Keynote Address

Yasir Qadhi


Channel: Yasir Qadhi

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The transcript discusses the political and political success of Iraq during the Iraq War, including political independence, political independence, and political independence of Syria. The segment also touches on the political and political independence of Syria, as well as the rise of the " Frankenstein of al Qaeda" movement. The segment also touches on the importance of peace and blessings of God for society.

Transcript ©

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Tip number seven

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thank you thank you very much Salaam Allah minutes of Allah Puja, we began as all religious people should begin by praising God who alone deserves our ultimate praise. And as we have gathered here today on this beautiful Sunday in the city of Harrisburg, and even though it is my utmost pleasure, and I'm humbled to be here, at the same time, I must confess that there's a side of me that is somewhat tired. Why? Because I have to stand here to talk to you about something that frankly, I don't want to talk about. Because I don't find any relationship, and any reason to talk about this particular group or trend, except for the fact that others have assumed that somehow I too, am a

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part of it. I am frankly, somewhat tired to always have to stand up and tell people that I have nothing to do with murdering and bloodshed and terrorism, that just because they have a similar skin color as me, or maybe even profess the same God as I do, that I have grown up my entire life as a Muslim. And I've studied at one of the most prestigious seminaries, and that version of Islam is as alien, and as foreign to me as it is to you. And yet, if for some of us, the calling involves the healing of the sick, for others, the protection of those that need protection, perhaps my calling is to educate, and to explain to others what my faith really is about. So no matter how tired I am, I

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have to always thank God that I have the opportunity to serve, no matter how much I have to travel yesterday, that was one city the day before another tomorrow, yet another city, no matter how much I have to travel, I eternally remain grateful that there is the opportunity that God is using me to educate others about the reality of my faith. So no matter how tired I am, I will indeed talk to you about the subject that I am supposed to. And that is this, this version of Islam, this this radical, modern interpretation that we now call ISIS, or al Qaeda, or radical jihad, or whatever it is. And there's so much to say. And the fact of the matter is, I'm actually a professor, not just of Islamic

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Studies, but also in the International Studies Department at Rhodes College, I actually teach an entire course, a semester long course called Muslim modern Muslim fundamentalism, right. So when somebody asked me, What do you do for a living, I kind of joke and I say, Well, I teach radical jihad in Tennessee. And that's actually what I actually do for a living.

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So I can say quite a lot, but I only have around 3040 minutes to to summarize some of my thoughts, and then we'll open the floor for for q&a. So what I'll do is I'll divide today's talk into three broad areas. Firstly, very briefly, the historical rise of ISIS. What exactly is it? Where did it come from? Secondly, and this is very important, some context about where this is coming from? How did this group arise from the region that arose? What are some of the political and social circumstances that we need to be aware of, and some of this, I'm warning, you might be a little bit uncomfortable, but it is a necessary reality to understand where this is coming from. And then

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thirdly, and that's really the thrust of my talk today. What can we do about it? What is our job collectively, Muslims, people outside of Islam, Americans, the global community, what is our job? What can we do to better combat these ideas? So we begin on the historical tangent, ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. And these days, they've actually calling they're calling themselves is these days, the Islamic State, they're not calling themselves ISIS, they've gone through six or seven name brands, they keep on not liking one name brand and upgrading to another. So the current iteration is is is an extremist rebel group that claims allegiance to Islamic claims

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to be from within the Islamic faith, and it now controls large areas of Iraq and Syria. In fact, probably 1.5 to 2 million people currently are living under land that is controlled by is and is an official offshoot of al Qaeda, its origins in fact, we're the al Qaeda branch of Iraq. So al Qaeda is a franchise, each franchise is independently owned and operated, I could do not so anybody can start their own franchise and then claim allegiance to al Qaeda. That's the way the network is set up. So the independently owned and operated al Qaeda franchise of Iraq, broke away from the parent body, and they then formed the genesis of what is now ISIS. And although the actual places

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And the figures behind it remain somewhat murky. The there's no doubt that many of the people that are now involved in the in the top brass of iOS are actually the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime from back in the 90s. In other words, many of the people that are now pretending to be muslim fundamentalists, at one point in their lives, were actually anti muslim because Saddam Hussein's regime was very anti religion. So the fact of the matter, and we discovered this, even when we captured soldiers, many of them turned out to be from the old guard from the Republican Army of Saddam Hussein, he had a branch of the Republican Army called call the Republican Army, nothing to

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the republicans of today. Or maybe they do but anyway, it says, but he had a he had a branch of the army called the Republican Army. And that actually, we now have discovered many of the top brass are now some of the top leaders have is and that's not a coincidence, because what we learn from this from the get go, is that these people are not religious fundamentalists. These are politicians. These people are not God fearing conservative Muslims, not at all these people are politicians who understand that religion can play a role and what they want to do. And that's really what we're going to keep on saying over and over again. But back to our story is took everybody by surprise,

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nobody could have expected much less predicted a terrorist group to actually form a mini functioning government. Because the fact of the matter is that, for all intents and purposes, is is now a mini state. It has departments. It has a court system, it resolves disputes between members of the public, it has a tech station, it has its military branch, it's actually a functioning terrorist entity. And nobody could ever have predicted that this is a version of a terrorist organization that we have not seen in the last 100 years or so. Because this actually achieved a modicum of political success, a modicum of political independence, even though it's not recognized by any other country.

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But there are many citizens. I mean, one of the most surprising things, of course, was that it captured some of the key cities of Iraq and now even Syria, such as the city of Mosul, the city of Mosul is a is a relatively large city. I mean, over a million people lived in Mosul, live in Mosul. I mean, imagine, I'm not sure how many people live in the Harrisburg area. But imagine more than more than a million and the entire area within the entire area if you put it together.

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500. So imagine the city have twice the size, twice the size, right? There are people going about their daily lives, and ISIS attack Mosul in 2014, two years ago, and they succeeded in conquering the entire city. And you have to understand the people under the rule of ISIS, all your regular everyday Iraqi citizens, there weren't one thing they weren't, they were the ones whose power was transferred from this regime to that regime, and now to is so the bulk of the people that are controlled by is are simply your regular run of the mill Iraqi citizens. They have nowhere else to go, many of them are fleeing. But still, the fact of the matter most of the people are regular

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citizens who really don't have any alternative, of course, is is most importantly known to us for its sheer brutality. I do not have to list for you their crimes against humanity one after the other. I don't have to tell you the number of journalists they've killed. I don't have to tell you the gruesome beheading videos. All of this is something that is seared in our memory via the persecution of non Muslim sects of Christians being forced out of a an ancient religion called Yazidi is that a this is the remnants of Mandakini mannequin is Matt Mandakini. Forgetting defuser, no mannequins, right. So the mannequins were an ancient sect before Christianity, and their remnants

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are now called the Aziz. And they have lived in Iraq for quite literally 2000 years under the Christians under under Nebuchadnezzar, even under the Muslims. And ISIS now considers them to be blasphemers and heretics and they have attempted to kill them. They have enslave their women. These are all stories that are well known to all of you. Now. The phenomenon of ISIS Of course, the Muslim world has reacted the way that it should react. It has soundly criticized ISIS is dissociated from its tactics. The Grand Mufti is the senior clerics of every single major country have excommunicated have criticized ISIS theologically, and the notion that we're are the Muslims condemning ISIS is

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simply a preposterous question. All you have to do is Google. All you have to do is visit your local mosque, all you have to do is to ask your local Imam. The question can be reversed around and said and we asked Where are the Muslims that actually support ISIS? They are a infinitesimally small quantity. The Muslim world has been a

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tremely vocal in its opposition to the strength of Islam. And in fact, perhaps the most public

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way that this was manifested was around a year ago, where 130 Senior scholars from around the globe, these are the senior most clerics that are respected in the entire Sunni world, from Saudi Arabia, from Iraq, from Jordan from every single Arab and Muslim land Pakistan. They came together and they drafted a letter and the letter was translated into all the major languages of the world in English. You can find it on www dot lecture to Alba's daddy. And above that is the alleged killer letter to Okay, you can find this letter over there, it was signed by 130 Senior clerics of the globe. And in America, they chose four people. And I was very honored to be of the signatories, and

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of the people who drafted that letter. And all of our names are on that letter because and this letter, by the way, is a very detail dense theological refutation point by point of everything that ISIS claims ISIS claims that they're resurrecting the caliphate, ISIS claims that they're following the prophetic methodology ISIS justifies the beheading every single point. And this is a detailed jurisprudence letter that actually takes on ISIS as challenges and deconstructs them from within the Islamic paradigm. And the conclusion of this letter is an extremely harsh condemnation of the the leader of ISIS and of the entire organization. This is a very public letter. So the claim that

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Muslims haven't done enough to refute ISIS really is simply not a valid claim. Muslims have been continuously challenging the legitimacy of ISIS. And truth be told, truth be told, there is not a single reputable cleric that has in fact endorsed ISIS, we can flip the entire narrative around and say the fact of the matter is that ISIS and in fact, all the radical Islam does not have a single reputable bona fide certified cleric that has signed on to them. We can go back even to al Qaeda and Bin Laden and whatnot. They're all self taught renegades. They have not trained in the seminaries, they have not mastered the Islamic tradition. Every one of them. The current CEO of al Qaeda is Dr.

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Ayman al Rifai zahawi. He's actually a medical doctor, he's not a cleric. He actually graduated from medical school was a practicing doctor, then he's joined this radical organization, bin Laden was a businessman. He was a corporate magnate, he would construct buildings. And then he joined this version of radical Islam, and on and on and on. So the fact of the matter is, these strands of Islam really do not have reputable clerics of any stripe or persuasion that have that have signed on to them. The only clerics that they have are their own clerics who are not known until they join, ie they become famous because they're part of this tribe. Not that they were well known and recognized

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by their scholarly articles by their contributions. There's not a single reputable cleric that has signed on and joined these movements. In fact, all we have to do is look at the numbers. Muslims number around 1.6 billion in the world 1.6 billion.

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ISIS currently has around 20 to 25,000 people that have signed up to join it. Now the K live has gone global, and has said that every able bodied Muslim is required to join my movement. The Kayla's believes he has God's mandate, the Caleb believes that he's speaking on behalf of God. And he believes that it is obligatory on every single Muslim to sign up and immigrate and join ISIS. People have responded to the call 20,000 people have responded to the call. Now 20,000 is a large number. But let's compare 20,000 to 1.6 billion.

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Do the math. I did 0.001 to 5% of the Muslim world 0.001 to 5% of the Muslim world, to claim that ISIS represents Islam, because 0.001 to 5% of the world have signed on is so ludicrous. Let me give you a simple statistic to challenge that. the Ku Klux Klan, the Ku Klux Klan in America, in the 1920s, when it was at its Pinnacle, had around 4 million registered members. We're not talking about those that were sympathetic, probably in the 40 million, but let's forget about the 4 million registered members. They're getting subscriptions. They're paying the fees, 4 million members of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. And America at the time had a population of 105 million 105 million. Do

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the math. In 1920. The KKK represented roughly 4% of our population.

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Is anybody going to claim that the KKK represents America?

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That the KKK represents Christianity. In fact, I can scientifically say that there is a 3000 times percent chance more that the KKK represents America than that ISIS represents Islam. I can literally scientifically say that because I just calculated the percentages. So the notion that ISIS is somehow representative of normative Islam is frankly, ludicrous. All you need to do is to speak to any Muslim, just go to any mosque, to speak to any cleric. Nonetheless, from my perspective, even 20,000 is too much. And from our perspective, even if I'm from America, we've had probably we don't know exactly numbers, but probably 50 of our young men and women have basically left America and

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joined ISIS. And even That's too much. I mean, even 50, even if there's roughly 10 million Muslims in America, you do the math 50 out of 10 million is even less than 0.001. But still 50 is 50 too much. We wanted to be down to zero. And the question does arise. Well, where is this coming from? Why is this bizarre interpretation of Islam coming forward? And the fact of the matter? And again, I'm not sugarcoating, there's no doubt every religion has its ups and downs, every religion has its weirdos and whatnot. But to be very frank, here, we, as a Muslim civilization have never seen such a bizarre manifestation of radicalism in our 14 centuries. We have never and I'm not sure we've got Of

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course, things that happened in the past here and there, like every civilization, but this type of organization, this type of brutality, of burning a pilot alive in a jail cell of beheading, and putting it on TV and broadcast, this type of brutality is simply unprecedented in the Muslim world. And again, all you need to do is to study history and see what is normative. We have we've had bonafide caliphates, we've had the Umayyad Caliphate, the bastard Caliphate, the Ottoman Caliphate, we've had dynasties across the globe. We've never seen anything as bizarre and as radical as this. So the question arises, what exactly is going on? Why is this happening? And that's where we do need

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to take a step back. And just contextualize contextualize what exactly is going on. Realize that it's truly amazing to compare the Iraq of 2016. With the Iraq of 1967 or 1977 30 years or 40 years, you wouldn't recognize the difference. The iraq of the 60s and 70s, maybe even up to the 80s was the most developed and advanced Middle Eastern country. Its literacy rates, even amongst females was in the high 80s. And low 90s. It had the best health care system of the entire Middle East, the best universities of the Middle East were in Cairo and below that era, these two universities, University of Cairo and diversity above that were considered to be the best. And especially in the sciences. It

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was interesting both that and the humanities, University of Cairo, these two universities were cutting edge they rivaled many universities in Europe, you look at the infrastructure, you look at the amenities that the citizens had, you cannot recognize that iraq of the 17th, with the Iraq of 2016. And there are many photos going around the same streets of the same, you know, the same area. And you can see for yourself this this this, this change that has begun. Well, what happened from the 70s to 2016. Many things. First and foremost was the decade long iran iraq war, which many of us were alive when this happened. Many of us remember this from the 80s, the decade long Iran and Iraq

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War, which dominated the 80s. And of course, back at that time, I mean, the fact of the matter is, we were allies of Iraq, and we were the ones selling the weapons of mass destruction to Iraq. And we turned a blind eye when the very person were selling the weapons to gasses, his own people, chemical weapons have been illegal since World War One. We knew that he had used Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons against his own people. And we turned a blind eye because we're the ones who are basically his allies, and we're the ones selling the weapons do it. And of course, when all of us remember the Iran Contra scandal, we're also selling weapons to Iran at the same time, right? But

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anyway, so that that depleted around a million people in this war, nearly a million people died 10s of millions of dollars. Basically, the economies of both countries are now embroiled in this. And then after this devastating inter war between Iraq and Iran, Iraq decides to invade Kuwait, and of course, Iraq, did successfully invade Kuwait in 1990. We led a coalition to free the small Gulf Oil rich state of Kuwait, and we bombed Iraq for the first time, and we took out its civil infrastructure. This wasn't a full fledged invasion. We didn't send in the troops. Nonetheless, we destroyed the electricity plants. We destroyed the water infrastructure, and roughly 100,000 Iraqis

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lost their lives as a retaliation for service.

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dams invasion. The United Nations subjected Iraq to a almost total financial and trade embargo from the 1990s, up until our second invasion of Iraq in 2003. So for 13 years, there was an almost blanket embargo on the citizens of Iraq, for the crimes of the president Saddam Hussein. And again, some simple statistics here, the average per capita income of an Iraqi in 1989. Before the Gulf War One before the Kuwaiti invasion was around $3,500. Within five years, when we had put the embargo, the average per capita income plummeted to $450, from 3500, to around 450. Additionally, inflation rates went up by almost 1,000%. Imagine if your income was not just have, but rather reduced to one

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10th of your current salary.

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Imagine if the prices of commodities, red water, living expenses skyrocketed. Worse, by putting this complete ban on pretty much everything, we even banned the importation of vaccines, of drugs of water purification resources, and who suffered because of all of this, the people living there.

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Go back and look this up. I'm not making any of this up. The United Nations, the United Nations that was put put in charge of basically administrating this, this embargo had a series of high level resignations, one after the other. in protest, career veterans protested by resigning from the UN, and claiming that this was tantamount to a war crime against the civilians of Iraq. A number of very senior, and I'll give you some names here. Denis Halliday is probably the most senior he hadn't, he was an Irishman. He's still alive, 34 years experience with the UN. And he wrote that, and I quote directly from his resignation letter, that I was driven to resign because I refuse to continue to

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take Security Council orders that I view as sustained genocidal sanctions on the innocence of Iraq, I do not want to be complicit, and I want to be free to speak out publicly about this crime. The person that replaced him was a German nobleman by the name of Hans von Sputnik. Within a year he has well resigned in protest, saying that this was simply a war crime in front of him, a third person resigned, and on and on and on, we don't know what would have happened because another incident changed that course of history. And by the way, of course, here was where the famous remark took place, where the UN estimated that at the very least half a million children below the age of five,

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had lost their lives because they didn't have vaccinations to take care of them. That's just children below the age of five that we know died as a result of a lack of vaccinations. Let's not even talk about adults and other things going on here. Now, what happened after this the tragedy of 911, which shall forever remain seared in our memory, what happened after 911, we all are now painfully aware that certain people knowingly, knowingly linked 911 with Iraq, even though there was absolutely no connection whatsoever. We now know this as a fact. In fact, even our former Secretary of State Colin Powell, has publicly apologized, and has said that his attempt to link Iraq with the

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with the 911 would forever remain, quote, a blot on his record. He publicly apologized because I know this was wrong, we made a mistake. And this is always going to stay in my record for all of basically eternity. Well, I mean, apologies are nice, but it doesn't change the fact that the American public wanted to do something, and they agreed to invade Iraq, yet again. And so we sent him the troops, we sent him to troops. And that opened up an entire other chapter in the history of Iraq, and the effects of that war on our economy, the trillions of dollars, we spent the tons of bombs that have basically devastated the people, even our own troops, and and the amount of suicides

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and the PTSD. All of this is put aside, let me just give you one simple statistic by perhaps the most reputable organization,

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basically on the playing field, and that is an organization called physicians for social responsibility. It's a nonpartisan NGO, it's actually teamed up with Nobel Prize winning institutes. And they have systematically examined the toll on the Iraqi people that the war on terror has extracted for the last 15 or 30 years they have done the the most thorough survey ever to calculate the damage is done on the civilians of Iraq. And the investigators concluded after a number after a number of years of underground research that in the course of the last 12 years and all of this is public. By the way.

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You can Google this institute and the records are all on PDF file that in the course of the last 20 years, 12 years, quote, around 1.3 million deaths can be directly attributed to our wars. And this is only a conservative estimate, and quote, now I want you to understand 35 years of sustained systematic retribution on the people of Iraq, 35 years of bombs, sanctions, troops, destabilization of getting rid of their infrastructure, and on top of that sectarian warfare begins. And that's a whole other chapter we're not going to get into right now. The Sunnis and the Shiites, then start fighting when, when the cat's away, the mice will play a play, as they say, these were sectarian

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wounds that existed, and there were festering for many decades. Well, an opportunity was given for that, that inherent racism, inherent sectarianism to rear its ugly head.

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Is it possible that perhaps, just perhaps, because of all of this violence, this instability, this this this bloodshed, that a messianic radical group can appear from walks that very people and gain a modicum of respect amongst certain segments of that society?

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The fact of the matter is, we need to ask ourselves, would we have had an ISIS? If iraq hadn't been systematically tampered with for 35 years? Would we ever have had this type of reaction, if the people of Iraq had had even a portion of the freedoms, even a portion of the securities that any other civilization have had? And of course, this is where an Apogee very explicit here, please don't misunderstand me. This is not at all an exoneration of the radicals. This is not at all a justification of those people. Not at all. Rather, it's a contextualized. It's trying to understand where this is coming from. And again, because our situation is so dire, unfortunately, I'm going to

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have to give you an example that's somewhat awkward, but bear with me.

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Bear with me.

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We here in this great land, we are allowed to have many races. And there's no denying that there's a dominant race. And there's no denying that there are races that are not as dominant, trying to be as politically correct as I can. Now, statistically speaking,

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we have, of course, Caucasians, African Americans, Latinos, whatnot. Let's just look at the two largest demographics.

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Well, they used to be largest. Now there's going to be a third one. But let's look at the Caucasians and the African Americans. Caucasians are probably what 65% 60% roughly, in most places, of course, that is changing, by the way, but around that African Americans are probably what 15 to 20%. Okay, in the broader public. Bear with me. What are the statistics of races in the prison system?

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you get my point. What are the statistics of races in the prison system? All of a sudden the underrepresented simply becomes the over represented. You guys following me? Now, question. Question. Why?

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Why is the underrepresented over represented in the criminal system? Well, 40 years ago, you could have gotten away by saying,

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it's those people.

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you following me? It was politically correct to say, their culture,

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their background, their skin color.

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Frankly, that was 40 years ago, there are still people saying the same thing.

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Well, I hope everybody in this room is educated enough to not blame the percentage of melatonin in your skin on your dispensary to decry. The brutal fact of the matter is that it's nothing to do with your skin color. It's what has happened to that race for the last 400 years, from slavery, to Jim Crow laws, to segregation to a lack of education, to a lack of opportunities to a lack of being treated like a normal human being.

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The fact of the matter is, any race, any civilization subjugated to that type of background, would have had the types of crimes and the types of of profiling that is taking place. Now, instead of blaming the skin color, it takes courage to take a step back and hold on a sec. Maybe it's not the skin color. Maybe it's what's been done to them for 400 years. My knowledge I hope it's clear now. The religion of Islam is no more or less

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violent than any other religion. Sure we have violent people. Yeah. But generally speaking, their religion of Islam is no more or less violent than any other religion.

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But for the last 1520 years, we have seen the rise of these crazy groups that have been unprecedented in our 14 and a half centuries of civilization. It is so easy to blame the religion, it's so easy to blame the Quran, it's so easy to blame the other. But that is just as

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just as superficial as blaming the skin color of the other in the example that I gave.

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And when you do a little bit of more research, you understand

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that radicalism is coming from political causes, from social causes. And it's being expressed in the name of religion, because those people are religious by nature, they would express anything in religion, the good and the bad is expressed by religion. When you're raising funds for charity, you would use religion, when you're building a hospital, use your religion, when you're defending your homeland, you'll use religion. And when you're committing acts of terror in the name of God, you will also use religion. Religion is not the key. Religion is not the root cause. Yes, it is used as a justification sometimes by malicious politicians. And frankly, these are the people in charge. But

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yes, sometimes as well by the people that join up. Yes, that's true. There are misguided overzealous under educated Muslims who genuinely believe that this is religious. But the root cause is not religion. The root cause are political and social factors that transcend any religion. And anybody who studies that area, and the history of these movements will come to the same conclusion. So and again, I want to be very clear, this has nothing to do with justifying. And I'll tell you a fact that is awkward for me to mention. But

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someone like myself is actually on the hit list of ISIS. ISIS has a public call for my assassination, their magazine, two months, three months ago, and this is known to the Muslims in the audience, I know this, they have a magazine, believe it or not, they have a magazine, pretty slick as well. You don't even have to subscribe. It's free. It's PDF comes you just and it's pretty slick. It's an it's a very, it's an English English magazine a few months ago, because of my very public condemnations of ISIS, because I'm one of the most vocal critics in the, in the English world against them. They actually had a full glossy picture of me with a direct call from my

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assassination. And the FBI had to get involved and whatnot. And I say this not to, because honestly, for me it is, it is a matter of praise that a group like that once made it honestly for me, even though it is frightening, but I am thankful to God, I must be doing something for them to be so angry, I say this now in front of you, so that you don't get the wrong impression that Oh, is he trying to justify? No, not at all? I am one of their most vocal critics. But I don't blame the religion Not at all. I am a believing Muslim, and my God does not tell me to kill people the way that these people kill people. That's not my holy book. That's not my tradition. That's not my

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experience whatsoever. So where is this coming from? When you get to that question, all of a sudden, the response is not that easy. And you do have to take a long look in the mirror and understand when you tinker with entire civilizations, when you support dictators in depose that will when you bomb when you invade when you when you when you You know what? terrorism breeds terrorism. And violence breeds violence. That is the fundamental reality of any human civilization, whether they're Muslim or agnostic or atheist, or Christian. And when we understand that, then all of a sudden, it does become a little bit more clear what exactly is going on. So that's a bit of a context. Now we get to

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really the main point of my talk, what needs to be done, what should be done about the rise of ISIS. The fact of the matter is, as an American Muslim cleric, really, I have a very unsavory job. Because on the one hand, as a Muslim, I need to point out to my fellow Muslims across the globe, that what ISIS is doing is an Islamic, it's counterproductive. It's against the religion. And in the process, I earned the ire of ISIS itself.

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And on the other hand, as an American, I also have to point out the effects of our tinkering in that region. And that's also awkward because then I get hatred and anger from the other side. And while it is very true that ISIS has issued death threats against me,

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the fact of the matter is that groups have issued death threats against me before ISIS. The first groups to issue death threats against me

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With the far right militias of our own left,

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and they still have a sustained campaign to get me fired from Rhodes College, because they claim that I am in fact, a secret member of al Qaeda. That's their claim. And they have their tactics and their whatnot and I am on their hit list sometimes, literally. And other times, figuratively, they want me to get me fired and to get me expelled or whatnot, which is ridiculous. I'm a born American citizen. I was born in Texas, but I'm still The point is that they have their their version of what a utopian America would be. And I'm not a part of their vision of America. So the point is someone like me, I have this awkward middle ground where I have to point out the radicals on both sides, and

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have to criticize the radicals on both sides. But still, I'm not going to lose hope. And I'm going to say that there's things that all of us need to do. There's things that all of us need to understand when it comes to fighting such radical groups. First and foremost, Americans need to understand that we American Muslims are not your enemies. We're not supporters of ISIS. We're not a hidden fifth column. Quite the contrary, we are not only your friends and allies, we are your best line of defense against those radicals who have hijacked our religion before they've hijacked anything else. Rather than being worried about your Muslim neighbors, your local mosques, you need

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to understand that American Muslims suffered doubly, if not Tripoli, more than non American Muslim anonymous Americans. Why so How so? Because Firstly, we're in the audience. We're in the crowd, we're in the towers when they come crashing down. 70 Muslims lost their lives on 911, one of the people shot in San Bernardino was a Muslim. They don't discriminate when they kill, they kill everybody. And we are a part of America. So when they target America, they are targeting us as well.

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Secondly, we have to worry about the backlash. We heard. I'm sorry, I don't know your name. Tiffany, we heard Miss Tiffany very eloquently very eloquently pointed out the fear that she had, when somebody said the perpetrators of 911 were Chinese. Do you know and I don't every Muslim here speaks on exactly what I'm going to say. Every Muslim here knows exactly what I'm going to say. Every time a shooting takes place. Every time a bomb takes that goes off, every time somebody is caught. Do you know the first thought that comes to our head? Please, Oh, God, let it not be.

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And that should not be our first thoughts. That should not be our first response. But the fact of the matter is, we are terrified that another act is going to take place in our faith with our name with our religion.

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And we have didn't suffer the backlash, the fear, the paranoia, the looks, the being pulled aside in the airports, the harassment that we get on the streets, and every Muslim here knows personally, stories that have taken place to them, my own wife and children multiple times, this is the reality, you cannot mean that you cannot hide from this. That's not what America is about. But that's what it's become. So we as American Muslims are more terrified of a terrorist attack than non Muslim Americans, because we're going to suffer doubly. So please understand that American Muslims are not your enemies or potential fifth column, we are your first line of defense and your best allies.

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Therefore, this leads me to my second point, all of us, we need to work together to stop this narrative of us versus them. We need to work together to stop the bigots from rising up in both sides ranks. I mean, let me be honest here this is this is election season. I don't want to mention names, but enough is going to be said you get the point here. Do you not see the rise of of

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without mentioning names?

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Interesting hairstyles.

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Do you not realize that people of this nature could never have been popular 15 years ago, 20 years ago, never in our wildest dreams? Could we have ever seen somebody who's so Renegade, such a misogynist, such a bigot, such as xenophobe, one hairs with the weight from becoming president of this country? Now? Why is this happening? Because Americans themselves are somewhat terrified. And when you're terrified, you will do things that are atypical, if we can understand that the rise of Mr. So and so is because of the rather miniscule terror that Americans feel is it not possible to extrapolate that if a civilization felt a million times more terrified, literally with civil war and

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bombs and whatnot, perhaps a messianic, you know, radical jihadist group could rise from their ranks. We see the beginnings of this in our own very land. It's nothing to do with that.

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The people with the civilization with America with Christianity, when people are scared, when people are terrified when they're terrorized, they're going to respond in a typical manners. That's the reality of human history. So when we support this narrative of us versus them, when people like this particular politician, pseudo politician,

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building magnets will becomes like his a building magnet as well. By the way, irony, there are many over there unintentional irony, when a person like this becomes the most popular presidential candidate rich color party, you know what happens? It feeds into the narrative of ISIS, it feeds into their narrative of us versus them. When he publicly says, I don't want any more Muslims coming in, we need to put a ban on all Muslims. You couldn't have a better PR for ISIS than this particular candidate. Because one a 1718 year olds on defense, American Muslim, he's wondering, should I go this way, that way, rhetoric that is coming from this individual is going to push him to the side of

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radicalism. It's not a justification. Just understand, though, you're feeding into that narrative. And the irony is, the radicals on both sides feed off of each other, they need each other to be popular. It's not a coincidence that ISIS in its latest video actually has a clip from this presidential candidate in its recruitment video. I mean, the irony is simply mind boggling. In their recruitment video, they have that 22nd clip from this individual where he berates the entire Muslims where he says that and the message is very clear, oh, Muslims, you cannot be a part of this civilization, they don't want to come join over our site. If fair minded level minded people on both

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sides don't join hands, and drown out the bigots on their sides, the bigots are going to win. So the second point is that we need to drown out the bigots on all of our sides, we need to stop this narrative of us versus them. The third, the third point that we need to do is that once we understand, once we understand

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what feeds this narrative, our political grievances, and not religious texts, then Believe it or not, we need to encourage our youth to be more free to express their thoughts. Now, I'm going to tell you something that perhaps many of our non Muslim guests don't don't understand or know that the notion that mosques breed radicalism and terrorism is actually proven to be false.

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terrorism and radicalism thrives online.

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That's where people turn radical in forums, internet chat rooms, that's where radicalism takes place. There is no mosque in all of America that preaches radicalism. Quite the contrary, mosques are so terrified to speak about politics, that it is the most apolitical place in any city is going to be inside the mosque. And my point is that that is a mistake. Because what happens is when this 19 year old kid comes, and he's angry about whatever foreign policy this and that drones bombing Guantanamo, the reality is the mosque shuts him off. The mosque gets terrified of such rhetoric. And every Muslim here knows this very well. We don't typically allow that type of talk, because we're

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scared because of the FBI informants because of what's happened, because we're just terrified ourselves. So we just shoot this person, or we don't talk about this or whatnot. Well, then if we're not going to talk about it, where is this kid gonna go?

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If we're not going to talk about it, who else is talking about it? radical clerics? They're the ones that are propagating this message of Oh, look at these children kill, look at these drones that have caused this, look at Guantanamo, look at this, look at that. And their narrative is one of ultimate persecution over and over and over again.

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So if we are not going to allow political dissent,

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and we're not going to hear the the the necessary conversations from our own, and we're going to be scared of challenging that rhetoric publicly. Because what's happening is, and again, that's the whole point of my talk here. What's happening is to publicize the grievances of these groups is tantamount in the eyes of some to siding with them. And that is a wrong narrative. I can be angry at many things. That doesn't mean I'm going to go and kill people about it. I can be hurt at what's happening in Palestine without being sympathetic to suicide bombers. It's not a black and white here. We have to have the courage collectively, to stand up and allow what the First Amendment

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allows which is freedom of expression. Let that 19

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Your old kid, let him spout his anger, let him get it out. And then let me come or another person come and challenge him, challenge him intellectually not silencing. But what happens? another reality. When this kid does begin to speak like this, he gets to the attention of law enforcement sometimes. and law enforcement then sets up an elaborate trap. And this is a common thing, again, Google, this is a TED talk about,

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about how the FBI is so good at catching its own terrorist because 97% of the Islamic terrorists that have been caught 97% are actually terrorist plots that are created by the FBI, he, this 19 year old kid is spouting rhetoric on the internet. So the FBI arranges a plot, basically, you know, the in the entrapment thing, you know, the entrapment thing I mean, it's a long story here, the Muslim committees has spoken about this many, many times. And we do not agree with this policy. A 19 year old kid who's talking like this deserves some help, doesn't deserve to go to prison, he needs to be challenged, and he needs to be taken to a cleric and whatnot, he doesn't need to be set up and then

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thrown in jail for life that really hurts the community, and you lose the trust of the community. And we don't do this to other communities. But the point is that what's happening is that we're criminalizing dissent. We don't even have an open conversation about our own policies, and what happens when our policies are effective. In other words, it's taboo to even talk about, and that's a mistake, because it's not going to solve our problems. Because what happens is, the solution only becomes more bombs, more terror, more invasion, more torture, and all of us in this room are old enough to remember al Qaeda, whereas al Qaeda now it's gone. Do you know why? Because ISIS is the

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Frankenstein of al Qaeda. We thought we'd get rid of al Qaeda, by bombing to more countries by killing a million people. Guess what happened? We got rid of al Qaeda, instead, we have ISIS now. Do we really not learn from our own history? Do we really think invading more lands, bombing other lands, throwing more tons are actually going to bring about any benefit, that's not going to bring about a solution. You know, what we'll drinking some genuine peace to those lands, some genuine stability to those regions, letting them be human beings, rather than always viewing them as enemies and bombing an invasion. They don't want anything other than what we want. And that is to take care

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of themselves and their children to live comfortable lives. But they haven't had that opportunity for three and a half decades. What's going to happen? Well, the rise of radicalism. So the third point we need to do is we need to encourage not just our young men and women who might be flirting with radicalism, but even amongst ourselves to have an open conversation about the impact of what is our responsibility as a superpower? What is our responsibility as the global force in the world today? And how ethical are our own foreign policies at some stage, after all the condemnation after all their criticism at some stage, we're going to have to have that conversation, no matter how

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awkward it is, because history has shown us that until we get to the root cause of the problem, we're not going to solve this issue of more radicalism and terrorism. So to conclude, a lot of a lot of work needs to be done. Muslim clerics like myself, yes, we need to keep on stressing the realities of mainstream normative orthodox Islam, we need to keep on understanding that the religion does not and cannot allow for such violence, no matter what the grievances are, that's my job as a Muslim cleric. We need to always point out that the religion of Islam does not tolerate the killing of innocence. And that's not what we are about. As well as a society, we need to be frank and say,

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peace will not be achieved by more bombs, by more invasions by more drones, by more support of dictators, we have a lot of work to do, each one of us can carve out a niche to do that work. And we have a lot of work to do. And perhaps we might disagree on on many issues. Perhaps you might disagree on the the minutiae of the tactics, but American Muslims and American non Muslims, when it comes to fighting against radicalism of all types, we need to be on the same side of the battle, we need to be on the same page together. And instead of spreading hatred and fear of the other, instead of feeding into the xenophobia and bigotry, we're going to have to learn to work together, we have

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to understand that we don't have to agree about each and every issue of theology, even of politics, in order to want a better society for our children, all religions, every person wants a peaceful world for himself and his children. If we can stop looking at the other as an enemy, and understand that what unites us as human beings is far more than what divides us. If we can just begin with that one step, then I think that we have accomplished the most important step to bring

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About genuine peace in the world. May God bless all of us to help bring about that peace in ourselves, in our lands, in our societies and in the globe, made the peace of blessings of God be upon you with salamati compartments allotted for Baraka