Social Justice in Islam – From Awareness to Action

It was my honor to be invited to speak at Vanderbilt University on the top of social justice in the Muslim community. My hope was to deliver a talk that challenged some of the more stereotypical methods we conceive of social justice and how we might break down these barriers and get to the heart of what’s holding us back as a community. The following are my notes to go with the audio.

[Direct download]

Social Justice Nashville

“Racism systematically verifies itself when the slave can only break free by imitating the master: by contradicting his own reality.” — John O’Neal

In for a penny, in for a pound….

  • Muslims must overcome their Fear and Loathing of America: at once you fear America and you also loath it, but in the loathing you also desire its tempting fruits.
  • You may actually have the solution for an issues America doesn’t have an answer to yet.
  • Pope Francis’s visit renewed discourse on the role of religion in society and culture.
  • Not all of your queues (as Muslims) will come directly from religion (oh, no! what are you saying?!).
  • Shari’ah (define it!) is prescriptive vs. descriptive.

Surah Al ‘Imran:

كُنتُم خَيرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخرِجَت لِلنّاسِ تَأمُرونَ بِالمَعروفِ وَتَنهَونَ عَنِ المُنكَرِ وَتُؤمِنونَ بِاللَّهِ ۗ وَلَو آمَنَ أَهلُ الكِتابِ لَكانَ خَيرًا لَهُم ۚ مِنهُمُ المُؤمِنونَ وَأَكثَرُهُمُ الفاسِقونَ

  • Don’t allow one issue with which you may disagree dissuade you from taking a stance on other issues.
  • Look to the example of Suhayl bin ‘Amru and the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah and how the Prophet negotiated a deal with non-Muslims.

وقد روى الإمام أحمد أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بدأ يُمْلي شروط الصلح، وعلي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه يكتب، فكان مما أملاه صلى الله عليه وسلم: (بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم) فقال سهيل: أما الرحمن فوالله لا ندري ما هو، ولكن اكتب باسمك اللهم، فأمر رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عليًّا فكتبها كذلك، ثم أملى صلى الله عليه وسلم: (هذا ما صالح عليه محمد رسول الله) فقال سهيل: لو نعلم أنك رسول الله ما صددناك عن البيت ولا قاتلناك، ولكن اكتبمحمد بن عبد الله، فوافق رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وقال: (والله، إني لرسول الله وإن كذبتموني، اكتب محمد بن عبد الله).

“It’s not the size of the ship that makes the waves, it’s the motion of the ocean.” — John O’Neal

In other words – GET OUT THERE!! Simply building bigger, fancier trophy masajid/mosques will not get the job done.