Minute with a Muslim #045 – Islam & The Modern World- A Path To Redemption
Channel: Tom Facchine
File Size: 26.49MB
So the title of this talk was Islam and the modern world. And I titled a path to redemption. I hope by the end of it, you'll understand exactly what I mean.
I start out with with an interesting quote, it's a phrase maybe you've heard before, in 1968 memoir,
there was a United States Air Force General called his name was Curtis LeMay. You know, the United States was involved in the Vietnam War at the time. And reflecting on it. He said, you know, instead of negotiating with the Vietnamese, we should have just bombed them back to the Stone Age. That was the phrase that he used.
This phrase actually came up again, the war on terror. Maybe some of you remember, there was allegedly an exchange between Pervez Musharraf, the late President shot off. And a US official Richard Armitage, who apparently said, basically, you have to join the war on terror, or else we're gonna bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age.
Now, that's a really intense phrase, okay, and a lots going on there. The barbarity and the hubris and the arrogance and stuff like that. But there's one specific thread that's hidden in that phrase that I want to kind of pull out and bring to your attention. And that's the understanding of time. Okay, the idea that you could take someone who their calendar says the same calendar date that I have in my phone, 2023. And by doing something to them, I can actually take them up out of time and move them back on some sort of scale, and throw them all the way back to the Stone Age.
That's sort of threat, that sort of phrase has certain assumptions behind it. And this assumptions behind, they're actually freely really important to what we're trying to do here in Tokyo Community Center, what we're trying to do as a Muslim community in North America,
one of the assumptions that's hidden in that quote, is that the idea of what is the modern world, it's built on technology, it's built on infrastructure, you think about roads, you think about gadgets, we've got mashallah these cool, you know, cameras and these tablets, and these sorts of things, fun, new things. And what's hidden in the quote is that, well, if I can just, you know, snatch those things away from you, I send you right back to the Stone Age. Now, there's some problems with that kind of assumption. And there's a few of them. So one of them, it under emphasizes or doesn't give sufficient credit to some of the technical, illogical advancements that
previous civilizations have had. Right, some that still remain to this day unmatched, we've got Roman roads that are better than New York roads, at least, right. And they've figured out, you know, geologists, they've looked at Roman concrete, and somehow, the way that they mix their concrete with the passage of time and erosion actually adds to the strength of the concrete, as opposed to what we see people using today for their building materials. You know, the pyramids are such a miracle that, you know, they think that maybe aliens helped out or something like that, they can't really accept that this is something that people back then could pull off, could do. So it's not just when we talk
about bombing someone of the Stone Age or some people back, cave dwellers a stone age, we're not just describing facts, here, we're actually making some sort of claim we're claiming that now is the best possible world that you could live in. And that anything in the past well hits the Stone Age, it's bad, it's backwards, it's inadequate, it needs to be updated. And so if you don't get with the program, if someone's threatening to bomb you back to the Stone Age, they're basically saying, I'm gonna wipe out all of your progress, you're gonna have to start back again from zero.
It's interesting that that's kind of a triumphant narrative, right? It's like, well, we've just added an added and added and added and we've got all these things that we keep on adding to our value as human beings or our civilization, our or our group. Or why don't we think of the liabilities? Why don't we think of the drawbacks and the negatives? Why don't we think of impending nuclear war? Why don't we think of housing crisis? Why don't we think of food deserts? Why don't we think of environmental disaster, somehow that stuff gets wiped away, and it's not considered part of the modern world, or at least not emblematic of the modern world? What's emblematic of the modern
world is the microphones and the gadgets and all the fun stuff. We don't think what's pushed to the side all of the bad stuff. And so to understand the place of Islam in the modern world, and the place of this community in the modern world, it's actually a tough task. We have to describe something that we're inside of. It's like if you ask the fish to describe water,
I would imagine the fish have probably
Please say What's that?
If that's the only thing that you know you're swimming in it, you're constantly surrounded by it every single second of every single day, it's hard to grasp what exactly it is. And only through going through something else can you actually understand what you're talking about. So we can't just take at face value, these sorts of things that people say, you know, we live in the best time and modern technology and you don't want to go back to those days, do you? We need to be a little bit more critical than that. Because if the received understanding of the modern world is right, if we are living in the best possible time, the best possible place the pinnacle of progress. Well, wait a
second, that causes some really significant theological problems. The Koran was sent to us in the past. The Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam lived in the past, Islam, the last generation of human beings was in the past. So if we're going to treat the past as just some bad stone age thing we don't want to return to
we've closed ourselves off to learning from the past, and assume that we can only leave it behind.
No, it's not us that needs to change with the times. As the saying goes, maybe it's the times that needs to change with us.
So instead of trying to fit, take a slam and fit it and mutilated into modern sensibilities, recent sensibilities, maybe we need to shine a light and start questioning some of these modern sensibilities, and investigate how Islam actually provides answers to modern predicaments in interesting ways.
So I would like to pose like a counter thesis, if you will. So of modernity is not just gadgets. It's not just roads, it's not hospitals and technology and all these sorts of things. And what is it?
I would say that the modern world is defined by one thing and one thing only extremely significant for Muslims. And that's the structural abandonment of morality with the structural abandonment of morality. Okay, abandonment of morality, I think you're already there. I don't need to explain that. You know, we have drag queens with their reading hours at the libraries and explicit, intimate acts being described in books and sent to elementary school kids and all these sorts of things that are going on, we don't need to look too far or think too hard to understand how morality has been pretty much abandoned. Even the government gets involved in things that we consider as Muslims to be vice
you know, they tax the lottery and they tax smoking and alcohol and even weed New York Least Recently legalized marijuana that's becoming a big problem. Euthanasia, right. That's a local problem. It's the sorts of things that government has a hand in.
But the part that might not be so intuitive is the structural part because Okay, abandonment of morality, we got it. What do we mean, we say the structural abandonment of morality, it means it's not just limited to one party. It's not just limited to one administration, this thing is baked into the times that we live in, it's baked into how everything is kind of set up. Because somewhere along the line, and you know, if you want more information, I won't bore you, you can check out my stuff with Paul Williams on blogging theology, at some point in time, we've replaced the soul with the citizen. People used to think of themselves as souls. Who am I, I'm a soul that happens to have a
body, not a body that might or might not have a soul that might or might not have a religious experience.
So we've replaced the soul with the citizen. We've replaced the spiritual with the political. And so religion and ethics and morals is all a private matter, you and your four walls you and your family, you take care of it as long as it's not in the public space. And we've seen that what's been the result of this shift this change this inversion has been a slow, but sure, degeneration and devolution of moral standards to the point where we've got the time that the library, the read alouds and whatnot.
What are some of the results that we see of the shift as ethics has degenerated and degenerated and degenerated? And how can Islam help? How can Islam stand in actually to save the day?
I'm glad you asked.
If we think about the past the Stone Age, what comes to mind the hardship, pestilence, disease famine, right? Life is as some author put it nasty brutish, and short.
But what we've gotten in the modern world once we separated more
morality in a structural way, we left it behind.
We don't have calamities that naturally happen. Well, we still do. But we've increased the calamities that we do to ourselves. The synthetic calamities the man made calamities, take food, for example. Okay, we've left famine, for food desert.
You guys know what a food desert is right? Places where there aren't any grocery stores, places where there aren't any supermarkets, there's actually places in the inner city, I'm sure in Toronto, definitely in New York, where you can't even get to a grocery store, you can't buy a fruit or a vegetable. The only sort of thing that people have to eat in the inner city is processed foods that are horrible for your health.
Another sort of thing that we have, we might have a lot of quantity, but we don't have a lot of quality to our nutrition, you know, sciences, they talk about something called nutrient collapse. It's basically if I'm going to put it short, like if farmers have to choose what Apple to grow.
By what criteria do they make that decision, they're not choosing the healthiest Apple, that choosing the one that lasts on the shelf for the longest time. Right? The one that will get shipped across the country to Vancouver, or in our case, California. And so actually, the nutritional quality of our food has been steadily steadily declining. That's just one thing food we can go to warfare. And we can look at the same thing how we've kind of this leaving behind morality has shifted us from a land or a time of natural calamities and brought us into a time of manmade calamities. Back before this shift happened. Yes, there was something like a default state of war,
every civilization was understood to be kind of like by default at war with another unless there was some sort of treaty or something like that. But the weapons that you had the fight the war, they were limited by very, very physical limitations. If I had a sword and you've had a sword, the difference between us is how short my blade is and how strong my biceps are.
Well, we've left that behind. Now we have left the default state of war behind we have the UN we have treaties, we have the Geneva Conventions, the ICC, but the weapons, the weapons are much more sinister and evil.
Nerve gas, depleted uranium bullets, napalm and of course, the crowning achievement of modernity, the atomic bomb,
result of leaving morality behind in a structural way. Social Bonds also significantly suffer. In the modern era, one of our principal challenges and problems, the family intergenerational issues, the young don't want to learn from the old, they don't feel duty towards the old. They've got these ideas of progress. Remember, your parents are antiquated and outdated and your grandparents Goodness me. They represent that stone age that we talked about.
We're taught, we're taught individualism, we're taught self determination, moving out starting on your own. And these are all seen as very exciting and fulfilling things, rites of passage in our modern era, that we don't realize how this also plays into the hands of a government and corporations that wants to make every one of us a consumer and a producer and have our own house and have our own car and have everything on our own.
If that wasn't bad enough, okay, the old themselves, no offense, no offense, they have less to teach. They're uprooted from their traditions. They're in a strange place, everything's different.
And now the things that they have to tell to the young, it's more just a summary of their own life experiences and less a continuation of generations and centuries of tradition.
The family has other issues as well, you know, between siblings, they have less duty towards each other. They're four further apart. You've got one in Vancouver and one in Toronto and one in Ottawa, you come together once a year, twice a year, maybe someone dies and you come back together for the funeral.
They don't feel as much duty to support each other in times of crisis. There is individualism again, there's self determination again. There's the structural abandonment of morality again.
And of course, issues between spouses. We don't need to spend too much time on this, but you have feminism on one side and red pill on the other
purposeless antagonism from each side. Acting out of rage and spite and desperation. All this results in often empty homes.
Last thing and this won't get too depressing. Don't worry. There's a light at the end of the tunnel. We'll talk about ecocide. Okay, let's talk about ecocide. Some
As a little more cheerful subject, because the environment that we're living in is literally becoming unlivable. Because we've left behind morality in a structural way. microplastics are accumulating in the environment, we're ingesting them, they turn up in our blood. A lot of it comes from synthetic clothing, makeup, these sorts of things. You know, there's a place in the Pacific Ocean, that's called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. And we ever heard of that? Yeah, right. The great like, that's they've named it really well, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It's, and we know how big it is
twice the size of Texas, twice the size of Texas, that's enormous plastic that accumulates in the ocean. Because of everything that we use, you know, every single plastic fork that every single machine has ever bought, still exists.
And it will continue to exist for 1000s of years, hundreds of 1000s of years, actually,
in those plastics, they put things like endocrine disrupters, or I should say they put things like chemicals in order to give the plastic certain properties that disrupt the endocrine system and mess up with your hormones and delay puberty and all these sorts of horrible things. I could go on pesticides, fertilizers, mono crops, GMOs, you get the picture, the main point?
Is this progress?
Do we live in the best era?
Is this something that we should be trying to fit into?
Is this something that we should be assimilating into? Or rather, is this something that needs to be redeemed?
And if it's something that needs to be redeemed, then what on earth is going to redeem it, I would say is that
Islam is the last thing left. And it offers the most hope to turn the ship around.
Why? Because Islam you can't separate out the ethics, you can't separate out the morality, it's built in structurally to everything that we do as a Muslim, from your individual life, to your family, life, even the city or when it comes to statecraft and everything. It's baked in. We talk about distribution of resources or how to consume. It's not about competition. In Islam, it's not about accumulation. It's not about greed. The Prophet alayhi salatu, Salam said, is headed for dunya your ebook Allah was had female and the NASA had broken nests, if you refrain, if you hold back from what is in the dunya, Allah is gonna love you. Beautiful. And if you hold back and refrain from what
belongs to other people, the people are gonna love you, too. The Prophet alayhi salatu salam also said there is nothing more evil that somebody could fill in their own stomach.
It's sufficient for a person and I'm thinking about my own self here because Sheikh Ibrahim took me to lunch and I ate way too much. I'm not eating dinner tonight. Haram Alec,
there's nothing more evil that you could fill than your stomach sufficient for a person is to eat enough to keep his backup, right? So you can stand up. And if you can't manage that, then third, third, third, a third for food, a third for water, a third for air.
But it goes beyond our patterns of consumption. Let's talk about solidarity to the other creatures in this world. It's not just inert matter. This is not just a bunch of
inert cells dead cells actually some of the Enlightenment sciences actually called them stupid. Right if you want to go back to the separation mind body
we actually have solidarity towards on the Prophet on Easter that's Assam used to give salaam to the rocks in the mountains, the trees used to bend over to shade Hemmati Salatu was Salam.
And that solidarity we have with other creatures that starts with our own human kind and human family. The prophets of Allah is suddenly said Lisa, the movement Mendota Shavon, Mogera, who Elijah and behavior Iran La Jolla. Anna
you're not a believer, you're not a movement, the person who goes to bed full and he knows his neighbor is hungry.
Well, that's bound to Allah praises people in the Quran for preferring others over themselves. We will say Donata and for him one Oh, can I be him Kasasa
they praising them preferred others to themselves, even when they themselves were in hardship.
This is not competition. This is not survival of the fittest. This is not self interest.
And finally, we have a very important principle.
Quality over quantity, the exact opposite of what we see in the modern era, the Prophet alayhi salatu salam he said herbal Armory in Allah He
Dumas will implement the most beloved action so Allah azza wa jal is the most consistent even if it's little
quality over quantity always.
Islam has a lot to say and to redeem when it comes to our social
social cohesion, instead of the social fracturing that we have. Think about everything Islam says about parents in the Quran. Allah subhanaw taala ties gratitude towards parents as like a transferable skill to be gratitude grateful to Allah. Think about it. Did you ask to be born?
No. Every single one of us same answer, no. And yet here you are, and Allah gave you what some are? What about sorrow? Right? He gave you sight he gave you hearing, he gave you all these things. You didn't ask for it tough.
You have a debt to pay. And Allah's found out it always brings us from feelings of feelings of gratitude to directing us how to use that gratitude to worship him.
Is it any different with your parents?
They wiped your bum?
They did. They cleaned up your vomit.
They lost sleep, trying to get you to sleep staying up all night with you and you were sick. You didn't choose it.
And that's how Allah wanted it. You're indebted. You have a debt to pay. There's indebtedness, there's gratitude, and then there's how to express that gratitude. We're not even allowed to say oh,
we're not even allowed to.
That's the modern day oath, right? sigh and the roll the eyes a little bit dropped via
haram. It's not even allowed for you to do that. Look at the social cohesion. Look at the strength of the family. Spouses Do we have something called Gender Wars and a SNAM are female and male like fundamentally opposing forces everyone has to outmaneuver and the other one and outsmart the other one and trick the other one to manipulate the other one. I'll step through Allah, Allah Spano. Allah says in the Quran, were complimentary haves. We are Allah azza wa jal as well and someone forgot every single one of us has Knucks every single one of us is incomplete. And Allah gave us the other half to complete us. You're not complete without the other half. That's how Allah made you mean it
and harlot Allah mean and fussy come as virgin why. One of Allah's signs is that he created from us spouses pairs, Allah says Why lambertini
Lee Tesco no la her what Jollibee in a coma What the what?
So that you would find tranquility in one another?
And he put between you love and mercy in the field Attica. Yeah, Tiffany Coleman. He has
siblings as well. We're not opposing forces. We're not supposed to live in separate lives. I always say this one over in New York and this one over in California. When somebody dies they fly in and they collect the will and they go home to their separate lives. Is that what Allah wants? Is that what the relationship between the brother and sister is supposed to look like in Islam?
Allah says something amazing after he talks about the inheritance laws and certainly set it's absolutely one of my favorite is well that's a man no man football Allah who behaved better the Kumada don't want to have you wish for what Allah has given to the other
heart. Don't wish for what Allah has blessed the other one with meaning implication ALLAH blessed some of you with with more in one way and blessed the other with more in a different way and neither should be jealous of what Allah subhanaw taala has blessed them with special things.
Literally Jalen Acebo min max possible willingness set in a simple min max possible or worse, a little law, I mean family and ask ALLAH from His bounty, don't ask each other. Don't try to take it away from the other one. Ask Allah subhanaw taala we're supposed to be a team, Team US team family teams, siblings, Team spouses, Team Muslims,
Team human team creation.
So we talked about consumption, we talked about that. We talked about family social cohesion. Finally, the last, maybe most existential problem we mentioned was ecocide, right? The destruction of the environment? How can we get out of it? How can we redeem this world? We're literally making the world unlivable.
How can we get out of it? Who's going to save the day? It has to be a snap and it has to be the Muslims. Allah smart Allah the first thing he says about human beings when he creates us in the Jilin Fidel Khalifa.
Really an interesting term Allah could have said in sand he could have said NASA he could have said a lot of other things. But he said Khalifa Khalifa is not what we are. Sound descriptive, it's aspirational. It's a job description. It's what he wants us to be. What's the honey
pur Khalifa is somebody who manages everything the way that Allah subhanaw taala once
we do things the way he wants, we take care of everything. We take care of everybody, every creature big and small, the trees were taking care of it the clouds, the fields, the grass, the bugs, sorry, yes, the bugs do.
You human beings are taking care of it, we're supposed to take care of it.
That's part of my issue with you know, we talk about climate change, right? We talk about global warming. And almost every
one of my problems with how that's framed is that it's only focused on results. As if to say, if the world were not warming up, we wouldn't care.
As if to say if the climate were not changing, then we would have no problem with our consumption or production and what we're doing. No, that's not the way but most of the Muslim is process oriented. process oriented, we do the right thing. And we trust the loss of panel data for the results. That's why Allah Spano Dada, sorry, the prophet Isaiah, he said at this time said one of the most amazing Hadith most of you are probably familiar with, if the Day of Judgment were to happen right now.
And you had a sapling in your hand,
then if you have the opportunity to print to plant that sapling to plant that seed, go ahead and plant it.
Is that worried about the results? That's about the process.
And finally, the Prophet Muhammad Ali Salam, he said,
all these efforts that you're going to do, the whole creation is waiting. The whole creation is waiting for you and me. They're waiting for us to wake up. They're waiting for the Muslims to wake up and save the day.
The Prophet alayhi salatu salam said in
yesterday's low level Kulu che had to hate turnabout.
For somebody who understands this Deen, they understand it from beginning to end the whole structure, the whole system, every single thing asks a lot of forgive them, even the fish in the sea.
And the amount when they explain this hadith hence, because they the person who understands Islam gives everything it's right treats everything the way that Allah subhanaw taala wants it to be treated.
This is the world that we live in right now. This is where we came from. This is where we're going.
There's only one group of people who can save the day. And that's us. And the things that we're doing here. So he the community center is exactly part of that project. Exactly part of that project. So my hope for you is that you take this project seriously. And you think very seriously and intentionally about all these things. I know I gave a lot sorry about it.
And you support this project, because it will outlive you and it has the potential to really make a difference and turn things around and redeem not just assimilate, not just fit in, not just get accepted,
but to redeem the world that we live in below Tada.