#MiddleGroundPodcast – Isra & Mi’raj: A New Hope


[Direct download]

a’ra’ja/ya’ruju and a’ri/ja/ya’raju: one means to ascend, the other to limp or hobble along.

Mi’raj was an uplifting (lit.) event at a time when the Prophet would experience great emotional loss and hardship:

  1. the death of his uncle Abu Talib (who shielded his nephew from the Makkans who sought to harm him) and
  2. his wife of nearly a quarter century, Khadijah, may Allah be pleased with her.

Think about all of the things that the Prophet saw on Mi’raj: Jibril, the Prophets, etc. All these miraculous things before his very eyes and yet what is it that Allah orders His prophet to do upon returning from Mi’raj? Leave Makkah. Leave his home. But not just leave his ancestral home for nothing: build a new home. Build the City of the Prophet: Madinah al-Nabi.

The Prophet, after having seen things, experienced things which leave no doubt in the mind and the heart, set out to make a new home with others. Mi’raj imbued the Prophet with an even stronger conviction in the belief in Allah. That conviction and belief mandated he bring others together: conviction in God brought about unity, not division.

يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقاتِهِ وَلا تَموتُنَّ إِلّا وَأَنتُم مُسلِمونَ

وَاعتَصِموا بِحَبلِ اللَّهِ جَميعًا وَلا تَفَرَّقوا ۚ وَاذكُروا نِعمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيكُم إِذ كُنتُم أَعداءً فَأَلَّفَ بَينَ قُلوبِكُم فَأَصبَحتُم بِنِعمَتِهِ إِخوانًا وَكُنتُم عَلىٰ شَفا حُفرَةٍ مِنَ النّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِنها ۗ كَذٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُم آياتِهِ لَعَلَّكُم تَهتَدونَ

وَلتَكُن مِنكُم أُمَّةٌ يَدعونَ إِلَى الخَيرِ وَيَأمُرونَ بِالمَعروفِ وَيَنهَونَ عَنِ المُنكَرِ ۚ وَأُولٰئِكَ هُمُ المُفلِحونَ

Hope

Just when things seemed bleak, Allah made a way out for the Prophet. But it wasn’t all milk and honey. He lost his wife, his uncle. But because he was hopeful, he gave so many others hope and brought so much good to the world.

For other khutbahs and podcasts, see the Middle Ground Podcast.

How Our Freedoms Come At The Cost Of Others

Why do some folks “hate us for our freedom”? As ridiculous as the statement is, it’s even doubly ridiculous in that “why” is never posed to this question. While I’m reserved in giving simple explanations to complex issues, I do feel we, as Americans, are often negligent in recognizing that many of our so—called “freedoms” come at the expense of others. White supremacist-, “MAGA”-, alt-Right Trump supporters often espouse their hate for immigrants, particularly of the brown and poor varieties, but they too lack the courage and the honesty to ask, “why are so many coming here to work?” or, “Why have their economies failed?”. Many will offer an even simpler and more dehumanizing rebuttle that they — poor and brown-skinnedimmigrants — ought to go back to their respective countries and fight or sacrifice to make them great, as supposedly Americans did (or allegedly stiil do) in the country’s infancy. But these racist and historically inaccurate summaries simply don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Rob Dunn, in his new book, “Never Out Of Season”, reminds us why so many people, from locations such as Central America, are coming here to work: because we sabotaged their economies. Dun relates,

“Elected in 1950, Jacobo Arbenz was Guatemala’s second democratically elected leader. He proposed to redistribute abandoned banana land to poor farmers in the country and paid United Fruit Company twice what it had paid for the land. Arbenz believed that this would be the first step in creating a better country for his people, a democratic country. The United Fruit Company had other plans. Its leaders persuaded the US government to authorize the CIA to overthrow Arbenz as part of Operation PBSUCCESS. The director of the CIA, Allen Dulles, and the secretary of state, his brother, John Foster Dulles, were both friends of executives of the United Fruit Company. They had even done legal work for the company earlier in their careers. The Dulles brothers helped to convince president Dwight D. Eisenhower of the need to overthrow Arbenz. It was a secret and, from the perspective of the United States, successful coup. As a result, Guatemala’s democracy slid into decades of military dictatorship and a brutal civil war. That war would cost the lives of more than two hundred thousand Guatemalans, many of them at the hands of government security forces. The coup also set back democracy in other countries in which the United Fruit Company wielded power. However one attributes blame for these horrors, they, too, are part of the story of the Gros Michel banana.”

Perhaps the resentment that America earns is not quite so irrational as we’ve been led to believe. Dunn’s work makes you look at the breakfast fruit we all so innocently enjoy every morning in a diffent light.

Notes

Dunn, Rob. Never Out Of Season: How Having the Food We Want When We Want It Threatens Our Food Supply and Our Future. New York. Little, Brown and Company. 2017.

The Value of One Life – What Is It In Western Civilization?

مِن أَجلِ ذٰلِكَ كَتَبنا عَلىٰ بَني إِسرائيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفسًا بِغَيرِ نَفسٍ أَو فَسادٍ فِي الأَرضِ فَكَأَنَّما قَتَلَ النّاسَ جَميعًا وَمَن أَحياها فَكَأَنَّما أَحيَا النّاسَ جَميعًا ۚ وَلَقَد جاءَتهُم رُسُلُنا بِالبَيِّناتِ ثُمَّ إِنَّ كَثيرًا مِنهُم بَعدَ ذٰلِكَ فِي الأَرضِ لَمُسرِفونَ

It was for the sake of that crime that We made it a principle for the Children of Israel that if anyone took a life — unless it be to punish a murder or to prevent the spread of chaos in the land — that it would be as if he had murdered the whole of humanity. Conversely, if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he had saved the life of the whole of humanity. However, even though Our messengers came to them with clear evidence of the truth — even after that — many of them continued to commit abuses in the land.Qur’an, 5: 32

I ask this question: “What does one life mean for us now?” Some may assume I ask this antagonistically as if — because I’m Muslim — I have some undying criticisms of the West, or more simply, I harbor ill will towards the West. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as I, all of my family, and my daughter, are all members of the West. I ask it because I wish for the West to be better: better tomorrow than yesterday. I say this to myself as well as to my fellow Muslims: we’re going to have to move beyond non-stop criticisms (which is not the same as being critical of) of the West and try and contribute to its much-need revival.

On April 10th, Cedric Anderson murdered Karen Smith as well as 8-year old Jonathan Martinez. Shortly thereafter, Steve Stephens murdered 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr., live, on Facebook. And then today, Kori Ali Muhammad appears to have murdered three white men because he felt there was a brewing race war. Stereotypically, Muhammad’s case is still under review as to whether it’s “terrorism” or not. But seriously, who cares? There’s a five-person body count; five people who are no longer here due to no fault of their own. I find myself unable to just get back to “business as usual”. This is not usual. This level of crime, killing, and indifference to human life is no usual. Is this the fate (and unintended consequence) of Facebook and our selfie culture? We have to not go back to business as usual but stop … arrest ourselves, arrest our movement, process what life means in western civilization. Does a person’s life have value anymore? Two lives? Three lives? Five lives? If it does, then when, where, and how shall we make this manifest again? We desperately need a return to meaning, one rooted in the transcendence that there is a God, that God cares about the affairs of humans, put in them indelible value because God created them, and we will be held accountable for our actions. Taking lives and then taking our own is no escape from the heinous crimes we commit against one another. We will face the consequences we reap. May God guide us all.

What Is Western Civilization Now?

وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَيَأْتِيَنَّ عَلَى النَّاسِ زَمَانٌ لاَ يَدْرِي الْقَاتِلُ فِي أَىِّ شَىْءٍ قَتَلَ وَلاَ يَدْرِي الْمَقْتُولُ عَلَى أَىِّ شَىْءٍ قُتِلَ

By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, a time will most certainly come when the murderer would not know why he has committed the murder while the victim would not know why he has been killed.Prophet Muhammad,
related by Abu Hurayrah – recorded in Sahih Muslim, #2908

What is western civilization? Does it mean that not only can one be the victim of a senseless crime, but even our elderly will have their demise live streamed on the internet? Robert Godwin, a 74-year-old elderly man, was approached by Steve Stephens in broad daylight and executed whilst being filmed on Facebook’s new live streaming feature, Facebook Live.

Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

I cannot sleep. There comes a point where the violence can’t be shrugged off; the cynicism cannot wash away the blood. We live in a civilization of terror.

Eventually We All Go Home

My brother texted me this morning to inform me that guitar legend Allan Holdsworth had passed. I grew up listening to Holdsworth, one of the influences on my brother’s playing. Later I queued up Holdsworth’s Metal Fatigue, the track entitled Home. It reminded me of that ultimate reality we Muslims remind ourselves regularly:

إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون

“To God we belong and to God we are returning.”

In other words, we all go home at some point.