Are You Coachable – A Khutbah

al-Hamdulillah, today was the first khutbah (sermon) delivered at Middle Ground Muslim Center. The summary was, “are you coachable”? Can you learn from a master? Can you submit yourself to a process? When we explore piety, devotion, and self improvement, often we’re handed various litanies (dhikrs, du’as, etc.) that for many of us after a time (especially if we’re not improving) feels a bit like Harry Potter. In this khutbah I tried to draw parallels to learning from a coach, in how we might learn from the Qur’an and from the Prophet.

“It was at that point that it was a decision: am I either going to trust my coach, who has put out umteen number of great players besides myself, or am I going to rely on my own ego.”

Full notes and audio here.

Muslim-Americans and the Need to Establish Deep Roots

In a phone conversation today with Dr. Sherman Jackson we exchanged thoughts on Andalus (Muslim Spain) and that despite its architectural beauty, it was unable to firmly establish roots such that, when the tide of adversity came at them, they were washed away. This is in comparison to the Muslims in the former Soviet Republic, who also faced tremendous brutality, but once that tide washed back out, the Muslims came back and their identity was still intact.

Muslim-Americans and deep roots (part I):

A video posted by Marc Manley (@sonofpierre) on

Muslim-Americans and deep roots (part II): A video posted by Marc Manley (@sonofpierre) on

Muslim-Americans and deep roots (part III):

A video posted by Marc Manley (@sonofpierre) on

Muslim-Americans and deep roots (part IV): A video posted by Marc Manley (@sonofpierre) on

Muslim-Americans and deep roots (part V):

A video posted by Marc Manley (@sonofpierre) on

Muslim-Americans and deep roots (part VI): A video posted by Marc Manley (@sonofpierre) on

Muslim-Americans and deep roots (part VII):

A video posted by Marc Manley (@sonofpierre) on

Food for thought.

Bridging The Credibility Gap – A Message to Muslim-American Leadership

At the recent CAIR LA banquet, Dr. Sherman Jackson made a speech in which he really hit to heart of the matter so many of us Muslims in America, and other parts, are really struggling with: the credibility gap. This gap is what prohibits us to be able to distinguish ourselves from the likes of ISIS, al-Qaeda, or any other group or individuals who happen to act in the name of Islam with which we find disagreeable, reprehensible or even barbaric. It is this credibility gap which leaves us on the defensive like the man who is asked if he still beats his wife: if he says no, he admits that he did so in the past; if he says yes, he admits his guilt. Either way, he’s damned if he does or doesn’t.

Take a listen to the short audio clip in which Dr. Jackson summarizes this credibility gap:

“Some images that have been produced about me come between you and me … and so rather than your ability to hear, contemplate, internalize the words that I’m saying, those images come in between us, and they degrade your faculty of human encounter.” — Dr. Sherman Jackson

[Direct download]

Amongst many salient points that evening, Dr. Jackson has also highlighted the need for Muslim leadership, whatever form it may take, get out ahead of this crisis and become credible themselves. We denounce non-Muslims who write and or say whatever they wish about Islam, even going to “the sources themselves (Qur’an, fiqh, etc.)” to prove their points, yet many of us lack credentials and even work to subjugate the broad intellectual tradition of Islam under our own personal agendas. In the end, these leaves the Muslim community woefully uninformed and illiterate of their own religion and tradition. So how can we ask non-Muslims to separate the wheat from the chaff of what is and is not representative of normative Muslim thought, morals and ethics, if we ourselves are not committed to higher standards of integrity and scholarship. Until this issue is resolved no amount of distancing or apologizing will remove the collective guilt that all of us are laboring under. May God grant us guidance, mercy and unity.

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

“Hold fast to the rope of Allah all together, and do not separate. Remember Allah’s blessing to you when you were enemies and He joined your hearts together so that you became brothers by His blessing. You were on the very brink of a pit of the Fire and He rescued you from it. In this way Allah makes His Signs clear to you, so that hopefully you will be guided.” — Qur’an, 3: 103

Keepin’ It One Hunned – Thoughts on Imam WD, Muslim Leadership the Lack of Human Capital

On a recent trip to Nashville where I was asked to speak on Muslims and social justice at Vanderbilt University, I had the opportunity to interact with some of the local Muslims in Nashville. The following is an informal conversation between myself and “brother Todd” on a variety of topics. This is part two of a two-part conversation.

“I’ve come upon something that disturbs me deeply. We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know that we will win. But I’ve come to believe we’re integrating into a burning house.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

[Direct download]