The Distinguishing Trait Of Islam

Zaid Shakir

Channel: Zaid Shakir

Episode Notes

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Islam is often presented by its detractors as a religion that is void of mercy. In this lecture, Imam Zaid Shakir examines how mercy is fundamental to Muslim theology, law and life. He will also present the outlines of a practical plan that allows a Muslim to manifest that mercy as he or she interacts with the wider society. This lecture also demonstrates the fundamental relationship between mercy and unity.

Episode Transcript

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The third speaker this morning is mom's age Shakur, who was introduced earlier. His talk is entitled, mercy the distinguishing trait of Islam

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smilla rahmanir rahim al hamdu Lillahi Rabbil alameen wa Salatu was Salam ala ZD mursaleen Sayidina Muhammad. While early he was he he was Selim to Sleeman kathira salaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh

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hamdulillah. So great honor to be here this morning.

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As you mentioned earlier, we'd like to welcome everyone. And, again, welcome the members of the deaf community and welcome the interpreters for them. We're gathered here by the grace of Allah subhanho, wa Taala and ourselves splendor, the beautiful faces, the beautiful colors, the beautiful hearts,

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and peace, Muslims, friends, who you might have brought along, and perhaps even a few enemies who are also welcome.

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And but we asked one thing of the enemies, please be a truthful witness and tell the full story

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as we assemble here in our nation's capitol,

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on the eve of a day of tremendous national significance, at a time of tremendous tension,

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qualified and characterized by incredible challenges.

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I can think of no other way, no better way rather than to begin this talk.

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After mentioning, of course, that mercy and we can proceed in a very conventional manner

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really flows from our Creator was named R Rahman r Rahim, the Merciful The one who extends his mercy to others around woof the compassionate alpha dude, the loving

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every chapter in the core n, which is the

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expresses the meanings the eternal meanings of the words of our Creator begins with the exception of one with Bismillah R Rahman r Rahim in the name of Almighty God, the Merciful, the one who extends his mercy

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to his creation, and that Mercy is reflected by our Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam. Or should we say the light of that Mercy is reflected by our by our Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam he is the better the full moon reflecting and for the light of the sun. So he is reflecting in full, the light of divine meanings and divine truth sallallahu alayhi wasallam made a piece of and blessings of Almighty God be upon him. And as believers, we endeavor to the best of our ability to reflect that light, the light of mercy and the light of compassion, and all that we do. And it's various implications, but we will never attain to the brightness of the full moon so we describe the stars.

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We describe the stars who still pray God provide guidance in the absence of the full moon. So May Allah tala bless us to be guides, and this is an integral part of our community and to continue to articulate

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along this line is a conventional approach. So I'm going to move away from that approach. We'll come back to it later inshallah, to a more conventional, unconventional approach to the topic, by quoting and I believe, fittingly, as we're hearing the nation's capital, as we mentioned, at a time of tremendous import for the nation by quoting from a great American, Abigail Adams, who wrote to her 12 year old son john quincy adams, a future president herself being the wife of john adams, the second President of the United States, she wrote to her 12 year old son

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After he had gone to Paris, France, and an arduous journey, that actually the ship crashed on the shores of Spain that the walk over the Pyrenees through Spain over the Pyrenees, and on to Paris. She wrote her 12 year old son and john adams, the first American ambassador to France, and we know how indispensable the assistance of France was in general Lafayette. Every city in this country, every major city has a Lafayette Park or Lafayette street in it, or Lafayette Plaza. So we know how important the contributions of the French war and knowing that we know how ridiculous the whole idea of freedom fries are, but that's a subject for another day.

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She wrote to her 12 year old son,

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these are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the column of life or in the repose of a Pacific station, that great characters are formed with Cicero have shown so distinguished an orator, if he had not been Rouse, kindled and inflamed by the tyranny of cataline varies and Mark Anthony, the habits of a vigorous mind are formed and contending with difficulties. All history will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruit of experience, not the lessons of retirement, and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is roused, is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then the qualities which otherwise

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lie, dormant, waken to life and form the character of the hero, and the statesman.

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I began in this vein,

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to say to you, my brothers and sisters,

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both in faith in humanity,

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then now is not the time to flee from the challenges confronting us. Now is not the time to run away and hide from the challenges facing us as a Muslim community, nor from the challenges facing us or facing our nation. Now is the time to be roused, kindled and inflamed into action. Now is the time for the emergence of the hero and the states and the statesman.

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And the stateswoman

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as Dr. Murphy fittingly, could be described, because we've seen what results when the scourges of war, tyranny and desolation are left unchecked.

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Brothers and sisters, let us reflect on exactly what a hero is. No matter how we define it.

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heroism cannot be separated from mercy.

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heroism cannot be separated from mercy, mercy. And our Muslim tradition is defined as the intent to bring good to others, and to cause them benefit, in essence, to secure benefits for people, others and might be the environment or animals to secure a benefit and to ward off harm.

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That's the essence of mercy. And really, that's the essence of heroism. Two things, though, as Dr. Altaf met mentioned, compassion has a bedrock and the bedrock of compassion is mercy and heroism

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has a bedrock and mercy has the same bedrock composed of two things one, we refer to as a thought here, sacrifice or the willingness to expose oneself to deprivation and harm, loss, possibly even the loss of one's life for the benefit of others and ethos, giving preference to others. These two concepts are beautifully illustrated in the way that the ends are the early Muslim helpers the companions of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam made the Peace and blessings of Almighty God be upon him, received on went through when they received the mohajir in or those who migrated to them from Mecca and that spirit of sacrifice and preferences captured in the Quran. When all

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Thailand mentions where you feel Long Island fusi him Hello canopy him kasasa why may you Akasha NFC for hula

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hoops.

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He says that they give preference to others, even though they themselves are in dire need. And whoever can ward off the excessive

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greed and stinginess or avarice of their soul, they are the ones who will succeed. Brothers and sisters, that preference, that willingness to sacrifice for others that willingness to suffer deprivation, so that others could have that became the foundation of a particular type of politics. That became the foundation of a particular type of economics, that became the foundation for the formation of a particular type of society. And I say to you, as we find the infer the the spirit of compassion and the spirit of mercy, the spirit of giving preference, the spirit of sharing challenged in this country and in this world, by a politics of selfishness and self interest, by

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economic policies driven solely by selfishness, and self interest, by societal considerations that are driven exclusively by selfishness, and self insured interests by co heartedness and a lack of compassion, a lack of mercy and a lack of caring. This has to be the foundation of the politics, the economics, and the societal influence that we advocate for going forward. This has to be the basis of those of those realities. Otherwise, we'll find ourselves in a very harsh, a very bitter, and a very unforgiving world, we can turn our return rather to what is a hero. The dictionary tells us that a hero is a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has

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risked are sacrificed his or her life. So you see the sacrifice, even in the textbook definition is there, with heroism. In this sense, all of those firefighters, policemen, first responders, and even ordinary citizens who risked and or lost their lives desperately trying to save people on 911 in New York, and here in Washington, DC are heroes, and they should be honored and recognized as such.

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If we move away, though, from that textbook definition, and reflect on another definition, this definition given us given to us by the infamous or famous, depending on how you look at him, Napoleon Bonaparte. He said true heroism consists in being superior to the ills of life and whatever shape they may challenge us to combat.

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This definition allows room and space opportunity for all of us to be heroes, for if each and every one of us, looks deep down inside of ourselves digs deep down inside of ourselves, we can pull up those qualities and those characteristics which allow us to rise above the ills of life, the ills of society, the ills that are even within ourselves, and to combat and overcome and to rise above. Brothers and sisters, we all know there are many ills in our society. And this is not the time to run through a litany of those ills, or to even emphasize or focus on on them.

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But we should understand that no matter what those ills are in our society, and we can complain about them,

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we can

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dismiss them. We can become obsessed with overcoming them. But if we understand that our truth, that our love, our dedication, our compassion, our our mercy, a calling us to rise above, then as we said each other

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Every one of us can be a hero, john Esposito and Karen Armstrong who will address you later today. They're not Muslims. But they are heroes. Because when refined in this country, so called scholarship being distorted, to defame Muslims to villainize and demonize Muslims, they have found the wherewithal within themselves to rise above that, not to become involved in that, and it's very easy to do. And it's very profitable. People are making millions of dollars doing it. But they prefer to be truthful, and and balanced in their scholarship, and to be fair witnesses, and in doing that they are combating the defamation, the bigotry, the prejudice, and those efforts to stimulate

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and create hatred and enmity towards Muslim, Simon Kennedy, Kennedy rather, of Sydney, Australia. Most of you don't know him.

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But he's a hero. He wouldn't accept being called the hero. I actually had an interview with him on Australian television yesterday, and they'll be here a little later on.

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to document this conference. He wouldn't accept being called the hero. He's a stand up comedian. But when his mother

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in 2001, boarded a flight on the morning of September 11, flight 77. Right here at Dulles Airport. She was coming she was returning home. She thought she would be returning home flying from here, Washington DC to Los Angeles. From there to Hawaii and from Hawaii onwards to Australia after completing a tour of the United States and Canada vacation she had promised herself for 25 years working with the Red Cross in Australia but too busy busy to take that vacation. She retired and had that opportunity. She took that vacation and she completed it and she was on our way home. But as we all know, flight 77 never made it to Los Angeles, and Simon Kennedy, in the aftermath of his

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mother's tragic death, he was encouraged to jump on to the Muslim bashing bandwagon. He was encouraged to join those who were engaging in a chorus of hatred and vengeance against the Muslim community. But he rose above that. And he decided he would dedicate his life to spreading a message of tolerance, a message of understanding, a message of mutual respect for various faiths, races and ethnicities rise Buddha n, who's in attendance today? He's a hero.

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When the ills of life and the ills of this society sent a hate filled violin and vengeful person by the name of Mark Stroman, his way a person who described himself as a white supremacist, a person who described himself At his trial as the Arab Slayer,

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when Mark Stroman relative was killed in one of the towers. He decided to take justice in his own hands in Dallas, Texas, and he shot and murdered two people. One who was a Muslim, and his convenience store a second a Hindu who he thought was a Muslim, and he tried to murder a third person, rice boo Yan. He shot him in the face point blank with a shotgun. But rice survived after many surgeries, and the loss of his right eye, and to this day, he still has 34 buckshot pellets in his face.

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Rise found within himself though after he recovered to forgive Mark Stroman

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and to seek pardon for him. Stroman was on death row he was executed this past July. Rice Wu Yan waged a valiant struggle and international struggle to save his life. As part of his forgiveness for him. strawman himself brothers and sisters as a hero. His last statement after he renounced his white supremacy views after he renounced his hatred, because he was so affected by the act of compassion and grace that was engaged

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didn't buy rice Wu Yan his last statement before his death in the death chamber in Texas, was hate is going on in this world. And it has to stop. Hate causes a lifetime of pain.

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As we said, brothers and sisters, we can complain, we can petition, we can rally and rail against the injustices or we can reach down into our soul

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and bring forward those qualities of compassion and mercy. That all of those mentioned, and many, many others we could be here all day mentioning, have done, we can believe that the forces of the world leave us no room for mercy and no room for compassion. Or we can breathe believe in the promise of Almighty God and the promise of Allah subhanho wa Taala. That good can conquer evil, that mercy can conquer. Violence and vengeance. It five bility here as well as testing we'll have one or two when I say Good and Evil are not equal. It fidelity, hear us and respond to evil with that which is best with good, fair either let the baina kawabe know who I doubt and you will see the one

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between whom he and you there is emnity. And what better illustration than right he's boo Yan and Mark Stroman

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can know when he and Hamid become as it were an intimate friend.

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That is possible. We've seen it, but all of us have to believe it. And all of us can be heroes. In conclusion, I say, if you leave this hall with nothing more than a conviction,

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that your love that your charity, that's your mercy, that your courage that your nobility, that your dignity

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can allow you to be a light in this world, then brothers and sisters, you can be a hero. I'd like to conclude by asking all of you to join me in a prayer that was taught to us by our Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam Peace and mercy be upon him. And that is a prayer that we all become filled and enveloped with light, and all of its manifestations and mercy, compassion,

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love and charity and respecting and honoring justice. Those are all manifestations of light. So repeat after me if you will.

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Oh, god.

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Oh god. Yeah, Allah. Ya Allah.

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Allah. Oh, God, make light in my heart.

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Make light in my vision.

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Make light in my hearing.

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Make light to my right.

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And like to my left,

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make light before me.

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Make light behind me.

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Make light in my nerves.

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In my flesh, in my blood, in my hair, in my skin on my tongue.

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Oh, God blessed me with a light.

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May we all be blessed to be a light and may we all shine that light and our various ways to be a source of mercy, compassion, good. Justice, equity

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and charity in these sometimes dark and perplexing times Salaam Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh