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Three Calls, One Answer…. A Message from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

This week, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani received phone calls from three leading scholars, all unable to teach and transmit Islamic knowledge due to crises. This shows the urgency of the SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary initiative. Support us in preserving and transmitting the Prophetic legacy.

As-salam alaykum wa rahmatullah.

I received three phone calls from three scholars in different parts of the world this past weekend.

THREE PHONE CALLS, THREE CRISES

The first call came late Saturday night from a scholar I studied with in Damascus. He lamented that he could no longer teach because his students have all left due to the ongoing Syrian conflict. Even locals are scattered and scared to continue their studies with him.

The second call, on Sunday evening, came from a reputable scholar and dear friend of mine whom I’ve known for almost twenty years. He lives in a country where he is banned from teaching publicly or privately. He cannot even invite his students to his own home to convey Prophetic guidance, let alone being able to share it with the wider public.

On Monday,  just as I was sitting down for lunch at SeekersHub Toronto, the third call came, from Mosul, Iraq. It was from one of my most beloved teachers, Shaykh Akram ‘Abd al-Wahhab, a true master of the Islamic sciences and an amazing person of Prophetic character and wisdom.

When ISIS first took control of Mosul, Shaykh Akram was captured. Even after his release, Shaykh Akram was unable to teach due to ISIS’ threats against mainstream Muslim scholars. Now that Mosul has been freed, so I asked him, “How is the teaching now?” He said, “What teaching? All we have is destruction…but al-Hamdu li’llah.”

HELP TEACHERS GET BACK TO TEACHING

These three scholars, from three different centres of Islamic knowledge, are all unable to teach. If they can’t teach, their knowledge won’t benefit us or future generations – nor reach the wider public. This is something we ought to take very seriously.

This is what we are aiming to address with the launch of SeekersHub’s Global Islamic Seminary. We intend to find the most worthy scholars from all over the world and support them so they can dedicate themselves to teaching and mentoring future scholars.

The Hub here in Toronto will serve as a campus of this Global Islamic Seminary, so that we can link these scholars with local students and continue to produce future generations of scholars that will instill the Prophetic legacy in our children and communities.

YOU CAN MAKE THIS HAPPEN

All of this requires YOUR support. By helping us reach $75,000 in monthly donations, you’ll be helping us train the next generation of Islamic scholars who will service the religious and spiritual needs of Muslims worldwide.

Join hands with us as we strive to protect this Prophetic heritage of knowledge and service for you and your community through the SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary. We received the calls, and this is the answer.

On Jihad, Knighthood, and Just War Theory, by Mohammed Safi

Mohammed Safi reflects on the new attacks on activist and community organizer Linda Sarsour for her usage of the word “jihad”.

Knighthood and knights are considered positive things in American culture and western culture more broadly. Although historically many knights have done horribly evil and barbaric things, as intelligent people most of us can parse that and say what we value about knighthood are the positive manifestations and meanings while not valuing the negative ones. Even if some of us believe most of the positive things are made up, we are intelligent enough to understand that the positive images in society are praiseworthy even if they are fictional.

The terms, warfare and soldier are not very different. Both of those terms can be viewed in a very positive light even though there are horrendous expressions of each both in our past and present. Generally people (even pacifists) can understand that there is a difference between a horrendous expression of oppression and warfare and a just war and just war theory. This is why soldiers occupy an almost sacred place in our public discourse. Even when some of them might not live up to it, people understand that many of them sacrifice a lot, and it’s really the positive image that people praise more than any one given person or act.

Defining our own sacred term

Given all of that complexity there are still people who want to tell us that jihad can only mean one thing, and is only represented by the criminal, theologically heretical, morally inept groups we see on television today. To tell Muslims they can’t define their own sacred term and that instead terrorist groups are the ones who get to define it is intellectually disingenuous and frankly ignorant. Why the hypocrisy?

Jihad means many things but its linguistic definition and the core way it’s used in our tradition is to strive and struggle against evil for good. The primary way we do that is we strive against our own egos, desires, and demons and work on our hearts. But we also strive and struggle in our societies to form better societies that promote goodness as opposed to evil. This is how Muslims generally use the term and how Linda intended it.

Jihad can also be used to mean just warfare. She didn’t use it with that meaning in mind since she used it to mean what I mentioned above. But since people are up in arms yes Islam does allow for the state to engage in warfare just like almost all nation states do. But it does so with clear limitations on what can be done and when it can be done. It protects the innocents both human and animal and it even protects the environment. Muslims might not practice this but this is what is found in all of our texts and in our tradition. Even more importantly those engaging in this type of just war are supposed to be people who have been spending their lives fighting their own desires and egos, their own greed and anger and violence.

If one followed such dictates then Jihad would be in only the most just of cases by the most spiritually transformed of people. Does that mean Muslims throughout history lived up to this, no. But some did. Just like not all knights and not all soldiers live up to the positive image we have of them. No one gets to hijack our sacred terms or dictate how we speak about our religion.

Resources for seekers

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The Prophet Muhammad’s Ethics of War

At a time when extremist Muslim groups and movements commit crimes and murders in the name of Islam it is a duty for us to return back to the pure guidance of the Prophet ‎Muhammad ﷺ as it has reached us through unbroken chains of scholarly transmission.

Read more about the Prophet Muhammad’s ‎ﷺ ethics of war in the latest Sanad Network publication available as an online PDF.

Are Acts of Terrorism by Muslims Ever Justified? (Video)

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Are acts of terrorism by Muslims ever justified?

Answer:  Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

Photo: Gigi Ibrahim

Keeping Aleppo In Perspective, and How To Respond, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The horrific news and images coming out of Aleppo, Syria has left the world stunned. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani offers some sobering perspective on how we should process these traumatising event and how we should respond.

No peace, no justice – Shaykh Hamdi Ben Aissa

Muslims have sadly become a people who are focused on the idea of justice, and justice above all, writes Shaykh Hamdi Ben Aissa. Our actions and concerns are governed by the mentality: no justice, no peace. Thus, we have become known to the world as fighters for our rights, demanding justice from all those who would oppress us or challenge our way of life.

Is this how we should be known to this beleaguered and hurting world of ours? Is this the sum total of what Muslims have to offer humanity? And on top of that, not even justice for all, but only that which extends to our own kind?
We have reached this place of valuing justice above all else because we nurture this concern in ourselves and our children above the concern for moral integrity and spiritual refinement (ihsaan) and kindness, magnanimity, and empathy (rahma) in our personal behaviour and interactions with others. An international survey evaluating levels of empathy in children of various religions found Muslim children to have one of the lowest levels of empathy (which is another word for rahma) and the highest sense of justice, ie. swiftness in declaring the actions of another as “unfair” and demanding punishment of the other for perceived wrongdoing.
I visited an Islamic elementary school a short while ago, and when I asked the children what they wanted to do with their lives, those who had some sense of mission were in the minority. Amongst them, those whose mission had something to do with Islam were an even smaller minority. And amongst the latter, their sense of mission revolved around the need to defend Islam and its image.
This is what we have bequeathed to our children – this sense of concern for their rights, and a sense that the rights of all Muslims are under attack. Thus those who feel some sense of awareness among them can think only of how Islam is under constant attack and needs to be defended.

Self-fulfilling

The truly oppressed is he who allows himself to believe that he is oppressed. He believes that other human beings have the ultimate control over his circumstances, have power over him and are able to give him the justice he seeks or withhold it. Such a person will be reacting to the action of injustice like a ping pong ball thrown at the wall, not having any other option but to rebound eternally, getting weaker and weaker each time until it gets crushed.
Re-action is simply the continuation of action. Thus he who reacts is never free because his actions are in reality but a perpetuation of the original action of his oppressor.

Consumed by our victimhood

What made the Muslims of Makkah liberated, even when they were in the midst of severe oppression and persecution, was that they did not believe their human oppressors had any actual power. What made Bilal a freeman even when he was a “slave” is that he only ever acknowledged the One (Ahadun Ahad) as having any power, control or role in his life.
Our obsession with the wrongs others are committing against us as a community gets us nowhere. And takes all our energy. Just today a sister wrote to me to say that seeing all the horrible things happening in the world is disabling. This is exactly right. We allow ourselves to be disabled when we fixate on these things – they get the better of us. And then, we have no time or attention left to seek God and to make an honest evaluation of our own ihsaan (where are we in terms of moral integrity? are we more refined spiritually today than we were yesterday, or less so?). When we become fixated on what is happening in the world, we are no longer able to take on the most important battle that stands before us : that of begging our Lord to guide us toward moral integrity and spiritual refinement, living everyday in search of the opportunities He sends us for this. This is the true and inevitable battlefield – even for those who are out on a battlefield!
One who turns to face the battle for the heart, before attending to the battle for justice, will hold himself to four principles, which will produce in him four qualities.

The four principles before battling for justice:

1. cultivation of compassion and empathy (raḥma) before cultivation of anger (ghaḍab), such that the former controls the latter, establishing correct limits for it
2. cultivation of love for God’s sake (al-ḥubb fi Allah) before cultivation of aversion for God’s sake (al-bughḍ fi Allah), such that the former controls the latter, establishing correct limits for it
3. cultivation of permeability to beauty and goodness and those who uphold the like (athillatan ‘alal mu’mineen), before cultivation of impermeability towards wrongdoing and injustice (a’izzatan ‘alal kaafireen), such that the former controls the latter, establishing correct limits for it
4. cultivation of loyalty to what is pleasing to the Lord (al-walāʿ) before cultivation of the disavowal of what is displeasing to Him (al-barāʿ), such that the former controls the latter, establishing correct limits for it.

The four beneficial qualities that will arise within us

As a result of the believer holding himself to the above four principles, four qualities will arise within him, and these are the missiles of the heart, the fuel of a true Islamic Revival:
1. forgiveness for the one who wrongs him
2. generosity and a giving attitude to the one who denies him
3. a continuous reaching out and connecting to the one who disconnects from him
4. moral integrity and magnanimity towards the one who mistreats him.
With these qualities, a person treads the Earth as a shining guide (dāʿī) and not as an arrogant judge (qāḍī).
He puts aside his own expectations for people’s spiritual improvement according to what he would like for them, in order to submit to God’s Wisdom and Will with respect to the guidance of His Creation. As a result of this surrender to God’s Will, God uses this person as an instrument by which He guides whomsoever He Alone has chosen to receive His Guidance. (Thus this person is truly living and acting for God and by God.)

The four principles that reflect warped priorities

In contrast, one who chooses to face the battle for justice before the battle for the heart, operates by four principles that are the exact opposite of those mentioned above. These four principles are:
1. cultivation of anger (ghaḍab) before cultivation of compassion (raḥma), such that the former blocks and shuts out the latter
2. Cultivation of aversion for God’s sake (al-bughḍ fi Allah) before cultivation of love for God’s sake (al-ḥubb fi Allah), such that the former blocks and shuts out the latter
3. Cultivation of impermeability towards wrongdoing and injustice (a’izzatan ‘alal kaafireen) before cultivation of permeability to beauty and goodness and those who uphold the like (athillatan ‘alal mu’mineen), such that the former blocks and shuts out the latter
4. Cultivation of the disavowal of what is displeasing to the Lord (al-barāʿ) before cultivation of loyalty to what is pleasing to Him (al-walāʿ), such that the former blocks and shuts out the latter.

The four blameworthy qualities that will arise within us

As a result of a person structuring his inner being according to the above four principles, four qualities arise within him, which are the destroyers of the Islamic revival:
1. judgement of others’ faults (tafsīq)
2. pointing out of innovations in the religion (tabdīʿ)
3. excommunication of fellow Muslims (takfīr)
4. exploding with violence and destruction (tafjīr)
Thus, he walks amongst people as an arrogant judge (qādī) and not as a shining guide (dāʿī). Satan misguides through him more people than he himself – out of his apparent concern for the Ummah’s wellbeing – sets out to guide, correct, and reform. He holds fast to his own vision of how people should improve religiously, and seeks to impose this vision on them even if it destroys them.
Because he does not submit to the Will of God, he is not used by God as an instrument of good.

Why We Must Behave Decently Towards People – Shaykh Faid Said

In the aftermath of the July 2016 bombing in Medina, Saudia Arabia, Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said says we have an important and active choice to make. We can choose to speak with good and act with good in an attempt to be part of the solution amidst all the chaos and madness.

Shaykh Faid Said - Behave Decently With PeopleShaykh Faid Mohammed Said is a jewel in the crown of traditional Islamic scholarship in the United Kingdom and we at SeekersHub are ever grateful for his friendship, guidance and support. He was born in Asmara, Eritrea, where he studied the holy Qur’an and its sciences, Arabic grammar and fiqh under the guidance of the Grand Judge of the Islamic Court in Asmara, Shaykh Abdul Kader Hamid and also under the Grand Mufti of Eritrea. He later went to study at Madinah University, from which he graduated with a first class honours degree. In Madinah, his teachers included Shaykh Atia Salem, Shaykh Mohamed Ayub (ex-imam of the Prophet’s Mosque, peace be upon him), Professor AbdulRaheem, Professor Yaqub Turkestani, Shaykh Dr Awad Sahli, Dr Aa’edh Al Harthy and many other great scholars. Shaykh Faid has ijaza in a number of disciplines including hadith, and a British higher education teaching qualification. He is currently the scholar in residence and head of education at Harrow Central Mosque, United Kingdom.
Read his articles on the SeekersHub blog.

Resources for seekers:

Medina Bombing: Where WE Stand & Why We Must State It Clearly, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani


In an unprecedented escalation of events, an explosion has occured close to the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ mosque in Medina, allegedly detonated by a suicide bomber. The Medina bombing comes at the heels of the devastating violence in Iraq, Turkey and Bangladesh in recent weeks. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani makes it clear: where do we stand on such events and should we speak out?

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The Plague Within: Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on the Roots of Violent Extremism

Vigilante acts of violence have killed hundreds around the world in the last few days. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf writes plainly on the dark and destructive ideology which underpins groups like ISIS and their sympathisers.

According to a good hadith related by Ahmad and al-Tabarani, the Messenger of God, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, said, “You will never believe until you show mercy to one another.”
“All of us are merciful, O Messenger of God!” his companions responded.
The Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, explained, “I’m not talking about one of you showing mercy to his friend; I’m talking about universal mercy—mercy towards everyone.”
For those Muslims and people of other faiths who lost loved ones in the recent tragedies in Baghdad two days ago, in Bangladesh last Friday, in Istanbul the day before that, in Lebanon earlier last week, and in Yemen and Orlando last month, I am deeply saddened and can only offer my prayers, even as I am painfully aware of my state of utter helplessness at what has befallen our global community. As I write this, I learned about yet another bombing outside our beloved Prophet’s mosque in Medina, as believers were about to break their fast yesterday, unjustly killing four innocent security guards. Fortunately, due to the blessings of the place, the sound of the explosion was thought to be the boom of the cannon used to announce the time has come to break the fast, so the people in the mosque were not frightened nor panicked. The Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, said, “Whoever frightens the people of Medina has the damnation of God, the angels, and all of humanity.” Needless to say, the horror of these atrocities is compounded because they are being carried out—intentionally—in the blessed month of Ramadan.

A faith-eating plague

A plague is upon us, and it has its vectors. Like the brain-eating amoebas that have struck the warm waters of the Southern states in America, a faith-eating plague has been spreading across the global Muslim community. This insidious disease has a source, and that source must be identified, so we can begin to inoculate our communities against it.
New versions of our ancient faith have sprung up and have infected the hearts and minds of countless young people across the globe. Imam Adel Al-Kalbani, who led prayers in the Haram of Mecca for several years, has publicly stated that these youth are the bitter harvest of teachings that have emanated from pulpits throughout the Arabian Peninsula, teachings that have permeated all corners of the world, teachings that focus on hatred, exclusivity, provincialism, and xenophobia. These teachings anathematize any Muslim who does not share their simple-minded, literalist, anti-metaphysical, primitive, and impoverished form of Islam, and they reject the immense body of Islamic scholarship from the luminaries of our tradition.

The spread of this ideology

Due to a sophisticated network of funding, these teachings have flooded bookstores throughout the Muslim world and even in America, Europe, and Australia. For a case study of what they have spawned, we might look to Kosovo. Our “Islamic” schools are now filled with books published by this sect that lure the impressionable minds of our youth at an age when they are most susceptible to indoctrination. This sect of Islam, however, is not the sole source of our current crisis, and it would be wrong to place all blame on it alone; many of its adherents are peace-loving quietists, who want only to be left alone to practice their faith as they see fit. Their exclusivism is a necessary but not sufficient cause for the xenophobic hatred that leads to such violence. The terroristic Islamists are a hybrid of an exclusivist takfiri version of the above and the political Islamist ideology that has permeated much of the Arab and South Asian world for the last several decades. It is this marriage made in hell that must be understood in order to fully grasp the calamitous situation we find our community in. While the role that Western interventions and misadventures in the region have played in creating this quagmire should not be set aside, diminished, or denied, we should, however, keep in mind that Muslims have been invaded many times in the past yet never reacted like these fanatics. Historically, belligerent enemies often admired the nobility Muslims displayed in their strict adherence to history’s first humane rules of engagement that were laid down by the Prophet himself to insure that mercy was never completely divorced from the callousness of conflict.
We need to clearly see the pernicious and pervasive nature of this ideological plague and how it is responsible for the chaos and terror spreading even to the city of our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, in all its inviolability. Its most vulnerable victims are our disaffected youth who often live in desolate circumstances with little hope for their futures. Promises of paradise and easy-out strategies from the weariness of this world have enticed these suicidal youth to express their pathologies in the demonically deceptive causes of “Islamic” radicalism. The pictures they leave behind—showing the supercilious smiles on their faces, even as they hold in their hapless hands their Western-made assault rifles—are testament to the effective brainwashing taking place.

Normative voices drowned out

The damage being wrought is not only within Islam but also to Islam’s good name in the eyes of the world. These now daily occurrences of destructive, hate-filled violence are beginning to drown out the voices of normative Islam, thereby cultivating a real hatred in the hearts of those outside our communities. In the minds of many around the world, Islam, once considered a great world religion, is being reduced to an odious political ideology that threatens global security; that, in turn, is proving disastrous for minority Muslim communities, who now abide in increasingly hostile environments in secular societies.

Counter-voices of scholars and activists

What we need to counter this plague are the voices of scholars, as well as grassroots activists, who can begin to identify the real culprits behind this fanatical ideology. What we do not need are more voices that veil the problem with empty, hollow, and vacuous arguments that this militancy has little to do with religion; it has everything to do with religion: misguided, fanatical, ideological, and politicized religion. It is the religion of resentment, envy, powerlessness, and nihilism. It does, however, have nothing to do with the merciful teachings of our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him. Unchecked, we will see this plague foment more such violence, until one day, God forbid, these hateful and vile adherents obtain a nuclear device, the use of which has already been sanctioned by their “scholars,” including one currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. If such a scenario unfolds, it is highly probable that the full wrath of Western powers will be unleashed upon a helpless Muslim world that would make even the horrendous Mongol invasions of the 13th century look like a stroll in the park.

“To flee from calamities is the Sunnah of Prophets”

Invariably, some will remark that a fear of Western retaliation is a sign of cowardice. For those zealots, I would recommend turning back to the Qur’an, specifically to reflect on the undeniably brave Messenger Moses, peace be upon him, who unintentionally killed an Egyptian after striking him with his powerful blow, only because he was considered an enemy, and then asked God’s forgiveness and “fled vigilantly out of fear” (28:21). This is a cautionary tale, and it behooves all of us to reflect upon it as a lesson of what not to do when oppressed, especially when we are without political authority or the means to redress our grievances. Imam al-Sahrwardi stated, “To flee from calamities is the Sunnah of Prophets.” It is best not to let our baser self, our lust for revenge, get the better of us.
We would do well to acknowledge that much of what is happening in the Muslim world and to Muslim communities in the West is from what our own hands have wrought. Muslims have been in the West for a long time and have done little to educate people here about our faith; too many of us have been occupied in our wordly affairs, while some of our mosques and schools have been breeding grounds for an ideological Islamism rather than Islam. The Qur’an clearly instructs us that when faced with calamities, we ought to look first at what we may have done to bring them upon us. Introspection is a Qur’anic injunction. Until we come to terms with this Qur’anic truth, we will remain mired in the mirage of denial, always pointing fingers in every direction but at ourselves. “Verily, God does not change the conditions of a people until they change themselves” (Qur’an, 13:11).
As Ramadan comes to a close, let us pray for the oppressed and the guidance of the oppressors, for those who have been killed, and for those who lost their loved ones, and most of all, let us heed our Prophet’s call and want mercy for everyone.

Resources for seekers:

How to stop the cycle of hate, by Imam Khalid Latif

Almost daily there are news reports of hate crimes against Muslims in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, as well as news of mass terrorist attacks against Muslims in countries like Iraq, Turkey and Bangladesh. Imam Khalid Latif reflects in this article originally published on CNN.

This morning, I woke up to images and stories outlining numerous hate crimes taken place against Muslims in cities throughout the United States just in the last 10 hours. Two Muslim teenagers assaulted in Brooklyn, New York outside of a mosque while the assailant called them “terrorist”, a Muslim doctor ambushed and shot in Houston Texas by three men as he went for morning prayers, and another Muslim beaten in Fort Pierce Florida right outside of an Islamic Center there. These are just the stories reported and that took place less than a day ago. That’s in addition to so many more reported over the last weeks and months, and so many more that just aren’t reported.

Don’t Be A Passive Bystander

If you see something, say something has to mean something different to us today. If you see bigotry, say something. If you see hatred, say something. If you see racism, say something. You and I have to be the change that this world needs. We cannot adopt a bitterness or passivity that lets people who have no interest other than their own self-interest succeed
A failure to acknowledge and deal with illness doesn’t mean that it’s not there. I can pretend like I’m not sick, but my body will let me know otherwise. We can pretend like our society is not in pain and in need of healing, but atrocities like those that took place just even last night will let us know otherwise. The anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States isn’t just rising, it’s really high. An unwillingness and indifference on the part of individuals and institutions to put it in check is a large part of the problem.

Our Sense of Compassion Is Being Obliterated

Our indifference to the narratives of those distinct from our own coupled with our own egocentric priorities places us in the reality that we find ourselves in. Issues of race, class and privilege are the roots of our ailments, and an unwillingness to recognize it is leading us to a terrible place. With every assault, every hate crime, every death, our sense of compassion is being obliterated. With every failure to remedy injustice, we add to the pain. These assailants knew that they were going to attack Muslims. They knew they would find them at the mosques at those specific times. For what reason then with will there be a hesitancy in labeling their actions as anything but a hate crime?
More likely than not we won’t see an outcry against these actions by political leaders of any kind. There will be a continued utilization of Islam as a political football by those who have no real interest in anything other than their own self-interest. Letting hate prevail seemingly didn’t work as a solution to stopping hate, but seemingly that isn’t an issue.
In my opinion if you don’t speak out against it you’re just as bad as the person who is saying it in the first place. What do you think it teaches people when senior officials of major political parties throughout the country are either espousing, and in turn justifying, hatred against Muslims through their words or their silence? What does it teach a broader society about the worth and designation of a population that is over 1.5 billion in number throughout this world?

What Message Are We Sending Out?

The same thing that it teaches the broader society when mosques are kept from being open and built, when unjust surveillance and profiling policies are legitimized and implemented, when media has no problem making cursory links of every and any Muslim to terrorism, but dig deep to connect people of other backgrounds to troubled childhoods and mental health issues, and when politicians are allowed to build racist campaign platforms taking advantage of fear and ignorance. It teaches them that it’s ok for Muslims to be treated differently, to in fact be mistreated, simply because they are Muslim, and that there is no problem with that.
There is, in fact, a huge problem with it.

This Isn’t Just A Muslim Thing

If you think my anger and frustration is only because that there were Muslims who were attacked, then you don’t get it. I feel for these people because they are people. I feel for these people as I feel for Orlando. I feel for these people as I feel for Baltimore, Ferguson and Chicago. I feel for these people as I feel for Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq and Syria. I feel for these people as I feel for anyone who finds themselves in any type of affliction or conflict. We have seen minorities of all backgrounds get vilified more and more and things have gotten to a point where assaults and even death doesn’t bring about a recognition of their value as humans. We have seen shooting after shooting take place in this country, increasing directly along with our country’s legislators unwillingness to speak about gun control. My anger and frustration stems from the fact that with every act of hatred and our failed responses to it, indifference is becoming more alive and in the process our shared humanity is dying.
Will there be droves of leaders marching in the streets, elbowing each other to make sure they stand at the front of the pack and let the world know that they are outraged by the assaults on Muslims throughout the country? Will they hold vigils to speak out against the realities of hate and address the deeper, systemic issues around race, ethnicity and privilege or even give a simple nod to the signs and symptoms around us indicating their existence? Probably not. But will you stand up, simply because you are able to and it’s the right thing to do?
I am a Muslim. I work as the University Chaplain for New York University. I serve as a Chaplain for the New York City Police Department and am given the rank of inspector. I have traveled on behalf of the State Department, met with the heads of homeland security, senior white house officials and even President Obama himself, shared stages with the likes of Pope Francis and the Dalai lama. I am still one of the many Muslims in this country who have been detained, profiled and surveilled. My home has been visited by the FBI on numerous occasions where I have been told that I am being watched because I am too good to be true. As much as I am seen as antidote, I am first still seen as a poison for no other reason that I choose to practice the faith that I do. That is not ok. But I still believe that we can and will be better.

Be The Change You Want To See

Healing requires admitting we are sick. You and I are a bigger part of the cure than we might realize. On the eve of our Independence Day, we as a nation have a choice to make. At a time when we are still debating whether Black Lives Matter or not, candidates for the highest offices of our land make statements that indicate they speak for and to only a select group of Americans. We can no longer let our perspectives of each other be fueled through a media machine that seeks to sensationalize and bombard readers and viewers with narrative that serves to only segment and antagonize even further. The amplification of extreme voices has to be drowned out by our coming together. The ignorance of ISIS or the Republican right can no longer be the basis of how we function in diverse societies. We must learn the reality of struggles faced by those around us by actually being with them, as opposed to simply through the biased images that are cast in front of us every day. We do not have to be women to stand up women’s rights, black to stand up for black rights, or Muslim to stand up for Muslim rights. An attack on any of us is an attack on all of us. I said it before and I’ll say it again, if you see something, say something has to mean something different to us today. If you see bigotry, say something. If you see hatred, say something. If you see racism, say something. You and I have to be the change that this world needs. We cannot adopt a bitterness or passivity that lets people who have no interest other than their own self-interest succeed. We cannot lose hope – tomorrow will be better than today so long as you do our part. Our coming together of today is only meaningful if we continue to come together tomorrow. Let us be the reason that people have continued hope in this world, and never the reason people dread it.

Resources for seekers: