Speaking with Non-Muslims about ISLAM

Tom Facchine

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Channel: Tom Facchine

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So they ruled that the Jewish merchant gets to keep the armor. And at that moment that Jewish merchant was so impressed that he said, You know what, this is not normal. I'm gonna convert to Islam. Thank you very much everybody for your attendance today.

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My name is Tom, I'm Italian American convert it converted in 2010. And I wanted to share a mix of past and present because it's not useful to just go into the past and the history books if we don't relate it to what we're going through today. So I wanted to share a story that happened when I first converted, you know, being an Italian American family and an Italian American person. We like to call people, aunts and uncles, even if we're not blood related to them. Right. So, you know, I had, we had a lot of those. I have wired one that was we called Aunt Maria is my mom's best friend growing up and and Merida was actually polish and she was Jewish. And I remember the first time I

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went over her house after I converted, and she said to me, Tommy,

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what does this mean? Can we still be close, because now you're Muslim, and I'm Jewish.

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And at the time,

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I didn't have as much information as I do now. But I was smart enough to say, if anything, that should mean that we should get even closer.

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Because the similarities between the Islamic and Jewish faith are very, very well known. In fact, there's an argument and it's a strong argument to be made, that the Jewish faith with its emphasis on law and practice and ritual worship, has maybe the most similarities to our legislation, how we live our lives in a snap.

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But what was in her mind that made her react that way, was something that would take me a little bit longer to figure out, this wasn't just by us, it wasn't just the fact she watched Fox News, which was true, but that's okay. But it's something that we see on display, every time there's an escalation in Palestine, or in the Middle East, this idea that they've been fighting forever. When will these people get along? These people, it's just can't they just be taught to respect one another and love one another and respect each other's faiths. And it took me educating myself just like it took at Merida, educating herself to understand that that's not what is going on in the

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Middle East and in Palestine. It is not an issue of Muslims hating Jews and Jews hating Muslims, if that were true, then we would not see the level of opposition that we see amongst the Jewish people for what the government and the military of Israel is doing both here in this nation, and in the nation of Israel itself. People holding protests and demonstrations outside of Netanyahu whose house and offices. I don't want to get too political. But the point is that if we go to the actual religions, and the long history of these religious communities, we find that much more overlap, and collaboration and cooperation, then we find intolerance, or violence, or antagonism. And there was

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one particular place in time that I was asked to speak a little bit about that. I wish I had known about back then when I was I dropped the news on my aunt Marina. And that was in what's known as Muslim Spain. Now Spain, is significant. Now, actually, just this morning, I don't know if anybody's following the news. But the United States announced this sort of 10 nation coalition to go into the Red Sea and oppose Yemen. And Spain actually pulled out this morning, I said, Wait a second, we didn't agree to that. Spain was ruled by Muslims for about 800 years. And historians refer to most of if not all of this time period as a common event, Sia, which has to do it refers to the

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relatively amicable relations between people of the three Abrahamic faiths, Christians, Muslims, and Jews. And that's not to say, that's not to say that there weren't ever any issues. And that's not also to say that if we were to adopt today's standards, and go back in time that we would find the same sort of, we would find everything Kosher or everything would square, but compared to Christian Europe, at the time, it was much safer for you to be a Jew under Muslim rule in Spain. And if you were a non conforming Christian, of other types of denominations or confessions, outside of the Catholic hierarchy, it was much safer for you to

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even be a Christian under Muslim rule in Spain at the time, so much so that when Spain was quote unquote, unified, and the Inquisition started, and the first thing that was done was there were proclamations that were issued to kick out and remove the first the Jews, and then the Muslims from Spain. It was none other than the Ottoman Sultan at the time, who sent ships attempting to evacuate Jews out of Spain and bring them to Istanbul, which is why Istanbul, even to today has a very, very large Jewish population. So Tom baozi, the second if you're looking for the reference, he sent his Admiral Kamal race, to escort 150,000 Jews out of Spain, and save them from the Spanish Inquisition

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in 1492. They were given permission to settle in the Ottoman Empire and own land, and live there. Now, that's already a remarkable, but if you go into the text of the proclamations that so Tom baozi, the second issued, the find the justification and the things that he said, even more impressive, so he said that

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he told the Jews he addressed the Jews himself, that it was God's command, to take care of the descendants of the prophets, Abraham and Jacob, to see that they had food to eat, and to take them under his own protection, that they should come and settle in Istanbul, and live in peace in the shade of the fig trees, where they should engage in free trade and own property. Now was his proclamation in 1492. As he set his own chips on his own dime on his own dollar, for no apparent benefit to himself,

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he released a proclamation. And additional proclamations are all of the European provinces of the time, ordering them, not only to not expel the refugees coming from Spain, but to give them a friendly and welcome reception. And he actually even went so far as to threaten anybody who treated the Jews harshly or refused them admission into the Ottoman Empire on the way. Now, when people asked him, for when people were in his presence, and they questioned the wisdom behind what he was doing. He was very, very confrontational, and open minded, or sorry, he spoke, he did not mince his words at all. He said to somebody who challenged him, he said, you ventured to call Ferdinando wise

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ruler,

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He who has impoverished his own country, and has enriched mine.

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Now,

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why this is significant. This is not just about stories from the past and the history books, we go back to the religious texts, what the religions actually teach, we find that this type of behavior from Sultan baozi The second is not an anomaly. It's not him just acting solo. It's not him acting despite sort of what his religion teaches, no, in fact, he was embodying the true teachings of Islam that go back way to the very beginning. There was a story that happened in the very first generation of Muslims. One of the leaders, the caliphs Ali, who was a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

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He eventually after the passing of the Prophet Mohammed

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was the ruler of the Muslims, and he had us a coat of armor that he found was stolen from his possession. Now he was walking through the marketplace. And what does he see in one of the stalls he sees his coat of armor being sold

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by a Jewish merchant in the marketplace? Now imagine if that was you? Today, we have no pawnshops. Basically, right. Imagine you see your watch your necklace, your car, whatever it is, turns up at the pawn shop, you see it right in the window. He say, Hold on a minute. That's mine. Right? You would probably raise a hue and cry and be very upset. i Lee

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took the Jewish man to court. He said, I'm going to sue you basically, like that's my property, and I'm gonna get it back. So they're in court, this Jewish merchant and Ali Ali is the ruler. He's the what we might call the king in English parlance.

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And the judge so it's like, alright, well, you got to have proof. How can you prove to me that this is your armor? No, I'm just gonna take your word for it. And i Li couldn't produce any proof.

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And so even though he was the highest authority, he was the executive of this

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So of this governments and of that civilization at the time, the court ruled against them.

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And they said, We can't do anything for you, you don't have any proof that this is yours, we're not just going to take your word for it.

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It's your claim, you got to back it up.

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And so they ruled that the Jewish merchant gets to keep the armor. And at that moment, that Jewish merchant was so impressed that he said, You know what, this is not normal. I'm gonna convert to Islam. Because nobody does this. Most people, you will find their principles only go so far as their interests do.

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Either when they are low, they abandon their principles out of fear, or when they're on top, they abandon their principles, because now they don't have to stick to them anymore. And our religion teaches Islam teaches that you stick to your principles, whether you're the lowest of the low, or whether you're on top, that you have to do justice to everybody, man, woman, child, Christian, Jew, Muslim, animal, insect tree, whatever it is, you better do justice to that, that person or that thing, because God is watching.

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And it doesn't have anything to do with your position, with your power, or with your status in society.

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And we see how the importance of this and not abandoning your principles when you're on top, we see it in two stories that we share our traditions, both the Muslim tradition with the Christian Jewish tradition, I'll share these at our end.

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One of those stories is a story of Joseph, which is my middle name.

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There's an entire chapter in the Koran named after Joseph.

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And in the beginning of that chapter, God says that his story is the best of stories are among the best of stories, because there are so many amazing things that go on. In the story of Joseph.

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You all know the basic plotline, I'm not going to rehash it here. But one of the important things is that there is jealousy in between justice brothers and Him.

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And God has a plan for Joseph. And that plan is very difficult. He has to be thrown into the well he has to be accused of this and that he sold into slavery. He's tempted and resists the temptation to be seduced by a powerful woman, he ends up in jail, he had to interpret the dreams at the very end of the story. He finds himself in a position where he can take his revenge.

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He's got his brothers and his brothers who wronged him that sold them in the slavery, that were jealous of him for no good reason. And now they're hungry. And they're coming to him for grain and he's the one who's in charge of grain for the whole area. He has the ability to punish them. And what does he do? He sticks to his principles. And he is fair, even if he shows them a lesson and says, Yeah, it's me. It's Joseph and he kind of connives to give their father and the whole family to move into Egypt. He says, He recognizes who is true enemy was and in our version of the of the story in the Koran, he says that the real enemy is the devil. It wasn't you, you guys were tricked

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for a bit by the devil. But my real enemy is the devil, not you, and I forgive you all, and he gave them their due.

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And a second story. Another one that we share is a story of Moses, who by the way, is the most frequently referenced story in the Quran.

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And if you're to go through all of the prophets that feature in the Koran, the story of Moses takes up the most space takes up the most time.

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And is highlighted the most multiple chapters of the Quran, dedicated to telling the story of Moses at different parts or in or in its entirety.

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When Moses is a young man,

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he's raised up in the Pharaoh's household.

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He comes across two people fighting.

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One of the people is from his tribe, children of Israel,

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and the other person is from the tribe of Pharaoh.

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And so the person from his tribe sees Moses and calls on him to help me with this helped me out here, I need backup.

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Moses enters into the fray on the assumption that the person who's part of his tribe is right. He's going to come and help out his brother.

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Lo and behold, it only a little bit of time passes by until he realizes that the person that was from his tribe was actually in the wrong

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and so the same thing repeats the next

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aid, he finds another altercation the same individual involved with somebody else from the tribe of Pharaoh. Again, he calls on Moses for help. And this time Moses says, Ah, I've learned the lesson here. You're the troublemaker. This is an entire paradigm for us as Muslims, truth over tribe. Truth over tribe, you stick to your principles no matter who it is. If it's right, it's right. Whether it's you doing it your brother doing it your tribe member, your, your homie, someone from your gang, someone from your crew. What's right is right, and what's wrong is wrong. So when we look into situations historically, why would the Jews want to go to a Muslim territory and settle? Why were

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some of it? I think Sheikh Murad is going to go more into detail into Palestine. Specifically, why were some of the Christians of Palestine in the Holy Land happier when the Muslims were in charge? Then when the some of the Christians were in charge? Why were the Christians sacking Istanbul, Constantinople on the way to the Holy Land during their crusades? Because in Islam, we have this principle that you stick to your principles, you give everybody a fair shake. We don't just use our principles to get into power then punish people. We believe in establishing justice for everybody. That is our legacy. And that's something that I wanted to share with you today. Thank you very much

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for your kindness and your attention and Maalox up