside the Muslim community. And so you're not going to be really considered a scholar really considered a scientist
really considered this or that unless what you do somehow earns the esteem of people who happen not to be Muslims. And so it is very difficult to incentivize Muslims to think independently where that independent thought as Muslims will will not be recognized in those centers that happened to be the validators of
of human activity in the world today. And that is fundamentally at its heart, a cultural issue.
And so the issue of culture and cultural authority is a very, very important one for us as Muslims.
Now, culturally, I think Muslim societies were pushed on to a certain path of westernization.
And I think perhaps no one captured this phenomena and this reality, as poignantly as as another Iranian intellectual, who was a Marxist and
soon came to discover that Islam was a much more profound outlook on life than Marxism. And so he, he became very dedicated to Islam, a man by the name of Joel Mudd,
who coined a very
poignant phrase that captures what has happened in the Muslim world, he called it Lazada. He, which translates as West stuckness, that the Muslim world became struck in armored by everything that seemed to have a Western signature to it. And this became something that sort of swept across the Muslim world, now hand in hand with this westernization when the marginalization of the religious establishment and the religious scholars of Islam.
And so for a time
coming out of the 19th century, even into the 20th century, what we have is the incursion of Western cultural motifs on the one hand, and very thin filters, very weak filters that were put in place, Islamic parameters, Islamic values, Islamic ways of seeing things, such that what was coming in could be effectively filtered, so that the good could come in, and that the back could be kept up. This was a very wrenching process for much of the 19th century, coming even into the 20th century. And I think that if, if any of you, if this sounds a bit abstract, and we want to bring it down to a more concrete level, I would invite you to do the following.
Those of you
who are from the Muslim world, or whose families come from the Muslim world, go back and look at some family albums from the 1940s, or the 1950s, or even as late as the 1960s, and see what you see.
And we will see almost a total sort of
disabusing Muslims of their Muslim cultural sensitivities. I won't go any farther than that. I'll let some of you tell others about it.
But this was a very serious and profound dislocation. And it happened. And there's no point in denying it.
as the 20th century wore on,
we see the reemergence of the religious establishment,
and especially a number of religious scholars who begin to recapture some of their standing in Muslim society.
And this is a phenomenon that brought with it the ability to begin to reestablish reconnect with a classical Islamic tradition, to the point of being able to put back in place some of those filters that might enable Muslims to know about the whole process of interacting with these western cultural motifs in a way that was consistent with Islam. And we began to see a number of
very important and influential intellectuals and Muslim jurists. I mean people like Chuck usable kind of Dawie people like Sheikh Abdullah bin baya shaken booty, shake, Bin baz and others, whether we fully agree or not, with these people, I'm talking about their reentry into the fold in such a way that they begin, they begin to guide Muslims in terms of how they will come to look at the Western motifs that were coming into their midst. And so when we end up in a situation where we can re establish the tools and the tools with which to differentiate between non Muslim on the one hand, and an Islamic on the other, have been there for a very long time. In fact, this was the process by
I'm traditionally spread into the societies in which it spread, that Omar Farooq Abdullah has has spoken about this, how Islam spread into various societies and how it interacted with local cultures, how it was able to let in the good and keep out the bad and empower those local cultures so that they themselves could go on and produce organically rich communities that could go naturally in their own environment. These tools had been there for a very long time. And as the Muslim religious scholars begin to re enter the fold, these tools began to be reassessed, re accessed, and the filters began to get re established, and suddenly make a very long story short, in my
perspective, what happens here is, this process of reestablishing these filters, enables the Muslims to avoid to avert the twin cultural enemies of Islam,
and the twin cultural enemies of Islam, or cultural nativism,
whereby the mere fact that something was done in the past means that it is right, good normative for the present. And we see many is in the Quran about this in number.
And this is very, very common feature in the Quran. Very early, we saw we found our father's following away, and we are simply following their path. With no ability to distinguish between whether what our fathers were doing was right was healthy, was functional, or not, the mere fact that they were doing it is enough to establish it as something that we should do. This is a cultural nativism, which is an enemy to Islam. The other enemy is cultural promiscuity.
Whereby, again, we have no filters, and whatever the newest fad is, we simply take it on, because it's a fad. And because we want to be seen as being up with the latest fad. And we can see aspects of this and what the Prophet did sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, both in Mecca and Medina, there are several Hadith in which the Prophet says explicitly Holly fully yahood, one machete King.
This was not differ from the Jewish ways and from the ways of the machete King. This wasn't an this was not an an absolute command. But there were always areas in which the Prophet warned us not to be culturally promiscuous, because the reality is, is that and by the way, advertisers know this very well. And that is that, along with a cultural practice, may come a whole bunch of other associations that go along with it. And that's why, you know, what do cigarettes have to do with a pretty woman has nothing to do with it? Well, they want to try and convince you is that if you smoke these cigarettes,
you will get this kind of a woman. I mean, that's the association. And these kinds of things are very, very carefully crafted. And so we cannot be culturally promiscuous. Because when we adapt certain kinds of cultural practices, along with them come other things that we should not, that we should not be involved in. And so what we as Muslims have to have is the right filters, to begin to let the good in and keep the bad out.
Now, the result of what Muslims went through,
has produced a very interesting phenomenon. And that phenomenon is that and this may strike you as being somewhat counter intuitive. But I just want you to reflect on it for a moment.
The reality is that Muslims have become much more culturally ambidextrous, and quite comfortable with assimilating Western and other non Muslim not an Islamic ways. And when I say assimilating them, I don't mean being assimilated to them. That's a different process. to assimilate something means that you exercise agency, you are a subject, not an object, you are taking it on, on your own freewill not having it imposed upon you. As a result of this experience of the 19th. And early part of the 20th century, Muslims become much more culturally ambidextrous, they are much more comfortable with assimilating particularly Western ways. And you understand what I mean by
assimilating Western ways. I don't mean by I don't mean by that happened imposed upon them. And I don't mean by by that doing that in a way that's culturally promiscuous, but Muslims are quite comfortable with this whole enterprise, switch the camera to the West.
The West throughout this period, was the dominant party and all this
And because of this, they had what may turn out to be the False luxury
of indulging a sudden cultural nativism,
without ever having to worry about cultural promiscuity. Because even when it adopted from other cultures as the dominant cultural motif on the planet, they can always claim it as their own. So they had what they could always look at as sort of an organic cultural evolution, never having other cultures imposed on the west. But what this ultimately
is a situation where the West in many ways seems to have landed in a position or situation that is the opposite of that of the Muslims. And so what we find is a West that is not very culturally ambidextrous, that is not very comfortable with assimilating non western ways, and especially the ways of the Muslims.
We see this very clearly
in what's going on in the world, as I said last night, and this is very difficult for Muslims to begin to even probably accept, because we're so used to thinking of the West as as culturally dominant, impregnable edifice on the planet. But the reality is, is that, as I see it, the West in many ways right now is quite culturally threatened.
It does not know how to assimilate certain cultural features in a way that they can make it sit as its way of life.
They don't have the tools with which to do that. We as Muslims have those tools, but the West seems to lack it. Now we see this in any number of instances, we can see this in what's going on in places like France. We can see this in what's going on in places like Switzerland. You can't even have minarets. Why? Because they're environmentally unsafe. Why? Why can't you have minarets, because they threaten us how
they threaten us culturally, we are unable to go outside and look at minarets, and still feel like we're in Switzerland. They threaten us culturally. We see this in what's going on in Germany.
Right, where Chancellor Merkel has come out publicly and said what multiculturalism is a failure.
Multiculturalism is a failure. And therefore, we want to act in such a way that preserves the integrity of German culture. This is what is happening now. We see this in what is going on even in the United States, I'm not going to talk about Canada. I don't know that much about it. And I'm a visitor here I want to behave. But I don't think that we should overlook the cultural dimensions that is animating movements, such as the Tea Party in the United States, even to this day. These are people who want to see America culturally, reflect its own cultural sensibilities. And it has difficulty it has difficulty in adjusting to the fact that, well, there are Muslims in America now.
And they are Americans. And they're not going anywhere. And they have their cultural contributions to make to America as well.
This is what is going on in the world. Right now. We have a situation where Muslims are culturally ambidextrous, where the West is not. And now we have to find a way now of navigating this very fact. The reaction to Muslims first and foremost, in the West, the primary action is cultural. It is not religious. Now, I'm not one who will completely disaggregate culture from religion, but when they see us, and this is a very potentially dangerous thing that we have, because they're reacting to us culturally, they never get to know our religion.
How many of them that they know about veils and hijabs and nightclubs, and all these other things? What did they really know about Turkey?
What do they really know about what Muslims actually believe in terms of the core of their religion? We never get to those things, because we're so bogged down in these cultural issues. Right now for me, and by the way,
there's a racial element to this as well, but
That's another story. And I know Imams aid and Dr. Omar and Sheikh Hamza and others don't want to see me get started up here. So I'll just
leave that one aside.
But I think it's very important for us to understand what's going on here. Let me wake everybody up and
even take a chance on getting in a little bit of trouble with my wife.
And give an example of what I'm talking about.
When I mentioned names like Bill Clinton,
What do they mean?
Now, it's not only what they did, but it was the impact these things destroyed, families, destroyed relationships, destroyed political careers. Now all these men happen to be very wealthy.
All right, and I want her sisters just to relax for 30 seconds, just
take a deep breath, just relax, I'm not just relax.
All of these men could have supported these women, as wives, all of them could have.
And the fact that this was not an option,
continually, actually promotes the very activity in which they were involved. And yet, if you were to say, Well, why not allow them to have more than one spouse,
and discuss it rationally,
we will be greeted with the whole idea that this is not our way of life.
We're not in discussion rationally, this is not our way of life.
Why are you so threatened by
we can talk about gay marriage and all these other things. Why are you so threatened by this, this is what I'm talking about, in terms of the lack of cultural ambidexterity in the west today, and Muslims need to understand this, because this has to do a lot with our future. Now, for a lot of people.
This is a lot of people like this, like to see the West in this, this crippled sort of condition or what they might interpret as a, as a sort of crippled condition.
For me, however, our contribution, especially as Muslims living in the West, has to be to model how human communities can deal with the fact that we have to move through the world in a way that we are culturally ambidextrous, that we are able to understand what is essential, and what is non essential. And in so doing, we can move through adopt this, drop that without dropping the ball. But in order for us as Muslims, to be able to do this, we ourselves first have to go back to our own tradition, re access those tools, and re establish our filters so that we can first of all, get rid of much of the cultural nativism that is in our own community, because it is killing us here. And if
you don't believe me, ask the converts. Muslims, we complain about, you know, Canadian, non Muslims, American non Muslims, they don't accept us, they're culturally bigoted. And we have some of this same cultural bigotry in our own communities. People who convert to Islam looked at the, the, the ethnic nature of our massage at some of them. If you don't look like me, you don't talk like me. You don't dress like me. You don't eat like me. You're not welcome here.
You're not welcome here. How can we can't How can we can't be more culturally ambidextrous, and say, Well, the way you look is not essential. But why you dress is not essential, as long as it satisfies the conditions that have been set bogged down by the Quran and Sunnah.
Why can't we model this cultural ambidexterity to the point that we can begin to grow organically in this part of the world. I think that
much of this
much of this
much of this, it has to be it has to be addressed, because this cultural nativism is causing more problems than we are aware of. And many of the young people
will tell you this, getting married as a young Muslim was a cultural nativism that we have in our communities, it has turned into an almost impossible affair. It's not a matter of how pious he is, it's not a matter of how much or she is her education, anything other than the fact that they happen to come from a different culture. This we have to find the tools to overcome, we have to be more culturally ambidextrous. And if we as Muslims are not modeling this in our own communities, we cannot expect others, others to Mali visa vie us. I have no more time left. So I have to stop here. I wanted to say that
we have to recognize that we all have feelings. And we all feel dislocated sometimes, but we are representatives of the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. And we have to remember, we have to remember that he was always a person who was willing and able to take the high road. He was always a person that was willing to take the road of accommodation. And that is the model that we should follow here. And if we do that we can make a genuine contribution to the societies in which we live.