Avoiding Theological Pitfalls in Political Activism – A Frank Q&A
Channel: Yasir Qadhi
File Size: 42.29MB
Shaykh Yasir Qadhi discusses about the way in which the Muslim community can engage with the public and policymakers on challenges faced by the Muslims and other marginalized people in the U.S.
What we should fully fathom is that seeking, researching, studying and understanding Islamic knowledge is very crucial and instrumental in having a decent discussion with maximum output and impact.
Episode Transcript ©
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hamdulillah Isla De Niro
Al Hamdulillah Al Hamdulillah Al Hamdulillah Camden County Daniella Bullock,
you Bana Masada to
be in Moscow. Well, Kareem, so first shakeout sir.
I want to start with a question. And I want to suggest a precept to you. The precept is this faith without activism is deficient. And activism without faith is dangerous. What does that statement mean to you? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Why? Okay, firstly, second, I want to go to Good morning. If you're wondering why both of us are sitting like this is because these chairs were meant for like six foot seven tall folks, people like myself just don't really fit into these chairs. So it's not as if we're super excited, waiting to pounce on you is just like certain things and hamdulillah
thank you all for coming so early today morning, I hope inshallah so productive and useful conversation. Faith without activism is deficient, actually, from a theological perspective, faith without activity is deficient. In fact, there's even a theological question in early Islam, which people are still debating. Do you have faith? If your faith doesn't impact your actions? That's actually a theological question. Is it enough to merely believe without at least impacting yourself, if not others? And that's a very, very profound question. And the majority of our tradition has said, No, belief entails at least activity on yourself. In other words, it's got to show in your own
life, something has to change. You know, I mean, you know, in our tradition, we have the story of of, you know, Satan himself it release. And theoretically, technically, it believes believes, but he's not a believer. He's not a Muslim. Right? Technically, he believes in God, he believes in judgment, he believes, but he doesn't act upon that belief, right. So essentially, every true believer has to absorb the values of his or her faith tradition, and then at some level act upon them. Now, what level is that? It depends on one circumstances, right? So definitely the ideal is that the believer Not only is able to practice, but also to be a role model also to be an exemplary
example, to society around himself or herself. And this goes back to the verse in the Koran, quantum higher Ramadan, or collegiate leanness, you are the best of all nations that Allah has sat down. Why? Because you command what is good, and you forbid, what is evil, and you believe in God. So notice the levels here that are mentioned, you are the best or the most exemplary, you can also translate this as the role model nation. Why not just because you believe, before even belief, Allah mentioned two characteristics, you command what is good, and you forbid, what is evil verbally, you are being activists. And of course, our Prophet sallallahu sallam, he famously remarked, whoever
amongst you see some type of evil, if you're able to physically change it, obviously, this is if you have authority over that, you know, so if it's in your own household, for example, then you change it, if you can't, then at least verbally try to correct it. If you cannot even do that, then the bare minimum is to not agree with this in your heart, okay, to know that this is wrong in your heart. So here, we have these, this, this tripartite schemata of activism, where you're able to, then yes, like your own system, your own, you know, household, for example, there's not going to be any drugs in my household, there's not going to be alcohol in my household, I have authority in my
house, and I'm not going to allow you know, any of these vices and sins, if I'm able to enforce it, if I can't, if I have a cousin, a friend, Muslim neighbor of mine, you know, and I know that they follow the same fate. So they shouldn't be drinking, but they are drinking. Well, I can't force my friend or my cousin or something. But what can I say can say, hey, you shouldn't be doing that. That's going to be harmful for you. That's the second level. And the third level, if I don't have any authority whatsoever, at least in my heart, I'm like, you know, this isn't good. So definitely, I agree that faith necessitates a level of activism, what that activism is, it depends on one
circumstance and and, and and standing. As for activism without faith is potentially dangerous. Well, that too, is very true because we have to understand as a believing community, as a faith based community, we get ourselves
values from our tradition. And there are times when modernity or society might class clash with religious values. If we're not aware of what those religious values are, it's very easy to fall prey to absorbing values outside our tradition. The Koran itself tells us and this was revealed to a group that were far more faithful than us. The Koran itself tells us it's possible that you love something, and it's harmful for you. And it's possible that you hate something and it is good for you. Why is that and to have wish and well hydrilla Chateaux locum it's possible you want something, and you don't know that that thing is actually harmful for you. And that's why in the Koran we have
and God knows and you do not know will love them wanting to move that to the moon. So obviously, this goes back to the very pre Socratic philosophers, what is good and what is evil? Right, the very fundamental question upon which you know, Western philosophy begins, right, what is good, what is evil? Well, faith based communities, generally speaking, are going to primarily, if not exclusively, depending on which interpretation you follow, get those values from their religious tradition. So activism, therefore, must be based upon an understanding of what truly is beneficial for us and what is harmful. And if we are a faith based community, then that activism has to be linked with the
values that are coming from our faith tradition. Hamza, next question about the prophet may peace and blessings be upon him. You know, would you also describe him as an activist of some sort, and if so,
any particular lessons we should be keeping in mind about his work, as we as Muslims in America engage in activism today, I'm thinking, any specific examples, thoughts that are relevant to us in the work we're doing right now. So I am hesitant to ascribe any modern label as an exclusive label for a profit because I believe our profit is above any particular label that we want to ascribe to him. He is, at the end of the day, an exemplary human being in every sense of the term. I believe these types of terms might potentially pigeonhole him might potentially bring a baggage or connotation that isn't always correct. So from my perspective, I would personally out of out of
respect, not use that terminology, I prefer to stick to terminologies that are already found in the tradition for him, what we can say we can describe much of what he did as being oriented to effect a change in society. Now, if you want to call that activist I understand. So definitely, one of his goals was to bring about a change in society. And I think that's the goal of every good person. It's not just a religious in junkman. I mean, think about it, if a person believes there are so many organizations out there, they passionately believe in a certain virtue, whether it's animal rights, there are people who are, you know, for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, there are people who are
vegan, and they believe it is positive, to be vegan, and they want others to follow this philosophy. So at some basic level, every human being who has values that he or she believes are good, wants others to follow those values, generally speaking, it's not surprising, therefore, that a faith like ours, and in fact, Christianity is the same other faiths are same, they are also wanting others to know those values, and they would be happy if somebody embraces those values, I would caution us to not cherry pick from the life of the Prophet, so I said them and understand it holistically our Prophet, peace be upon him he wanted to bring about a change that is very true. Let's also
understand that that change wasn't just on one or two specific political issues. It was a spiritual change as well. It was the the ultimate change that he wanted to bring about was a connection with God Himself. And I think that a lot of times, some of us who are active in the political realm, active and other realms, we kind of forget that spiritual side. You know, our, our, our tradition, we all know, is primarily focused about singling out our Creator for veneration and respect. That's our Kadima. That's our creed law in the law, and realize that genuine change is going to be associated with that spiritual change as well. So that's fine. We all have our little niches that
we're doing this fine. Just understand that the change that the Prophet peace be upon and wanted to implement was a change of a spiritual paradigm, your ultimate goal and focus is no longer you know, something of transient of this world, it becomes, you know, your Lord and your Creator. That's the one caveat I'd have with that comes off. Very good. Very good. Next question. We've talked a bit about this concept of activism but generally speaking, what about leadership the prophet may peace and blessings and prayers be upon him, was a leader.
Many of us in this room we lead care chapters, we lead civil rights organizations, we lead nonprofits you know, we lead
communities in some way or another? What lessons of leadership? Should we be keeping in mind as we engage in this world around us from the Prophet, or from Islamic history for that matter? That's a very awkward question because I feel many of us and I'll be the first to admit this, we fall short of the prophetic paradigm.
Nonetheless, even if we ourselves are not able to imbibe each and every value, the very least is that we should acknowledge our shortcomings and hold him up to that standard that we we do, obviously have the greatest examples is to lead by his own example. He would lead by example, more than by preaching more than by castigating more than by denigrating, he would lead by example, in his own lifestyle, we all know, the simple lifestyle that our Prophet peace be upon him used to live, he had access to wealth, fame, power, and he chose to give all of that up. And that's a very difficult pill for many of us to swallow. You know, it's a very difficult lifestyle for many of us
to embrace, as well, obviously, the the, the moral impeccability of our Prophet. Again, that's very difficult. All of us have our shortcomings, you know, as well, the spiritual component. And I think that's a very, very paitent weakness in many of us. And I'll be the first to acknowledge in myself, a true leader has to have a strong faith in his God or her God. And that faith has to be manifested in one's religious outlook, in one's rituals in one's prayer, in one's devotion, I mean, this, you really cannot be a following the prophetic example, without following the prophetic lifestyle of rituals and prayer and charity and sponsoring orphans. This is a package deal. So again, let's be
careful of not cherry picking one or two things about the prophetic lifestyle, and neglecting others. And that's, I think, a common problem we all fall into. Indeed, our Prophet was a role model leader, we firmly believe that it's important therefore, that we try to evaluate how close or how far we are from his overall lifestyle, humility. You know, when a person entered the mosque, a stranger enter the mosque, he would have to look around, and he would not be able to recognize who was the Prophet, so I said Him and who was the companions, sometimes we have traditions, he would have to ask, which amongst you is Mohammed, which amongst you is the Prophet, because he dressed
like his people he ate like his people, he lived amongst his people, as if he was one of them, because he was one of them. There was no you know, special distinction, there was no throne that he would sit on, not that any of us sit on a throne. Well, this chair might actually qualify. But I mean, you know, there was no distinct mark that he would have the way that he lived. That humility, that simplicity, I think, and again, if you look at how devoted the companions around him were, that devotion came from the heart, it didn't come because they were scared of the whip. It didn't come because they were threatened with anything, there was a genuine love that came in their hearts. And
that that type of leadership is something that we believe a spiritual folks, this is a blessing from from from the one on Hi, it's it comes from that devotion, that dedication to a cause to a person, you cannot create it by snapping your finger, you cannot purchase it with money, the crack of whip will not get it for you. We believe it comes from the one on the high and when will it come from that person from that being excuse me, when you deserve it? And when will you deserve it? Well, when your lifestyle, when you're when your spirituality, when your humility, when your sincerity is worthy of that then is going to automatically come?
Let me ask you this shake. And we talked about this a bit briefly. without naming names, there have been a few prominent Muslim leaders, who are role models for the community who have really gotten into some trouble recently because of issues in their personal life, here and abroad. You know, when you're on a pedestal as a quote unquote, leader, activist, what have you, you know, you are held to a high standard by the people around you who look up to you as a role model, by a law who holds you to account for, you know, leading people in one way or another. What, as people who are leading organizations, leading communities who are publicly active, what do we need to watch out? For? What
How can we protect ourselves from falling short from hurting ourselves in the broader community? I'm trying to be very delicate with this question. But you know what I'm trying to get out when you were on that pedal. So leadership, we got shaytaan and wants to take us down to hurt everyone. We've got islamophobes who want to take us down, we all make mistakes. But when you make a mistake, and you're on a pedestal, and everyone's looking at you and holding you up as a role model, they can cause some serious problems for the broader community. So without naming names, you know, what do we as Muslim as what do Muslim leaders what should be doing to protect ourselves and to make sure we don't end up
getting in trouble in that way?
That's a very difficult question because again,
At some level, all of us are human. We're not angels, nobody's an angel. That's why we're human beings we all have issues we're struggling with. We have to what do we do as religious leaders, first and foremost, seek refuge and protection in Allah Himself. You know, the prophet use of the Prophet Joseph in the Koran, when he was tempted when he was able to do something wrong. He immediately thought of Allah, He immediately thought of Allah and he said, I seek refuge in You, if you don't protect me, then I will fall short. So I think this goes back to my previous point, every single person whom others put on a pedestal, that person should realize, you probably don't deserve
that pedestal. But if you are tested with being put on that pedestal, you had better make sure that your relationship with God is very strong. That's the number one mechanism this goes back to sincerity, Do you truly believe? Do you truly believe that Allah is watching that Allah Subhana, Allah will reward that Allah will deal with every person according to his or her deeds, that faith has to be in a leader. If it's not in a leader, then you're setting yourself up for trouble. Because our Prophet peace be upon him. He clearly said, there's so many traditions in this regard, that have the most destructive dangers to person, our fame, and greed for wealth and power. These are the most
destructive to a man's are in a woman's ego and pride, fame, wanting to be famous is destructive for you wanting to be powerful, wanting to be to be wealthy, these are potentially the most destructive of all diseases. And when you are a leader, these things are given to you on a silver platter, you can't be a leader without fame. You can't to be a leader without a level of prestige. And generally speaking, generally speaking, with leadership comes opportunities for at least a little bit more wealth or whatnot. So it's a very big temptation. And that is why in our tradition, we are told to not seek positions of leadership. I know this is strange when I teach. I'm a professor at the
college at Rhodes College, I teach Islamic Studies. And sometimes when I bring these things up, or the students are just like, they're just confused, like, What do you mean, the leader shouldn't seek office? How else do you become elected? Like, well, in our tradition, a leader should be chosen by the people from beginning to end like people should come to say, we think you're the one you know, you should do this. And you should want to say no, no, I'm not the best person. And there should be an insistence on the side of the community, we find you To be honest, trustworthy, and there should be a real a genuine reluctance, the more reluctant you are genuinely, the more qualified you are to
be a leader, right? So the more eager you are to embrace leadership, you know, there's a prophetic tradition that he told the companions do not seek leadership. do not seek leadership. Because whoever seeks leadership shall be left alone, nobody's going to help you. Rather, leadership should be nominated from within the community, people should see in you characteristics of a leader, and they should then come to you. And you should genuinely say no, no, I'm not the best person, turn it down and be happy until there's an insistence and an overwhelming group of people come, in which case you should reluctantly, as our Prophet said, then reluctantly say, okay, and seeker put your
trust in Allah, you know, so once the people come to you. So I think, again, the whole paradigm of leadership is so different from our faith tradition, versus others here, so that's the number the number one which goes back to my point of sincerity number two, I think one of the biggest
mechanisms for protection is to make sure that you have what I call friendly critics around you. All too often, people of power surround themselves with Yes, men. Okay, without mentioning names, without mentioning any names or houses or no comments. Yeah, you surround yourself with Yes, men, okay? And you don't even want or you have critics that are outside who literally hate you. And so obviously, their criticism falls on deaf ears because they're already it's very rare to find what I call a friendly critic, a critic who genuinely wants good for you and is pointing out a flaw or weakness is very rare. And when you do find such a person, my advice to myself and all of you grab
on to that person and make sure you're listening to them all the time. Somebody who wants to see you succeed, and understands that you have one or two weaknesses. So if you and this generally speaking is an acquaintance or friend who knows you from before you were a leader, generally speaking, like they know you and your good old days and now they've seen you rise and whatnot. Those are of the best of people because they know who you were before the fame and Limelight and now they see you and they can tell you hey, you know what, this is changing. You know, you your ideals are, you know, not what they used to be and they
Love you they care about you. You know, so spouses, you know, family, you know, acquaintances, colleagues, college friends, these are people that, generally speaking are of the types that are and of course, you can also have friendly critics that you get to know later in life. But I think a friendly critic is some someone whom you should lend an ear to, because when he or she sees you straying from the path, right, because generally speaking, you don't just fall instantaneously, generally speaking, you start weakening, you start opening doors, you shouldn't open, you start wandering down alleyways that will potentially lead to danger. If somebody catches you when you're
not yet there. And they see the slip hamdulillah thank God for that and put, pull yourself back up. So these are the spiritual and then the practical advice that I would give for that situation. choccolocco
Okay, I want to get into a few. When we're out in the community, we sometimes engage in debates with the community about how we're doing our jobs, whether we're doing it appropriately. And a lot of this is about learning, you know, what should we advocate for? And how should we advocate for it? How do you do this work? And so I want to raise an issue with you. And then you tell me what you think. Some Muslims here and especially abroad, insisted we should not engage in public activism. And they say the prophet may peace, blessings and prayers be upon him ordered us to obey our rulers, even if they're unjust, and that, therefore, we shouldn't protest. We should not engage in civil
disobedience. We shouldn't even publicly criticize government leaders so that we can only privately indirectly speak criticism to them at all. But that's all. On the other hand, other Muslims will say, Well, hold on now the prophet may peace and blessings be upon him, said that speaking truth to power to a tyrant is a laudable act, and you know, engaged in public criticism of society around him. Can you address that issue for us? How do we reconcile those perspectives? What what's, what's the truth of this matter? Okay, so let me take a step back, if some of you are wondering what all of this is about,
in our prophetic traditions, in the Hadeeth literature, there are dozens of traditions, if you haven't read them before they come off as rather strange or rather bizarre, because our political paradigm here in America is very different than classical Sunni, you know, paradigms. And there are many traditions in which we are told to obey our rulers and leaders. This is in pretty much every single book of tradition, not just one tradition out there, you know, to hear and to obey, as long as they don't command you to disobeyed. Okay? So if they say something you don't like, by the way, this type of authoritarianism is like in the military, for example, just do it. Okay, just follow
orders, unless the heavy says they tell you to do something that is unethical. So for example, drink or you know, murder or something that's unethical, then obviously, but otherwise, if it's something that you just don't like to do, then the prophetic tradition says, even if you don't like your ruler, even if he's doing wrong, even if he's beating your back, there's a tradition as a Muslim, even if he's beating your back and taxing you to a higher rate still obey the ruler. Now, these traditions first and foremost, they do exist, let's be honest, and they're in all the books of tradition. And they have
influenced Sunni political thought by enlarge.
Without getting into the fact that well, even in classical soon, well, actually there, let me just briefly say, that's one school within Satanism, it's not the only school. And so under ism isn't also the only school of Islam. But even within Sunni Islam, there have always been dissenting voices, we only need to look at the early companion, our beloved is obeyed, and how he interacted with the oma the rule, and how he viewed the dictatorship of the kingship that began. So even within the Sunni tradition, there is a spectrum of opinion about how these need to be interpreted. Firstly, secondly, let's also realize that those traditions, even if we were to act upon them and believe
them, the question is, do they apply in modern circumstances? I mean, can authority without mentioning country names because they don't want to, there's no need to mention country names, but can authoritarian dictatorships can brutal tyrants who do not themselves respected the *tier then expect others to invoke the *ty to respect to them?
You see these traditions? If you were to be a classic Sunni theologian, let's just suppose you're coming within the paradigm of the faith 100% and not looking at modernity, just looking completely at the texts. They actually apply to a legitimate Caliphate like the oma years, their buses, the Ottomans, like a caliphate. That's a global Caliphate that anybody you know who's a Muslim can come and live in that Caliphate and the laws of Islam are applied at a street level at a society level. So a person you know, a person can feel okay, I'm a Muslim and the society is a Muslim society. There is no such modern Caliphate anymore. No
scholar agrees that ISIS is a killer video, it's even gone anyway. Now anyway, the point is that these traditions, if we wish to apply them, they would apply to the ibises, let's say, okay, a bona fide legitimate Caliphate, where maybe even if the Caleb himself has personal sins that they're dealing with, you know, whether it's taxes, whether it's you know, alcohol, whether it's not observing the prayer, that's a personal thing between him and God, but society overall, would be a society based upon the ethics, the ethos, the values, the paradigm of Islam. So in that paradigm, our Prophet is saying, Let the K lift and his personal sins be between him and God, you should not
revolt against a legitimate Calif, because revolting inevitably causes more harm than good. So even if we were to acknowledge the legitimacy of those traditions, and at some level I do, the question is, would they even apply to a modern nation state in the Middle East, or in the far southeast Asia? That's not even claiming to be rooted in the tradition of Islam? And by and large, people are gonna say, no, it's scholars and theologians say no. And this leads me to a very awkward reality that we need to be explicit about. scholars are human beings, they're not angels. So if a scholar of a certain country whose paycheck comes from that country, conveniently happens to quote these
traditions, it's okay to question that person's intentions. There's nothing wrong with that, go to a scholar who's neutral. You know, I mean, if if a person is living within this repressive regime, and you know, I'm not even, I'm not even impugning dishonesty, maybe they feel their life is threatened in that country. Maybe they feel that, you know, they're there, something's gonna happen to the physically harmful. And so in our religion, we believe, you know, when you're coerced to do something, you might be forgiven for doing that. So we should be suspect of groups of scholars, not all the scholarly class of groups of scholars who happen to give fatwas that legitimize the very
systems that they're benefiting from, that's okay. All that we need to do don't just discredit all scholars go to scholars outside of that little paradigm. So suppose one country is undergoing certain issues and whatnot. Okay, we can ask the scholars of that country. But let's ask also the neighboring scholars as well, let's ask all those other countries as what they say, is there legitimacy to this or not? And I need to say also, one thing, which is very, very awkward, I'm not going to answer it even, I'm simply going to ask it. And for us to think about hindsight is 2020.
Let's be very honest and ask ourselves. It's now the end of 2018.
If we knew now, if we knew in 2010, what we know now, would we have encouraged the uprisings across the Middle East?
That's a very I'm not even going to answer that question. Because it's very emotional. I know some of you have lost loved ones. I know your families are disrupted. Some of you are in this room because of what happened. You were refugees here I met some of you. I mean, meaning you, you came. So
emotionalism is a human, it's natural.
If we knew then what we know now.
Would we have supported a Syrian uprising? An Egyptian uprising, a Libyan uprising? I mean, we asked this question of Iraq all the time. And it's very easy to answer because America invaded Iraq. And we say, oh, was it worth it to invade Iraq? And pretty much every person in the audience says, of course, it wasn't we shouldn't have invaded. And obviously, it's a no brainer. Okay. Fair enough. Of course, I believe that as well. And frankly, the sanctions, everything I mean, the the reality is we don't like to say this, but the Iraq of the 70s and 80s, by and large was a flourishing country, compared to the Iraq of the 90s and 2000s. And currently, right, under a brutal dictator, the
country and its people, by and large, lived a standard of living, that is gone now. Okay. hindsight is 2020. Syria.
I'm not even going to answer the question because I'm not serious. I don't want to insult any Syrians in the audience. I'm never gonna answer the question. So here is where even if the legitimacy of those traditions is not applied, perhaps the wisdom needs to be thought about.
Even if we don't believe that those prophetic traditions are theologically applicable upon the Syrian regime, the Egyptian regime, which I don't By the way, I as a theologian, or as a theologian, I don't believe you can quote the prophetic traditions in those instances, because these people don't respect the shediac such that the *ty I should then respect them back. They're not invoking the *ty so the *ty doesn't apply upon them. Right. Nonetheless, there is a prophetic wisdom
and that prophetic wisdom
Dumb is that generally speaking 99 times, not nine out of 1099 times out of 100. Generally speaking, unsheathing the sward against your ruler will cause more bloodshed and civil war than what was before. This is the general rule. Now that one time out of 100, that that's not the rule. Is it worth it? Is it worth the risk? That's the question in every single situation, we need to ask ourselves. But this also explains why some theologians see. And again, I mean, I studied at a very conservative Seminary in Medina. And I know almost all of my teachers,
by and large, would be opposed to the type of revolutionary tactics that are taking place across the Middle East, that are not happening in mic, the contrast in which Assad Arabia.
And I like to say this, for the record,
I believe most of my teachers were sincere. They weren't saying this because of the power of money, because they were greedy. they genuinely believe it's not as if they love status quo. That's the point A lot of people don't understand. It's not as if they are sympathetic to the ruling family. It's not as their lackeys know, it's that they genuinely believe that the turmoil and potential civil war that will be created will be infinitely worse than status quo. It's not that they love status quo, it's that they're worried that the alternative will be infinitely worse. So they are content to support status quo, not out of love. And here's the point, a lot of our scholars that
support what's going on, they don't do it because they're paid. Some of them do I understand this. And by the way, you can tell simply by the language, those that bend over backwards, those that go the full nine yards, you can kind of tell those that are really glorifying, you know, versus those that are like, No, we should be patient, we should, you know, you can tell by the language, if you if you know the theological language, there are those who Yes, they are definitely, you know, propagandists for the status quo. And then there are those who understand or at least believe sincerely, that status quo is better than the potential chaos and anarchy that an alternative might
Thank you. And again, we're going to do audience q&a. So if he wants to follow up on that, we can. The last thing I want to ask before we turn over to the audience, I do one of the things that I think we missed out on yesterday is that people had a lot of questions in the audience. We didn't get to them. So really, if you have questions, think of them now. I'm going to get to you after this question. inshallah. Last question, one of the particularly thorny issues that has come up for Muslim American activists, leaders organizations, in recent years is that many of us are, we end up collaborating with dealing with working alongside different organizations and movements, on issues
on which we agree, for example, countering Islamophobia, upholding civil rights, opposing war. But some of the organizations we work with, we may disagree on some very fundamental issues. I mean, I'm talking everything from we can be working with communist organizations. This issue comes up with the LGBT community quite a bit, you know, you could take your pick of what organization movement is where we have some things we agree upon. And we might have some things that we disagree upon as Muslims, generally speaking. And obviously, this creates tension internally, externally. What does Islamic history what is the prophetic tradition tell us about collaborating with working alongside
groups on a common cause on one issue, where we may have some fundamental disagreements about that group or that other movement on another issue?
So I think the Quranic verses here is very helpful. What's our eligibility with Tukwila to our eighth, Mildred one, cooperate upon righteousness and piety and do not cooperate upon evil and basically transgression.
If the cause is just, we don't care who else is on our platform, the causes just we're not asked to vet people's theologies and personal and private beliefs and adjust cause. If the cause is unjust, then even if all of us are believers in God, then it's an unjust cause. So we are asked that and here's the question that everyone needs to ask himself or so what is our goal? What is our ultimate goal? What is our ultimate goal? Is it to carve out a safe space for us to live in? Or is it to be exemplary role models following the prophetic tradition? The two are not the same. By the way, the two are not the same. What is our ultimate goal? Is it to be faithful to our tradition? Or is it to
live a comfortable life? Those are two separate questions. And each person needs to decide himself or herself what is the ultimate goal each organization needs to decide as well. And for me, personally, obviously, I would say that the ultimate goal is the pleasure of our Lord. That's the ultimate goal.
And that pleasure will only be achieved by being faithful to the grave to the best extent possible to the laws that I cherish and hold true to. And if we truly believe in something to be good for society, or evil for society, then I need to be firm to that in my public and my private life. So let me give you a simple example. Let me give you a simple example. I've given lectures about this in the past the 18th amendment and the 21st amendment of alcohol, right, then it was 1930s 19 to 21st 19 to 21st, the alcohol issue
if Muslims had been around, when the prohibition was passed,
we weren't a large group back then. But if we were around, do you think that we should have opposed prohibition said, Oh, we want the freedom for everybody to drink.
If the repeal is about to be passed the 21st amendment, do you think Muslims should have been active in opposing the repeal? Ie? You know, so yeah. So where should our stance be? Or let me give you another example. Again, we weren't a large community in the 50s, or the 40s. We weren't an active community, there were small groups of us. So we weren't politically active as much as we are now in America. But in the 40s, and 50s, racism was the status quo. Correct? It was structured racism. Okay. Now, let me ask you this.
Would we have been wise to cooperate with racists in order to secure temporary political advantages to ourselves? See, here's the point, it's so easy, so easy to lose track of what's right and wrong, when our passions are clouded. When I give you another example, all of a sudden, you're like thinking a different way. Would you have wanted to cooperate with us? And again, maybe would have been allowed. But is that the long term best solution for us? Is that the best we can do to cooperate with a racist organization or an entity or whatnot for a temporary, positive in our personal lives? Maybe, but is that the only solution? Or is there something else we can work out? Or
let me give you another example? That again, is hypothetical. But just another example. Suppose Suppose, there.
Were there? I mean, again, I'm being hypothetical
adulterers, suppose they were being marginalized, mistreated, there were gangs beating them up or something that's not good. Nobody should approve vigilante justice.
Should we then side with the adulterous society? I'm just saying, the society, the Society of the adult. Yeah, yeah. Should we should we publicly champion, even if we don't want that vigilante justice. So we all agree, nobody should be physically harmed. But because of that one negative, should we overlook the morality of adultery,
and say, my adulterous brothers and sisters that are being intimidated? You are one with us, and we are one with you. You see,
dare I say we have a higher goal than just carving out a safe space for me to live in.
That higher goal is the prophetic example of preaching what is true, commanding what is good and telling. And it's just, it's just verbal, I don't force anybody for anything. But we do have a message. And
the fact of the matter is, people will judge you not based just based upon who you are, but by your close associates as well. So we need to think long and hard, we have to have some really awkward conversations about how judicious is it politically? And how ethical and moral is it for us, theologically, to ally with groups that might not embody our values. And these conversations, unfortunately, are not taking place, to the level that they need to. There's too much emotionalism. There's too much quick judgments from either side. And I do hope that at least in these types of forums, we can have what are called, you know, the theologians and the activist even though I don't
like this dichotomy, but still, nonetheless, for lack of a better term, we can have all of us come together and have some very frank conversations
about some of these very thorny issues. Bottom line, there's no easy answer.
And perhaps some bit of diversity is good.
But one should also understand that clerics and theologians and preachers have a role that perhaps activists should not have. an activist should cut
them some slack. And maybe maybe the clerk should cut the activist some slack as well. But as long as it is within a boundary of theological acceptability, under no circumstance, should any Muslim using the Islamic tradition justify adultery or, you know, drinking or you know, whatever under no circumstance should Islam become dragged down and and and used to justify what Islam itself generally considers an immorality. Thank you. So what I want to do with that was to try to give us you know, something new and interesting and hums, I think you did that for a shake. And now questions Dr. Jones.
And the mic is gone.
And that's what we started at 835. So I think I should get until 935 and show a lot of finished set. Okay.
This is Dr. Jimmy Johnson here, nationals board. So
we know each other very well. Islamic seminary.
I just first of all want to commend care, even though I'm on the board of care for having this in. Because I agree wholeheartedly, Dr. Cuddy with what you said we have to, we have to have some awkward conversations. And I just like to use my question to encourage people to think about it because part of what we've been doing in another session is looking back at history and thinking in the United States and thinking about what has gone on what it has to do with, I'll give a quick example, not the PBS just had on American experience, the a special called eugenic crusades, which I recommend to everybody who's an activist in this country. eugenics is a movement that was going on
the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, and was about improving the race. And of course, we think the KKK and all of that, you know, progressives, were the leadership of this eugenics movement, which ended up being used against the poor, the black and the browns. And one of the people who would support it eugenics was wb Dubois, who is lauded in the African American community, as a leader for social justice internationally, that sort of thing. I didn't know that. Yeah, absolutely. He was one of the leaders. Because I think part of what you're implying is that you have to understand the context in which people are operating. During the early 20th century, the
progressives were saying, we need to improve the human race. And most people who saw themselves as being progressive went along with it. All I'm saying is that we need to think hard and long as you say, even in this context, you know, because I heard a lot of people says we need to join together with the progressives. But we just need to be careful about that. And I think what theologians like you and others can do is for Muslims who are involved in the emotional fray, just to step back for a moment and see what's the long term implication of what what we're pushing at that particular moment. And I'm just agreeing with that, I just think is very, very important to do that. And
oftentimes, we don't listen, because we want with us as an organization, we often respond to the 24 hour news cycle. And we don't step back and say, well, what's the long range implication of that? appreciate, I just want to add over here. So, as the adage goes, those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. You know, been there done that this isn't the first time a new fad comes up. And people think that the fad is the end all be all, this isn't the first time. I mean, the intellectual history is something that it's just a cycle. It's cyclical. Every few generations, something comes along, whether it was Aristotelian cosmology, whether it wasn't we look at Evans,
Siena, right, it been seen as swallowed Aristotelian cosmology, hook line, and sinker thinking that that was the rage of his time. Nobody believes in that cosmology anymore. Yet, for the time, he felt Islam must be backward and outdated, because it's not living up to these, this, this, you know, metrocenter, the the, the the nine, spherical, you know, constellations around the Sun and Moon, and just the entire philosophy of Hellenistic thought for a period of time was considered to be the greatest achievement of human civilization for those two 300 years, Muslim pseudo intellectuals absorbed those values, whereas the mainstream theologians said, No, no, that's not that's not what
their tradition preaches. Right? And eventually, the mainstream theologians went over as you know, the, the famous stories and what nobody knows it and what not. And I think we need to learn from the past that if we truly believe in our faith and our tradition, our values are going to come from that faith and tradition.
Introduce yourself. Sure. simatic greetings of peace upon everyone. My name is ff gnasher. I'm an attorney and a geek and the executive director for the New York chapter of care. So share, I'm going back to what we
What you had spoken about a little bit earlier in the program when we were talking about seeking leadership, and I understand the potential for vices when you are when leadership brings fame and greed and power, but the truth is within, especially within the context, right now, in the United States, Muslims are a tiny minority, and our general community, meaning we are a minority, the non Muslim general community is not necessarily going to come and push us to the forefront of leadership. And so what we have done as an organization, and even personally, and it's not just care, even massage it in other organizations have tried to cultivate leadership, especially within
the youth, right. And so in a way through this cultivation of leadership, we're sending the message, we want you to be leaders, right, and we're instilling this idea in our children, and in the future, that they can be the leaders, ie, they're going to seek leadership skills, is this wrong?
So we're constantly battling between ideal and pragmatic reality. The ideal is, as I said, leaders should be reluctant. And the best leaders are reluctant leaders the best, because they don't want that fame and power. At the same time, as you correctly point out, we don't have the luxury of just sitting back and doing nothing. People have to take the forefront. And all of us took that attitude, especially given the fact that we're such a small minority, hardly anything would get done, you know, many of these organizations, including the MSA and care, and many of these organizations, they were founded by reluctant heroes, reluctant leaders, they didn't want any, but nobody else was doing
it, they had to step up to the plate, I believe that the solution isn't to discard your program, the solution is to always mention the ideal, even as we're struggling with reality. So incorporate these prophetic ideals into the leadership programs, even as you're calling the youth to become leaders, tell them the reality of what a true leader is, and hopefully a little bit of that spirituality will be absorbed into. So again, this is one of the constant struggles and especially living in the modern world, how utopia Can you be how idealistic Can you be? I mean, we're all struggling with this as faithful conservative Muslims in the world that we live in, you have to make compromises or
else nothing gets done.
If we do make a compromise, if we're forced to compromise, let's not lose track of what the ideal is, because we don't want the compromise to then become the ideal. Okay. And I think that's one of the things that is relatively easy to do. And that is to keep on invoking the prophetic model and the Islamic ideal, even as we're struggling and we're far away from it. If we lose track of the ideal, then unfortunately, the compromise becomes the ideal. And I think that is a far bigger danger than simply compromising in the first place.
Good morning, morning. And I'm particularly thankful for your
illusion to the incoherence of the incoherence.
In your last presentation about the Hellenistic influence
in the Jewish prophetic tradition, that I come from the books of the prophets, Micah, Isaiah,
emos, within what's usually referred to as the Old Testament or the Hebrew Scripture, when we read those, we are taken aback by the strong criticism that the prophets had towards their own people and the leadership of their community, the kings, the ruling class, and
when we apply that or try to see that within the modern context, many people within the Jewish community
retract and are afraid of, quote unquote, washing dirty linen in public. This comes particularly in reference to Israeli policy. And with in the Jewish community, there is a reluctance to criticize Israel. Because of the giving support to anti Semites. And recalling the tragedy of Jewish history I've occasionally found within the Muslim community, also a reticence to criticize actions of those claiming to be Muslims claiming to be following Islam because of it's
History of colonialism.
And we don't want to give support to our enemies. And so within both communities, I have found this, this reluctance at times to openly criticize people within our own community in spite of the
Quranic mandate to speak out against injustice, even if committed by those within our own families. And I was wondering if you could respond to that. Thank you. That's a very profound point. And the best criticisms are those that come from within not from without the most powerful, the most authentic voices of criticism are those that come from within. So it is so easy for me as an outsider to criticize Israeli policies. But when an insider does, it is far more effective. Similarly, for me, it is a little bit more problematic to criticize what's happening in Yemen right now. But I do it and I have done it plenty of times, because the very country I studied in is the
one that is causing the famine, the chaos, the Civil War, the bombings, have, you know, one of the greatest tragedies taking place right now, it's very difficult, but it needs to be done. And coming for me, hopefully, it's a little bit more pertinent and relevant and authentic, because there are certain perceived loyalties that I might have had with that entity. So I fully agree with you. And that is why it is so important. Every one of us recognizes the ease with which we can criticize the other. And that's not the main criticism that should be coming from us. What we need to criticize is the criticism of within what are my family and friends? What are my people of my faith community
doing? That's wrong? Because that's the true voice. It's so easy to groupthink, and to conglomerate together around us versus them. Look at those people that listen, I'm a big critic of colonialism, obviously. yet, at the same time, let's be brutally honest here. You know, what, what the West did to Japan, what the West wested to Germany, they overcame that post World War Two, a lot of us in the Middle East and the far south Asia we didn't overcome and let's be honest as well, right? So for how long can we keep on blaming colonization and what they did, and they invaded. And that's, that's totally true. At the same time, they also did those crimes to other nations, yet those nations
somehow managed to surpass what happened to them. There are definitely faults that we have as well. So
all I can say the prophetic ideal teaches us all prophets, not just the judge, the Judaic tradition, the Islamic tradition, all traditions teach us that,
as the Quran says, Oh, you who believe stand firm upon justice, speaking the truth, even if it be against your parents and relatives, for God is more worthwhile to be faithful to than them. This is a verse in the Koran that speak the truth and stand upon justice, even if it be against your own parents and your own family. So I fully agree with you. And I think that's why it's even more imperative that we recognize the faults from within. Because when we criticize those faults, in fact, that criticism, not only is it more painful for us, but actually it's more effective for change. Because when an outsider criticizes all that it does is it reinforces groupthink. it
solidifies the US when the them criticizes, okay, so when I criticize Israel, for example, in all of us, hopefully we find their their policies problematic. It's very easy for them to say, Oh, he's a Muslim cleric, he's this and that. But when a person from within born and raised, you know, in that community stands up and says, No, I love my people, yet I'm criticizing this policy, that voice becomes far more difficult to silence, and it has a greater impact than my voice. And the same goes for me as well when I criticize it within. So I thank you very much for that, that nugget of wisdom and I say that I fully agree with it. And I hope that we can live up to the prophetic ideals that
you mentioned in the beginning.
suta telma either verse 12, or something 135 135 we have exactly four minutes left. So what I want to do is if you have a question, not a comment, but a question, I'm going to let you ask your questions back to back really quick and then let the shake was an excellent memory just answered them all collectively, who knew that inshallah I thought you already had one question that I get. Okay, if I could just get these two new people and then I'll come to you inshallah, you have questions from room.
Question, not a con but a question from
Mike. We can wait for the mic. They're saying.
So Michael, name is Osama Henry, from clearly established. So, question was,
how do you balance the the request or the need or the quenching of knowledge while you're being asked?
It's very hard sometimes to be you know, fighting the frontlines and still building your spirituality and and having some kind of connection with the last panel data. So what is a good advice that you're going to give on that balance? Thank you, sister.
Yes, awesome honey Hanif, the executive director and founder of Muslim Madani shelter. My question is referencing faith and activism. Because faith can be wrongfully used as a motivating factor behind harmful activism. Can one relies solely on faith as something or something else necessary to enact a moral compass to ensure that we first do no harm?
And finally, you had a follow up question.
Really quickly, thank you for allowing me to be greedy. It's a follow up to what brother Jacob said and what Shaq responded to this idea of private versus publicly denouncing something that we see wrong. How does that work with the concepts of sets which is covering for one another? And also, if we publicly do it rather than privately do it? Does it not hurt our unity as an Ummah, especially again, within the context of us being a minority and the divisions really do harm us? Okay, I'm not texting, I'm writing your questions. You got two minutes and Charlotte. Okay. Okay, very quickly, balancing spirituality with activism. This is the earliest platonic revelations fade out photo with
the fonts of what you got a bigger photo of the earliest Quranic revelations. Once you finish doing what you need to do stand up in prayer. So never ever trivialize that personal connection with your Lord with your, your spiritual, your spiritual nutrients of the day, which is your victory or on your side out, make sure like our Prophet advise somebody who came to me and said that, you know, my I'm getting, I'm getting hard in my heart like a spiritual term, I'm getting far from the faith. And the Prophet said, Go find a poor person and feed him and go find an orphan and rub his head. In other words, be involved with the disenfranchised, be involved with the poor, make sure that this is
this is very problematic for us who the higher we rise, the more disconnected we become from, from the very people that we're supposed to represent. And look at this beautiful Hadith when the man comes and says, I think we're getting far from the faith. He didn't say go to the mosque. He didn't say, you know, read the Koran, which we're supposed to do. He said, Go find a poor person and feed him and go find an orphan and wipe his head. Because when there's a physical connection with the poor, believe it or not, that will give you a dosage of spirituality that hardly anything else will to realize how blessed we are, you know, the peace and security the conference that we have, these
are blessings that we appreciate. So that's the first advice also, by the way, where there's a will there's a way maximize your time when you're driving to and from your destinations rather than just listen to something else. Put in something of spiritual value a series of lectures or something, you know, basic, you know, spiritual stuff, theology or Quranic exegesis something, make it a series that you do, as well. I mean, let's be honest here, our Prophet sallallahu Sallam didn't sleep that much, you know, because especially once you've, you don't need eight hours of sleep. And let me just say that, okay, you do not need eight hours of sleep. I mean, we do need to prioritize other things
and that we only have 24 hours a day if you're truly a leader. There's got to be some spirituality, some personal development, some reading, we always have to keep on increasing our knowledge. There's a reason why the first revelation is a thought read read read, never stop seeking knowledge and that's not just knowledge of the religion but knowledge of the sciences you're dealing with. So where there's a will there's a way shank, I've been told we are a hard stop, they're going to come with the hook. So can we maybe have you to speak privately to Dr. Hardy after we finish inshallah, but a minute, one minute? Okay, I got one minute from the boss. Okay, one occasion that I knew I
really want to get to the city issue. I'll speak to you privately about that one to sit at issue. When do we cover and when do we expose? I think there's a very simple rule. When there's behavior that will damage others, there is no covering. If there is a molester, if there's a person who's embezzling funds, that's gonna damage other people. There is no protection for the one who is harming others. If it's a personal device that you discover in a person, may God protect us all. Suppose he has a drinking problem, let's say, okay, that's a very bad problem, but it's between him and his Lord.
So it's not your business to go plastered all over Facebook and social media. You go to him personally or her personally, and you expose personally, and you tell them to fear God and whatnot. But there's no need to expose a personal sin. That's the simple balance between covering up in between exposing and for your question. I'll come to gentlemen and talk to you. Thank you so much, Cody tech beer,