#MiddleGroundPodcast: Self Criticism – A Khutbah

I delivered the following khutbah at the Claremont Colleges on Friday, February 8th, 2019.

“Be self-critical, not in anticipation of a particular result, but self-critical of what you are doing now in relation to the goal you wish to accomplish.”

وَمِنَ النّاسِ مَن يُعجِبُكَ قَولُهُ فِي الحَياةِ الدُّنيا وَيُشهِدُ اللَّهَ عَلىٰ ما في قَلبِهِ وَهُوَ أَلَدُّ الخِصامِ

وَإِذا تَوَلّىٰ سَعىٰ فِي الأَرضِ لِيُفسِدَ فيها وَيُهلِكَ الحَرثَ وَالنَّسلَ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لا يُحِبُّ الفَسادَ

وَإِذا قيلَ لَهُ اتَّقِ اللَّهَ أَخَذَتهُ العِزَّةُ بِالإِثمِ ۚ فَحَسبُهُ جَهَنَّمُ ۚ وَلَبِئسَ المِهادُ

وَمِنَ النّاسِ مَن يَشري نَفسَهُ ابتِغاءَ مَرضاتِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ رَءوفٌ بِالعِبادِ

يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا ادخُلوا فِي السِّلمِ كافَّةً وَلا تَتَّبِعوا خُطُواتِ الشَّيطانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُم عَدُوٌّ مُبينٌ

“Among the people there is someone whose words about the life of this world excite your admiration, and he calls Allah to witness what is in his heart, while he is in fact the most hostile of adversaries. When he leaves you, he goes about the earth corrupting it, destroying crops and animals. Allah does not love corruption. When he is told to have regard for and fear of Allah, he is seized by pride which drives him to wrongdoing. Hell will be enough for him! What an evil resting-place! And among the people there are some who give up everything, desiring the good pleasure of Allah. Allah is Ever-Gentle with His slaves. You who believe!, enter Islam totally. Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is an outright enemy to you.” Qur’an 2: 204-208

Too Much Emotional Dependence?

I’ve been reading an engaging book, Mindfulness-Integrated CBT, by Bruno A. Cayoun, and it made me think about how we as leaders and religious educators are engaging with the broader Muslim public. Hopefully you’ll follow me on this one:

“During psychotherapy, the client may learn about himself or herself based on what we say as therapists, colored by our own view of the world and operational paradigm. Our client acquires self-knowledge based on someone’s view, the therapist’s: ‘the client’s thought is irrational because it leads to emotional pain,’ If this is the only level of involvement (faith in the clinician), symptoms may be alleviated for some time but the client’s sense of self-control and self-efficacy tends to remain poor and bound to the context and topic of the intervention. A potential danger is dependence on the clinician for approval or reassurance, leading to unnecessary long-term treatment.”

I sometimes worry about the cult of personality that exists within our communities. It’s not that I think charisma has no place and should be done away with, but rather I’m concerned that people are getting attached to people (students to teachers, people to institutions) or places to such an extent that it interferes with the therapy and healing that (I think) we’re trying to accomplish. I say this as I have been slowly pushed more and more into a public spotlight and have concerns about the quality of what I am producing.