Steven Seidman describes these three facets of premodern religious life and how those communities were able to prevent existential challenges from “erupting into full-blown cultural crises”.
In this episode of the Middle Ground Podcast, I discuss “what to do” with Muslims, especially family members, who “don’t do what they ought to do”. I also discusses the future of Muslim devotional education.
On dignity and religious freedom and the power of negative psychology:
The Power of Rejection & Religious Yearning
Instead of getting that religious freedom, we were fascinated so much, enchanted so much, enamored so much with the hope of being accepted by our rejectors.
Imam W. D. Muhammad once said,
“Pimps, playboys, and pretty boys — that make a business out of romancing women: they know the way to get a woman hooked is to reject her for no reason that she can find. And she will be tied up forever trying to find out, ‘how come I’m not wanted?!’. He’ll have her forever.”
Then the final step is the yearning to prove ourselves.
يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنوا لا تَتَّخِذُوا اليَهودَ وَالنَّصارىٰ أَولِياءَ ۘ بَعضُهُم أَولِياءُ بَعضٍ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُم مِنكُم فَإِنَّهُ مِنهُم ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَهدِي القَومَ الظّالِمينَ
“O’ faithful!, do not take the Jews and Christians as your protectors; they are simply friends of one another. Any of you who becomes infatuated by them is one of them. God does not guide wrongdoing people.” Qur’an, 5: 51
Carrying your religious freedom, your freedom urge, the yearning in your soul to its proper conclusion.
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ :
“إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى يَقُولُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ: أَيْنَ الْمُتَحَابُّونَ بجَلَالِي؟ الْيَوْمَ أُظِلُّهُمْ فِي ظِلِّي يَوْمَ لَا ظِلَّ إِلَّا ظِلِّي”
رواه البخاري (وكذلك مالك)
Let us instead come together, with love for one another, for God’s sake:
“God will say on the Day of Resurrection, ‘Where are those who love one another through My glory? Today I shall give them shade in My shade, it being a day when there is no shade but My shade’.” Holy Narration (Hadith Qudsi), related by Imam Malik and al-Bukhari.
What will a avail us in the depths? As Imam al-Ghazali relates: “only knowledge and works devoted to God can avail us”.
وما سوى الخالص لوجه الله من العلم والعمل عند الناقد البصير
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 one 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.
*Warning: the material covered here is adult content. Young people should listen with their parents.
This post is part of the Keepin’ It One Hunned series.
Moses was the adopted son of Egypt and Pharaoh. Malcolm too was an adopted son of sorts. Both spoke truth to power. There are many figures of justice throughout the Qur’an and in Muslim history: Moses, Jesus, Abraham, Dhu’l Qarnayn, Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, Umar bin al-Khattab, Nana Asmau, Muhammad ‘Ali, and El Hajj Malcolm Shabbaz, just to name a few.
One of the issues that challenge religious communities in America as it relates to relevance and speaking truth to power is the privatization of religion (secularity/post-secularity). In this process of privatization, I feel we have taken the story, life and today, anniversary of the death of Malcolm Shabbaz, from the perspective of privatized religion. So the question is:
Do we celebrate Malcolm’s “coolness” or do we actually intimately relate to the issues he sought to address?
What did he stand for? Do we really love Malcolm, or have we used his story and history as a repository to write our own, for as God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم tells us, love has conditions:
قَالَ رَجُلٌ لِلنَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهِ إِنِّي لأُحِبُّكَ . فَقَالَ ” انْظُرْ مَاذَا تَقُولُ ” . قَالَ وَاللَّهِ إِنِّي لأُحِبُّكَ . فَقَالَ ” انْظُرْ مَاذَا تَقُولُ ” . قَالَ وَاللَّهِ إِنِّي لأُحِبُّكَ . ثَلاَثَ مَرَّاتٍ فَقَالَ ” إِنْ كُنْتَ تُحِبُّنِي فَأَعِدَّ لِلْفَقْرِ تِجْفَافًا فَإِنَّ الْفَقْرَ أَسْرَعُ إِلَى مَنْ يُحِبُّنِي مِنَ السَّيْلِ إِلَى مُنْتَهَاهُ
A man said to the Prophet (s.a.w): “O’ Messenger of God, I swear to God that I truly love you!” So the Prophet said: “Consider what you’re saying.” To this the man replied, “I swear to God that I truly love you!” Three times this was repeated. He said, “If you do indeed love me, then prepare yourself for poverty, for indeed poverty comes faster upon whoever loves me than does the flood to its destination.” — Jami’ al-Tirmidhi, 2350.
While this hadith is rated as weak it does show that standing up for the truth, for la ilahi illa’Allah, will not come without its trials and tests. This was abundantly clear in the life of Malcolm, how ultimately paid for justice with his life, may God have mercy on him.
Another parallel between Malcolm’s life and the Qur’an is the story of Abraham and his people:
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ رُشْدَهُ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا بِهِ عَالِمِينَ
إِذْ قَالَ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوْمِهِ مَا هَٰذِهِ التَّمَاثِيلُ الَّتِي أَنْتُمْ لَهَا عَاكِفُونَ
قَالُوا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءَنَا لَهَا عَابِدِينَ
قَالَ لَقَدْ كُنْتُمْ أَنْتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمْ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ
قَالُوا أَجِئْتَنَا بِالْحَقِّ أَمْ أَنْتَ مِنَ اللَّاعِبِينَ
قَالَ بَلْ رَبُّكُمْ رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ الَّذِي فَطَرَهُنَّ وَأَنَا عَلَىٰ ذَٰلِكُمْ مِنَ الشَّاهِدِينَ
“We gave Ibrahim his right guidance early on, and We had complete knowledge of him. When he said to his father and his people, ‘What are these statues you are clinging to?’ they said, ‘We found our fathers worshipping them.’ He said, ‘You and your fathers are clearly misguided.’ They said, ‘Have you brought us the truth or are you playing games?’ He said, ‘Far from it! Your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, He who brought them into being. I am one of those who bear witness to that.” Qur’an, 21: 51-57.
It took a look of courage for Abraham to address his people on what they were wrongly “clutching on to”. Likewise, Malcolm addressed America, as one of its own, that they too were clutching on to the system of anti-black racism and violence, a system much akin to idolatry, for no other reason than they “found their forefathers doing so”.
This and more is addressed in the khutbah. I pray we can reflect, change and benefit from the examples of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, Moses, Jesus, Abraham and even the likes of our brother, Malcolm.
And with God is all success.