Imam Talk Podcast #07 – Early Beginnings & Scholarship with Imam Daniel Hernandez
Channel: Tom Facchine
Series: Tom Facchine - Imam Talk Podcast
File Size: 39.30MB
Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa salatu salam ala, we're here with Imam tuck. So this is a podcast that's supposed to sit down Imams, so we can compare notes, we can reflect and remind each other and reflect upon our own individual communities, our own individual lives, and sort of the North America and our scene and what we can do to keep improving and building each other up. So we're here today with Mr. Daniel Hernandez mashallah, thank you so much for being with us at a coffee the Imam of the Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley, correct? Yes, Rochelle is about a cola. So one of the questions that that's significant to me, so thinking more of on a personal level, that sometimes we have
experiences before we're practicing, or in our cases before we're even a Muslim. Yeah. And somehow, unexpectedly, that experience prepares us to do the work that we're doing now as an imam in very unexpected ways. So sort of something along those lines, is there something in your life that sort of Allah used in your experiences before you are Muslim or before your practicing, that prepared you in an unexpected way for the work that you do now?
I would say
the first step was, you know, coming in contact with Islam, right, coming in contact with Islam. What you know, I used to play basketball in high school. So coming in contact with Islam was a Jordan retired 1993 I needed a favorite player. I picked Chris Jackson, he converted, change his name to Muhammad of the rove i. So I just came across his basketball card, the basketball card that actually began to teach me about Islam to battle. So I ended up back I said Mahmoud of the Rove, converted in this year, went to Hajj this year, and change his name to Muhammad Abdul rove. And Muhammad means this, have told me this Rove is this. So I began in in high school search, going to
end study hall go into the library, and searching about Islam. Right. Then I started I found a page with Quran translation of the small solar. So I started writing them down in my notebook, and I took them home. And in computer class, I printed a picture of the cover. I was a Muslim, and I put it in my room for my room, just because he's my favorite. He was my favorite player. So I saw that I wanted to be like him. So I was in 93, writers 93. So that was the way that I was introduced. I will say that the past influence where where I was going, is because Allah, you know, started to introduce Islam
started to introduce
Islamic commitments through basketball, because that year, I couldn't watch the New York Knicks, right, I couldn't watch the Denver Nuggets because they weren't that popular. So it's like that we didn't have that many channels. So I ended up picking the New York Knicks, right, because I was born in New York. So now the New York Knicks, you know, my favorite player became John Starks. So he was sixth man of the year.
So John Starks went to the All Star game and the Knicks made it to the finals. They play versus the rockets My brother was cheering for the rockets. Hakeem Olajuwon with fast in practice in his Deen, blood Starks or tip the ball and the Houston Rockets won the championship. So I used to hate Hakeem. Right. And I say, right, I was blessed with with, with with telling him in his face. And then we became close, you know, because he met me as any ma'am. I said, Look, you know, I didn't like you back in the days. But so, so that was my, my introduction to Islam. So I will say, music as well. Music as I used to do
a Spanish rap before it became popular in the States. And in those in those days. That was it was it was illegal in Puerto Rico. It was illegal it was called underground. So Panama was clogged if you were caught with the tapes, you gotta find or something like that. Yeah. So we were doing that in the clubs in New York and jersey and so on. So I was getting ready to prepare to record a new album, I had my 12 songs, everything was set.
But then I was coming to the transitional stage right.
So when I began to change
began to become more conscious. I started avoiding listening to contents that was just immoral because I came I came from a house of with a stable home, where my parents have been, you know, we're married for, you know, answer now like, you know, 50 plus years of marriage, and I seen it like an Islamic marriage, you know, type of thing, right? The other than manners. So I have these values. So I began to kind of change the world I was listening to so I started listening to all of a sudden, I'm listening to this group called killer army. Right. And one of the, and I was a Muslim. But I'm walking in the street with my, my, my, my Sony radio, right? Again, the street, loud, making
everyone listen to her and listen to there was no air pods back in the days, it was just like, everybody stuck. So I'm walking. And, and the song is Allah sees everything, everything, Allah sees everything. So I'm walking the streets and Alas, is everyday guy. I'm not Muslim, you know. So these things,
a phrase from Tupac, also impact me the key to living life is not another another another
verse from Killer army was the key to living life is refinement. Without knowledge itself, you're never going to find it somehow. That's deep.
So I've been under manage.
And meta heads of like, you know, always continuing learning. So I will say I wasn't Muslim. But these things were put in there. When I was when I was searching, like I didn't have, I couldn't trust human beings, right. So I'm here to search. And I'm like, asking God and
these things were being used, I wouldn't recommend somebody just saying, You know what, because of that I'm going to justify, and try to use those means to find guidance. That's reversing the cycle. Yeah. For where you were at? Yeah, like, yeah, so this is like, you know, there were challenges. So the question is, like, Why? Why would I not trust human beings? Right? Why would you know what, what? So the reason is, you know, I had my, you know, I was when my friends are not on a Sunday, and on Monday, I see them on the news that they were killed by my own friends. You understand that? Like, that's why I don't try I couldn't trust my, my circle, right? So I'm like, No. So then that's
when I began like searching and that's when I began reading the Quran. So I will say that, that commitment to
and, you know, when I read the I
can, I will do I can extend stand. So, that's what I'm gonna do. I'm only going to worship God, and I'm only gonna seek His help. Right? Yes, the others will say I love their means, but I'm gonna really rely on on getting it from trusting, really trusting that Allah will be able to guide me. So that's, I will say, that's how I prepare me for so I will always I try not to forget where I came from.
Because you have to kind of find you know, foe identity in Assam, you keep whatever good. And you live, whatever is not good. So I tried to like not, you know, sometimes just for reflection or listen, I'm like, Well, where was I, you know, how, like, I don't just shun it or close it, because it's something that is part of the story,
you know, as part of the story, and that's why it makes me feel like, you know, like,
what is relevant in our reality nowadays? Right? We can be
we can be hard on a particular ruling for let's say music, right? We could just be hard and say, you know, McLaughlin, no.
But you know, as parents we have children, we have this we have that, you know, in an environment where you cannot avoid, you know, even in productions and stuff, you cannot avoid music, even doing film, you can avoid music because they use it to edit, right? They use it to edit and so on so that the movie can flow. So therefore, it's almost unavoidable. You go over a child works in the mall, he's gonna be hearing music all day. And he works in the movie theaters music all day. So realistically, is, you know, teaching our youth how to choose and refuse you know, just to pick and choose whatever is good and they
They're responsible for that. And it's our I don't I don't like to give like a definite. I know there's, you know, views and yes, there's the Jehovah and all that, but I'm trying to think realistically, I'd rather have my child
do it in my face, then why this what we say in Janelia backstab me do it behind my back that's Fianna right it is worse for your child to, for you to find out years later that your child is doing it behind your back, you know that so there should be a level of
trust. And then as parents, we have to be patience, you know? So it's not, you know, it's very easy to say no, right? There's a theoretical aspect to it. But then there's a practical aspect to it. Many parents say this, you know, that they found out years later, and then I go, my son has been doing this.
So what was your approach? Initially? You were very strict. How was your relationship? So now he shuts down? He doesn't want to approach you. And so therefore, that is what you're gonna get. Yeah. So unless you're patient, I don't know how you say no, you have to this is your child. Not as easy to try with anybody else. Right. Yeah. So. So that's something that on a personal basis, I think it's, it's good to, that I tried to apply that, you know, those experiences, understanding the changing times. And then number four, my individual self. Yeah, we can be strict on ourselves religiously. Right, but we're others we have to show Rama and RIF and sobor. And, you know, because
we were there, yeah. Man, I pray that you get here, you know,
you have Hamdulillah
you know, some people they find it easy to, it's easier to just, you know, cover it up. It's not healthy. It's not psychologically healthy, for the parents is not psychologically healthy for the children, right? That trains you on the beaches. You know, I always tell you know, any youth be yourself, my wherever you are. Mashallah. That's great. How do you maintain sincerity, sincerity and privacy as an Imam and a public figure.
So, you know, I tried to, I will say,
one is output input, right? Output is what you, you know, where your, where your teaching where you, where you, where you share with the community, your advices and everything, your lectures hotbars. But then your input is, you know, what, your, what you invest in yourself, right, so I always try to, you know, since 100, since the first time, I took the post as an Imam, and to because the first years, I avoided taking a post because I wanted to know, the community by so when I moved to Houston, I lived in Houston for 11 years, I avoided hospice, for like, one year, until I got, I started working in an Islamic school. And through there, I got to know the kids, the teachers,
administrators, leaders, so that's another community. So then I went, so don't hotbars
so I think I have always, you know,
if I had, if I teach something, I always try to study and continue learning. And I don't stop.
I charted like, you know, if a particular text I want to master, you know, end up studying it, like 40 times, just to feel like, you know, to get some, it's kind of some mastery. And so I think that's, that's what has kept me balanced, right? I keep connected with them, I keep connected with the scholars, I always reach out and, and they know that I don't reach out to waste their time, you know, so I reached out with that.
Like, I tell people, like, for example, how many times you go to a gathering, and you meet a chef, and you meet, you know, famous chef or scholar in Ireland, like somebody's not somebody who just has a title or somebody who's in Ireland, who is you know, who has the pool of the Allamah worldwide, right? Like she sala de la Sol, right? I feel Allah
and people come and they will ask them a question.
You know, so I tell community members, I tell people, when I used to be in Houston,
and even administrators, I said, Listen, if you guys want to respect
that time of the shave,
then you guys should invest in having his fatwas translate it or you're not. And so you invest in that. And then whenever you have a question before you as the chef, you make your effort to search if the chef
I used to bother me so much. Like, listen, people, like search, the you can, and I said, if you don't want to read the book, you go use the app.
So that's so weird. So some of my teachers, right, like, I reach out to them, you know, Hamdulillah, like Shefali, Dmanisi and others and shift, Chef chef,
mommy cider hawan, who was in Medina, German photographer, he's back in Egypt and, and other, you know, so I'll reach out to them, and, and they respond right away. You know, they're responsive. So if mom is really, you know, they respond, I can send the message and, you know, the same day, you know, share Hollywood will respond to, you know, and hamdulillah some Imams, you know, not at that caliber, you might have weeks before you get a response, you know,
but that's something that I respect, because that's the way I was taught, right?
So when I see them in person, I show them that respect their arm that,
you know, like, you know, I'm in a line, I went to Amgen, and not not to say anything Allah knows best seller knows best. But it's just, you know, because this is Imam talk, right? And I hope that this is the you know, this mentioned and this is for Imams
to be conscious
of where they are. So I want to make sure that this is known that this is not for the general public, you should know this. But don't think that we're just telling you to respect Imams. We're also telling Imams to know whose superiors who are your superiors, we're, you know, higher knowledge. And you should also have this, this, this.
And voila, these scholars, they don't,
expect it, you know, they don't, they're very humbled. So when I was in Amgen,
we will get into food, right? So I ended up being in the front of the line. So when I look I look at I'm right away looking for like shave every day, I'm looking looking nice, even the back of the line.
So in the back end, towards the back. So I went I skipped the whole line in the front.
I got food for the show.
I went all the way to the back. And I told the sheriff to sit down, got him a drink. You know, and, and that's it. MashAllah understand like, yeah,
the thing is like, people are busy, people are busy talking about with all the respect, you know, the personal
endeavors. The projects, you understand you have different integer had different angles.
But you can't, like you can't be blind and be like, you know,
you know, somebody like, shaves the head, you have a whole lot.
Who's been teaching fit for over 40 years, you know, who has books who just did the physical Bulava muram. And and motormouth in the Saffi, madhhab and others, and he's in Ireland, and we have him in the States, you know, and so we need to,
you know, so that, um, you know, and one way is not just by Chef, what do you think about this sitting down and, you know, how, you know, he's taken over the shift of time, and during breakfasts to talk about, you know, your Messiah, but you know, how you made this hobby, you know, just show him that you appreciate his work.
You know, say if I did I finished with you in this book, allergies and solar flare can save, you know, I've been looking at your new recordings of fickle varuval muram. And he was like, so he got happy start explaining and this and that,
you know, felt like it's a fact of life, he has like 150 Plus recordings. You understand? So, so acknowledging it
and knowing kind of changes the conversation because now the chef knows that you've been benefiting from his output. And so now you're not just coming to, to, to, to pick some fruit from from the tree and just leaving, you know, there is some relationship. So whenever I have a mess, a mess Allah in the community, you know, that's the way I, I deal with it. So it's just the manners and from the law, that's so important for people to hear. And that's really, I'm glad really, really glad you mentioned that. And it gives us an opportunity like the lower guys down on the chain for Aetna, right? Because many of these things, they're, they're written in Arabic, maybe they're not
translated, if they're translated, they're not a YouTube series. If they're a YouTube series, they're not on Instagram. And so you have like a whole downstream thing, where actually the smaller local guys like, like me, can actually give Hedman service to the real Messiah by taking their stuff and repurposing it and, you know, that would be a good thing for the relationship. And the thing is, like, you know, like I had, I was talking to one time a,
you know, works for a publishing house, right? And his brother was telling me, you know, in this publishing house, we only have
books with authentic hadith.
I said, with all due respect, I'm not you know, calling you a liar, but that's not true.
And so then I asked him, I said, Mara, you can What do you think about it has Kalani
mashallah explained Buhari and said okay is any you know, shift the eighth and you know he's
yeah said okay, so what about is Have you seen pulled over the Mara Willow mom has week had this
is an SLR.
So we opened it the first bout Mahara look weak Hadith, afterwards authentic hadith. So, how do you understand that?
So I explained I said look in a bin Hydras Kalani as a man Hajj and he has a reason. So my whole man has all my hallmarks that was the methodology was the reason so so before chef, a chef, so he published his book right? I was already doing that that I was doing that study with Chef use of reels. So we will take involucral Moran
and we will use in we will use in the explanation of
they can bow that's a nice one Yeah, so I'm doing that so we're doing that right. But then we were taking the masala Hadith science of Hadith part from Novotel figure Okay, Masha knows that another and then we were taking the fact of the Hadith from Kitab al much more than we know we I saw so we will find in the Hadith in it. Right and we will see in the analysis of so then we found that the reason why even hazardous Kalani put this week had it first. And the authentic hadith afterwards is because this hadith was in the meta Imam Shafi al Khadim. Okay, and then this one is mathema, Sheffield Chedid. So there's a Reason or Reason, there's a reason but at least, you know, like, like
30 Bella didn't write the order of under the law. But anyways, but the thing is, like, you know, you value you saw I was explained to the brothers I look. So this is where why the older mother understand they say that the usage of weak hadith is allowed for particular reasons, not just to as a as a proof, but just to know that it exists and is not rejected. So those things, you know, just kind of raising the level of the people's consciousness, right, is informed but again, in the English language will limit it. Right. Like one thing that I hope that I hope that in the future that hope in the future we have
is that similar to like the Arabic books so you have in the beginning, the title
the left that does the author and then the
right Yeah, right. Definitely. Yeah. Oh, that video understand. So you have a whole map in the cover of the book. Right. But sometimes in the English language, you don't have that right. You have, you know,
or the maybe the author of the original book. And then you have the translator, or sometimes you have just a translator. And it makes it seem that he's the author, but he's actually using somebody else's book. Right? So I think if we can be, that's, that's a good way to value specialist specialization, right? So it's, and that's where we need to educate the community that we have this this time, there's, you know, there's darkness and the knowledge of the deen and this, yes, it's a you know, and all the general community needs to do is understand that exists, and have confidence in it and, and, and, and and Imams should be humble to follow that message. And so, right and kind
of educate the community, you don't have to put give that information to the community because they're not, they may not have the stamina, or that the humble that, you know, to, to carry it. But but that's the way I try to keep myself sincere is by learning. Like learning I know, you know, we know, we have studied,
we know what we have mastered. So maybe I started this book once. Yeah, maybe the chef was generous and gave me a jazz or certificate. But do I have?
Do I have
mastery of it?
Do I remember the stuff? No. So I need to study again, things like that, like being so self conscious and holding yourself accountable to
once I study this many times, then I feel like I got mastery. So that's the way I can, I will say that the knowledge is what keeps me seeking knowledge
is what keeps me sincere reading Quran seeking knowledge trying to even if, you know, even if I understand, even I just tried to go and look at the toughest see, and then just see, maybe I don't maybe I understood it at one time. But now it's a different time in my life.
You know, like, Chef Salas, I was given a talk, and after budget,
then you know, he was talking to the Imam. So now the setup is different.
So when he's talking to the Imams, he was saying, Look,
By having, you know, I know you get tired, you get exhausted
by having people come to you.
But just remember
that you're blessed with carrying this desire, passed on from the processor. Right? And he experienced the hardship. And he told his wife Khadija that you know, the days of rest are over. And so, you know, Allah reminded him because he had the responsibility. And you should be reminded, right, what I found, like, I think
we raised you in remembrance, if it wasn't for what you have, he sent the Imams, if it wasn't for you have the people won't come to you are so final. So now that they're coming to you,
let's be patient, be patient and don't shut them down. Like you know, sometimes we we get defensive, you know, and that's
it. So it's important to have scholars like that put things in different perspective. Because one thing that we
don't do often
is that we don't
we don't keep connections with one another.
So we work individually. And then we're dealing with the community, we get overwhelmed.
We have no outlet to vent, so becomes overwhelming. And sometimes we just leave the post and go somewhere else. So you can start and breathe by is a
You know, there's opportunities via is challenging. That's a great segue to another question which I had, which is how can mesh genes develop better relationships with each other?
In the same area in the same region? What types of collaboration and coordination would you like to see going forward between masajid between the Imams and can you think of any examples where it's working? Like you can point to it as I look what they're doing, that's what more machines or a man should be doing. So I think I think naturally there's always the you know,
Yeah, as we know, going from Imams going from administrators.
It's all new to us. Yeah.
Come take the poster and serve the community, the administrators are professional.
Also making the time, those that make time making the time to do headman manage the community by so
I will say the first collaboration, before collaborating with massages, is within a masjid.
And the collaboration is
I know, I know, there's
that feel that and this is my personal take. So please, don't take it as
they feel that
an imam. So I should be the one in charge in all decisions, and you want to be involved in the, you know, in all the committees and this and that, that's fine.
So a lot. Right.
So we have to understand what is our role? Our role is we are spiritual doctors, we are we here taking in,
you know, the MASHIAC the challenges and the hardships of the people. And we're trying to take it in. And then we're trying to give them case by case.
The prescription and that's complicated, it's easy to just send one message and hope that everybody can apply it, it doesn't work that way. You have to first listen, we have to be good listeners, the bowser solemn, was a good attentive listener. So that's number one. Number two is that we have to understand the role of the administration, the board the executive committees, you know, they have roles, right? So we need to know, when we stay in our lane.
Right. So one way is how,
you know, sometimes we work a lot as Imams, I work a lot. And it's like 24/7, right? Unless you unless some, some Imams love the word, right love. But sometimes you have to balance and slow down. Because you need to take care of yourself. Your family has a right in your, you know, yourself you have, right. So the thing is, we need to learn how to communicate the work that we do.
And sometimes what happens is it comes after a year, there's a year review. And the administration wants to see what you do. And sometimes they don't come to the programming, so they don't see what you do. And then is your word against their words, and it becomes difficult. And then And then sometimes the Imams get defensive, like I shouldn't be trusted. I'm the Imam. Right? So it becomes complicated.
What I've been doing for the past
I have a journal.
And in my journal, and I took this
not from a hottie scholar or something like that, but I take it from
what's his name? David Allen, who wrote the book, how to get things done. Okay. All right. So based on research, you know, he said that, you know, you have to empty your mind
and put it in a paper or put it in a trustworthy source. Because when you go to sleep, all of these thoughts are going to come to mind and you're not going to be able to go to sleep. So you empty your mind, even if it's a mess, and you go to sleep. And then the next day you organize it, and you start putting it in Priority story. So I started doing that, myself. For the past nine years, I've been doing that, right, everything. So
when I was in Texas, what I would do is I would just bring in sometimes administrators or some community members that like to start fitnah I would just bring it to my office, I thought come sit down, sometimes an engineer sometimes have a seat. So we'll talk and I was gonna show you something. Look, I'm working on this, on this project that does our work on this my mind map is this, this this? So I showed him this. Anyway, he's a project manager, right? Yeah, he's like, he made me do this. So yeah, all my work is here.
My counseling, my meetings, my projects, my tafsir prep my Hadith for my classes, my plans, my ideas. All of that is here in a mess that I take whatever here I type it down or organize it.
So then he stopped being causing fitna,
you understand, he's darker. So instead of like, jumping on him, and I tried to raise his level of consciousness by just, you know, sincerely just educating him, like, this is what some Imams do, right? We do the work we do. Sometimes you don't document it, prove it. But so so it's like, you know, when when you put on the hot seat right?
Now, it might be a day that you woke up late, you didn't have coffee you didn't. Your breakfast was in 100 of us. So your mind is not there, or you had, you know, an argument with your wife because imams are human beings, right? You had an argument, the wife or a child or whatever. So
you might not be able to answer yes. So you haven't written down, you bring your notebook, you get annoyed, I forgot something you can open and show. Right.
So what I've been doing here in the muscle association of Lehigh Valley is that I
submit a report. Right? And this report has everything that I do, right? Everything that I do from, you know, prayers from
lectures hotbars what are the titles, you know, counseling, you know, a counselor, we try to not put the details but just know how many counseling sessions and
also service and new Muslims What is that about and
interfaith, Jana is prayers, all of those when, and it's just two pages.
But it's clear communication. Because in Harvard, business school, they have these little booklets, and one of them is called Managing Up.
And it teaches you how to communicate with superiors while
and I tell this, with all due respect to any administrator, whether in Texas here anywhere, I said, Look, I'm not I'm not trying to
please you, right? With all the respect, you know, I'm just trying to communicate with you why because this responsibilities on my neck,
this responsibility of being an Imam, so I have to do this. Right, for those that attended the programs, they can bear witness, this is not a big deal, right. And there's some administrators that attend frequently. So they know, they, they see that everything that I that I say I do, I do. And sometimes I'll send them pictures here and there just for to make them feel good, right. But at the same time, you know, it's all like, it's about trust.
It's I communicate,
this is what I do.
So and I'm just gonna, I want to tell Imams that when when you do this, you know, when you communicate, and you're sincere with yourself,
and you're sincere with the community. And the board knows that you're sincere with them, but you're not trying to please them, you're trying to please Allah, what you what you get is you get an administration that
right, that support you, you always gonna have you know, and this is, you know, is the way you deal with things, right, you're always gonna have some challenges, right? But it's the way you, you you, you face those challenges, and you try to bring the positive, the positive
results, right. So that's the thing. So you're always gonna have challenges I don't want to I went out when I was in when I was in Texas when I was impaired. And I was part of an organization that has 22 messages. Wow. And when I joined this organization, 300,000 members, right? People cautioned me, people were saying don't join don't this, don't that. And I listened to them. I respected the advice but I said, Look, with all due respect.
I'm not going to make your experience my reality.
I have a particular way of dealing with with matters.
And, and 100. I lasted in the semester, eight years. The only reason I left with their letters of recommendations is because I wanted to serve my parents. So I moved back to the northeast to be closer to them. You understand? So I so that's the only reason not because there was conflict. Right? So
Though some people will say, yeah, man, but that was, you know, that's a, you know, that's a rarity, right that, you know, that kind of community, you know, you're fortunate. So okay, handle, I've been here, you know, a year a year, in three months. It's been consistent. And actually, you know, I have had a great experience. Yeah, we have to help ourselves, you understand the community, because the intention of coming here was, what was noble, which is to serve my parents, because I'm like, I'm not going to make the mistake that other people have made of going to serve the community. And then their parents passed away. And they say, wait a minute, I didn't give them their rights. I said no,
after Allah, after the price of Salam, right, is better validate. So Kevin atopica? And how do we applied knowledge? If we don't know how to put on a yacht? You know, that I am prioritize? So I chose to I said, if I want to teach, I want to teach by leading by example. You know, and my chef actually told me, he was like, my main teacher in Egypt, he was like,
if they don't move,
as a chef, err, in unstable is,
as Okay. So then consulted, you know, my wife, and she's a lot of Chef Mama said, don't move you move. We move.
You understand? So these things that this is the scholarship, family consultation? is sincerity in the process, right. Like it's not like, like it wasn't for just an increase in salary. You understand? Like, it wasn't for that, because I had offers. But I said if I start moving in that direction,
I will never be satisfied. Yes.
That's a great, I think place to end it for today. Because we've been going for over an hour. We could we could do no, this is great. I mean, we only touched a few questions. I think we have a lot more to talk about. So we have
two sessions, three sessions. Thank you so much. It's
such a pleasure to talk and bounce ideas off each other.