The following is a short video with my thoughts on the Parkland shooting in Florida.
At the behest of Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda, I’m reposting some thoughts I wrote on Twitter:
It would seem to a great extent interfaith engagement is replacing da’wah (calling to Islam). It’s as if we’re more comfortable explaining who we are than becoming what we’re supposed be. Some of this is undoubtedly rooted in a general malaise in the form of a lack of confidence in ourselves as well as in what it is we actually believe. The vast majority of so-called interfaith sessions I’ve attended have been populated by persons who don’t seem to know exactly what they believe in; a proverbial blind leading the blind. And if not leading then handholding. But when we look to Noah (Nūh), here is a man of God who preached, called people to God, and even wanted the best for them. Perhaps it’s here that the secret is laid bare: many Muslims today feel da’wah is akin to being closed-minded, arrogant, and self assured. That to call people to Islam is to preclude any compassion for them and perhaps, based upon certain previous models, they may be correct in that observation.
When I reflect on my own journey to Islam I find I was not called to Islam through interfaith: I was called to Islam by a man who was confident, compassionate as well as passionate, and uncompromisingly Muslim. His attitude was infectious and played a major role in my unwavering acceptance of Islam. Moreover, he called to The Way without any expectation. He embodied the passage from Surah al-Isra:
مَّنِ اهْتَدَىٰ فَإِنَّمَا يَهْتَدِي لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ
““Whoever is guided is only guided to his own good.” — Qur’an 17: 15
Islam can only be explained so far, be it for non-Muslims as well as believers. At some point it has to be lived as well.
The following is a review and commentary on the new movie, Bilal – A New Breed of Hero, as well as to the reactions of the film.
Middle Ground is proud to partner with Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative and Shop Hilwah for two community screenings of the Bilal: A New Breed of Hero at 7:30pm Friday February 2nd and 1:00pm Saturday February 3rd at the Harkins Theatres Chino Hills. You can purchase or donate to sponsor tickets on our Eventbrite page (https://iebilalscreening.eventbrite.com). Tickets are selling out fast.
“1,400 years ago. Bilal, a seven-year-old boy, finds himself with his sister under the tyranny of slavery. He bears many burdens of life in his childhood from which he discovers inner strength he did not know he possessed before. Bilal knew from the bottom of his heart that he must be brave enough to raise his voice and choose his own path, and that everything is possible with determination. His courage was able to undo his handcuffs and set him free. His strong beautiful voice was a real gift from the Creator, but the voice of faith has made his childhood dream come true.”
Food for thought on youth groups and so-called youth ministry from Mark Oestreicher in his Youth Ministry 3.0:
“I was a true believer in ‘If you build it, they will come.’ It sounds wonderful in a world consumed by marketing our niches to get the desired outcome. The problem is that it doesn’t work. I realize now that the ‘If you’ was all me—not God. God is missing in the Field of Dreams I build. By grace God showed up in the stuff I built, but now I see that what God built is the only thing that’s made any lasting impact.” — Jerry Watts