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This Past Week at The Usuli Institute (20 - 26 May 2022)
SURAH 61: AL SAFF
ORIGINAL COMMENTARY
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The True Prophetic Sunnah: Zakah plus Sadaqa of 20% or More
USULI EXCERPT
An Islamic Approach to Understanding Homelessness
USULI EXCERPT
Q&A with Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl: Part 2, Dispelling Myths on Sexual and Spiritual Abuse, 15 May 2022
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MUSLIMS ALLOW THE DEMOLITION OF AL AQSA MOSQUE? Usuli Institute Khutbah, 20 MAY 2022
(Summary Description Below)
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Grace's Message

Dear Friends,

Al salamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatohu. It has been another difficult week in America, and I pray that wherever you are, you are safe and healthy God willing (insha'Allah). As the news unfolds about yet another horrific school shooting, the continued hypocrisy of our so-called leaders, and the senseless deaths of 21 beautiful souls in Uvelde, Texas, it is hard not to feel everything from outrage to despair to hopelessness.

Around the world on the Muslim front, we are confronted with the same emotions with regard to the overall state of Muslims, especially given the trauma to our symbolic heart and soul - Jerusalem and Al Aqsa Mosque, co-equal in importance to Muslims as Mecca, and which connect Islam to the line of Abrahamic faiths. Last Friday, Dr. Abou El Fadl shared in his khutbah the following visual being circulated by an Israeli far-right group, Lehave, which is calling for the demolition of Al Aqsa Mosque beginning this weekend on Jerusalem Day, 29 May 2022 (see below for the summary description of last week's khutbah).

This is bone-chilling. As Dr. Abou El Fadl promised in his khutbah: "Remember this image well, because when it comes to reality and when these excavators, in due time, start destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque, I have vowed I will not answer from any Muslim any question about the idiotic minutia that preoccupies their minds and souls. When this begins, I will never talk about the technicalities of wudu, of prayer or of fasting. I will never talk about the technicalities of anything, because as far as I am concerned, we are cursed. When this begins, it does not matter. It just does not matter."

What should we Muslims do? Anything and everything. Go nuts. Tell others, protest, demand our Muslim leaders and Muslim organizations make this their priority, make sure every imam and khutbah across the country is talking about this, call our political leaders. There are many community organizers and activists who should know what to do. Most Muslims at this point are probably not even aware. 

From the time I was a young convert until very recently, I never felt a strong connection to Al Aqsa Mosque or the events in the Middle East, or anywhere outside the U.S. quite frankly, when it came to Muslims. All of that changed after I began learning what the Qur'an was telling us - what God was telling us - through the Project Illumine halaqas. It is incredible that as of last Saturday, we have completed 78 out of 114 surahs in the Project Illumine series. The last few surahs in particular have been absolutely mind-blowing, as have they all, to be honest. Surah 63: Al Munafiqun described to us the degrees of hypocrisy in a person and completely crushed the idea that hypocrites are like an outlier category. No, in fact, we all have hypocrisy in us, and part of the challenge is identifying how and to what degree our hypocrisy obstructs us from the path of God. Surah 62: Al Jumu'ah gave us an unforgettably powerful lesson about priorities - are we truly God-centered, or are we driven more by pragmatism and ego? Surah 61: Al Saff cut to the chase - do we keep to our word and do what we say we will do? Are we on the side of light or darkness? There is no in between.

In my 28 years as a convert, even being married to Dr. Abou El Fadl, I have never heard anything like what is in these halaqas anywhere. The Qur'an in English translation was all I had, and while the translations were powerful in themselves, I had nothing to compare them with as a non-Arabic speaker, except other English translations. Overall, they seemed fine, but they felt like a collection of verses that had no real unifying themes, chapter to chapter. Many chapters felt repetitive, with verses saying many of the same things over and over for good emphasis (or at least, that is what I believed). While it felt good to read the English translations, at the same time, I wasn't sure I understood the significance of what I was reading.

Now, after Dr. Abou El Fadl has walked us contextually, traditionally, and thematically through 78 surahs, I am aghast at how unidimensional these English translations of the Qur'an are. It is the difference between hearing a symphony played by a single instrument versus the same symphony being played by a full orchestra - and then learning that the single instrument was often off-key! But even more important, how could I have been a Muslim for so long without being this connected to the Qur'an? But then again, I wonder, how can one feel connected to the Qur'an when one does not know what it means at a deeper level - something much more beautiful and profound than the unidimensional English translations that imply there is only one relatively narrow meaning for each verse. And how could I possibly have arrived at a deeper understanding of the Qur'an without also understanding the larger historical context in which surahs were revealed, which includes being able to step back in time in someone else's shoes and trying to understand what life was like back then and what was going on at the time of revelation. I would never have come to this understanding on my own. This understanding is only possible from a scholar's obsession - THIS scholar's obsession with mastering the epistemology of the Prophet's age, and then mastering the epistemology of our age to connect the two on moral and ethical grounds. This is what allows us to understand and then seek to apply the moral message of the Qur'an to our own time; this is what makes the Qur'an come alive and become relevant for our lives. This is what sets Project Illumine apart from other commentaries. 

But this begs the question - what other commentaries? Are there other scholars right now who are taking deep dives into every surah of the Qur'an? Are there any comprehensive approaches to the Qur'an that offer a cohesive methodology, thematic understandings by chapter, and original contributions to the tafasir literature? If there is, we have not heard about it, but if you are aware of any, please do let me know! 

But it is most certainly happening here at Usuli and it is priceless. What do you do when you recognize that THIS study of the Qur'an is what has the potential to be the game changer of game changers, yet very few people know it? I ask myself, isn't it strange to be a Muslim and not have a very good understanding of the Qur'an? It has always felt to me as a convert that more priority was given to understanding hadith or memorizing the Qur'an - but not understanding the Qur'an. For example, why is it that Muslims spend so much time and energy on discussing and debating hadith rather than discussing, debating and engaging the Qur'an? Why is it okay that Qur'an reciters can recite the Qur'an without understanding what they are reciting? Isn't that odd, and actually wrong? It feels insulting to God, as if God would prefer form over substance! Now that we have had the privilege to step into Dr. Abou El Fadl's shoes to understand his methodology and process - and then see and experience the fruit of his labor in opening the meaning of the Qur'an - there is no turning back. It is clear that God left us something profoundly beautiful, humanistic, vibrant and demanding in the Qur'an - a true miracle and wellspring of knowledge and wisdom for those who are willing to invest the time to learn it. 

We have been given a gift in these Project Illumine halaqas, and the more you engage with the gift, the more the gift returns to you. Now, as we embark this weekend on our 79th surah, insha'Allah, the burden and responsibility of this learning is at once elevating and weighty. It is enlightening and burdensome. Our accountability before God has increased, and our responsibility to share it with others has grown. I truly believe we have been given the gift of light in the midst of the extreme darkness of our times. For those who are truly seeking, it is a lifeline. What we do with this gift is the test. May we all pass, insha'Allah! 

Looking forward to seeing you online for our khutbah today and tomorrow night at 6 pm ET FOR A NEW SURAH! Please keep all of us in your prayers!! May God keep you and your loved ones safe and protected and on the most beautiful path always! Hope to see you online soon insha'Allah!

In Peace and Hope,

Grace Song
Executive Director
The Usuli Institute
grace@usuli.org

*****************************

HAVE YOU PURCHASED YOUR COPY OF THE PROPHET'S PULPIT YET?

This is the most important book you can read to capture the beautiful essence and power of what it means to be an ethical Muslim in 2022! Get one for yourself and your friends and make a difference in the world. 

NOW AVAILABLE IN EBOOK! The paperback and hardbacks are gorgeous! It is available on Barnes and Noble online here!

REVIEWS OF THE BOOK
There are some great reviews so far on Amazon - if you have read it and can leave a 5-star review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any place that allows you to leave a review, we would be most grateful, especially before the Islamophobes jump on the bandwagon and decide to start writing negative reviews to undermine sales (yes, it happens). 

Also, if you or someone you know would be interested in reviewing or writing about the book for a journal, newspaper, blog or other media outlet, let me know and we can send you a review copy. Same for professors who would like an examination copy for possible adoption in a course. Any questions, write to me. :) Time for an intellectual revolution!

USULI MERCH!
On that note, if anyone would like a T-shirt, we are happy to sell them at cost! 

Here are the details: If you live in the U.S., they are $20 and will be shipped to you directly from Canva.com. If you live outside of the U.S., we will receive your order and ship to you for an additional shipping and handling fee of $10, so $30 total. Send your payment via PayPal (@UsuliInstitute) and indicate in the notes the size (S-M-L-XL-XXL) and shipping address (with phone number) if different from your billing address. Let me know if you have any questions! If you would like an Usuli T-shirt (available in black or white), you can follow the same process.


MATCHING GIFT PROGRAM EXTENDED  - Double your impact!
Another very kind soul upped the ante another $12,500 and we have extended our matching gift program up to a total of $52,500 until we reach our goal! Alhamdulillah! THANK YOU to the most generous and blessed donors who have allowed us to double the impact of donations beyond Ramadan! 


MATCHING GIFT PROGRAM - DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT DURING RAMADAN!


Every donation to The Usuli Institute will be matched dollar for dollar up to $52.5K! You can double your impact with your support! Alhamdullilah, we are so grateful that this opportunity will increase blessings for all involved insha'Allah! Please spread the word and take full advantage of these blessed gifts!

DISCOVER ISLAM ANEW!
People often ask me where to start if they want to take this journey with us from the beginning. My own recommended reading list begins with The Prophet's Pulpit (!). Next, the classics: The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books; and The Great Theft: Wresting Islam from the Extremists. Then fourth would be And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses. Fifth would be Reasoning with God: Reclaiming Shari'ah in the Modern Age. AND of course, everything by Dr. Abou El Fadl either through the Usuli website or the online archive for Dr. Abou El Fadl's work at www.searchforbeauty.org

Want to stock up on three of those books while they are on sale? Here they are! In conjunction with our virtual events, our publisher is running special discounts on three of Dr. Abou El Fadl's amazing books! Take 30% off the paperback versions ONLY:

1) Reasoning with God: Reclaiming Shari'ah in the Modern Age Reg. $32.00 / Sale: $22.40

2) The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books Reg. $54.00 / Sale: $37.80

3) And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses Reg. $43.99 / Sale: $30.79

ORDER NOW on Rowman.com and use code RLFANDF30 at the checkout!

MORE RESOURCES FOR LEARNING:

USULINEWS.WORDPRESS.COM

A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU TO ROSS for maintaining this tremendously valuable site! Find the links to articles and references mentioned in Usuli khutbahs and more!

https://usulinews.wordpress.com/


Great independent news sources for an alternative to corporate funded media:
CJ Werleman's Patreon Page
www.democracynow.org
www.theintercept.com
www.mintpressnews.org
www.commondreams.org
www.propublica.org
www.newlinesmag.com
https://thecradle.co/ (includes Pepe Escobar, Sharmine Narwani)
https://taibbi.substack.com/ Matt Taibbi, a very seasoned journalist (Rolling Stone Magazine), publishes on a variety of topics.
https://consortiumnews.com/ an independent media outlet promoted by Chris Hedges.
www.counterpunch.org
https://bylinetimes.com/

www.electronicintifada.net
www.breakingpoints.com with Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti
https://ifamericansknew.org/ Israel-Palestine news with Alison Weir

If you have other independent news outlets that you recommend, let me know and we can add them to our reference list!

LISTEN TO PROJECT ILLUMINE ON AUDIO AT OUR SOUNDCLOUD CHANNEL!

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Playlist: Project Illumine: The Light of the Quran

And please support our hard work to publish this entire Project Illumine tafsir in a multi-volume work! May God bless and elevate you for investing in knowledge and understanding God's Blessed Qur'an!


Link to donate at www.usuli.org/donate

See you online soon insha'Allah! :)

Khutbah Summary Description
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MUSLIMS ALLOW THE DEMOLITION OF AL AQSA MOSQUE?
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, Founder of The Usuli Institute and
Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
20 May 2022
 

There is an image that is hard to ignore, that really puts Muslims to the ultimate test. The image is quite simply this: An excavator, a big monstrous truck beginning to tear down the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is accompanied with a caption stating the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque will begin on May 29th, inviting all Israelis to come to Al-Aqsa Mosque so that the tearing down, the dismantling, and the destroying of Al-Aqsa Mosque can begin.

This call for the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque to begin on the 29th was brought on by the Jewish Organization the Lehava and its founder, Bentzi Gopstein. This organization was one of the main organizations that, throughout this past Ramadan, repeatedly invaded Al-Aqsa Mosque and repeatedly violated the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque. May 29th, the day they want to start the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque, is Jerusalem Day. Lehava has made a name for itself because in their demonstrations, they regularly yell out, "Death to Arabs," and they have vowed to demolish the Dome of the Rock and to build what they believe is the third coming of the temple, in other words, to replace Al-Aqsa Mosque with the temple.

When an organization like Lehava finds that it is able to repeatedly violate the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and it finds that it has the weight of the Israeli State protecting and supporting it – ie., the Israeli State does not call members of Lehava terrorists, and it does not do like Muslims do, which is to throw their religious extremists in prison and torture them – Lehava finds that it has very warm relations with members of the Israeli State. They are protected by Israeli law, and honored by the Israeli system of rights and entitlements granted to Jews. But even more critically, as they violated the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque day after day, time after time, they have come to terms with the absolute silence and complicity of the Muslim world.

They continue to violate the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, but it did not affect Israeli-Emirati relations in the least. It did not affect Israeli-Saudi relations in the least. In fact, after having done what they did this Ramadan, Saudi Arabia committed billions of dollars to be invested in Israel, through Jared Kushner and his whole commercial economic deal of investing Arab money in Israel, getting Muslims to pay for their abusers. It is truly a remarkable episode in the history of colonialism, where we find colonized, very wealthy fat cats to actually bankroll the colonization and the continued abuse of their own kind.

The sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque continued to be violated day after day this past Ramadan, yet there was no reaction from Egypt, not even as little as calling back the Egyptian Ambassador to Israel. The message is very clear, the writing on the wall is obvious: Muslims have become so insignificant, so unsubstantial. If they actually destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque, what is the most that is going to happen? Tongue-in-cheek condemnations. American aid will continue uninterrupted, European support will continue uninterrupted, and Muslims will not make the type of stand that Europe and the West took when Russia invaded Ukraine. Apparently non-Muslim Europeans believe in their cause and their principles enough to be willing to make entirely un-pragmatic sacrifices; sacrifices that are fundamentally at odds with the school of political realism and school of pragmatism in international relations, to actually demonstrate that Europe and the West are an ideological civilization, and that even steep sacrifices are worthwhile for their system of belief.

Muslims – the people who inherited the Qur'an, a book of principles and ideals, and the people who have been honored by the Prophet Muhammad, the man who lived and died for ideals – have become slavish beings to the idea of material pragmatism, so much so that we are not even willing to bear the most minimal sacrifices to honor the root and foundation of their Father Abraham, and the center point of Al Isra wa Miʿraj for the Prophet Muhammad.

As I have said in previous khutbahs, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem in general, has always been a point of contention between East and West. At the times that the West has dominated Jerusalem, it dominated it in the name of the Romanized World. It was an ethnic racial domination. And every time that the West has dominated Jerusalem, it practiced its brand of racism against Easterners. After Easterners had lost control of Jerusalem for centuries, they only regained control of Jerusalem under the banner of Islam, the most comprehensive and inclusive of all the religions and of all the Abrahamic religions in particular.

How did we get to the point that an Israeli group is inviting Israelis to come on Jerusalem Day to begin the demolition of Al-Aqsa Mosque? Let me underscore that we know that the Israelis deliver on what they talk about. We know from 1948 that what begins as loose talk by the Israelis, they will eventually accomplish. We know that because we have lost the West Bank and Gaza after they have talked about Haaretz Israel [lit. “The Land of Israel”] for decades, as well as the Golan Heights, which was also imagined to be parts of Haaretz Israel. They practically have a free hand and free political authority and control in Sinai today.

How do we get to the point that we have a declaration that says, "The destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque will commence?" If we can call the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain, Oman and Sudan, which all have a treaty now with Israel, if we can call all these leaders traitors, how do we explain the silence of Muslim institutions around the world? How do we explain the fact that most Muslims are not even aware that there is a very serious call to begin the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque on the 29th? How do we explain the silence of Muslims in khutbahs today across the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds?

How do we explain the fact that there will be jumu’as in the United States by many khatibs and that this, if not the only khutbah, will be one of very few khutbahs that talk about the proclaimed beginning of the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque? These people have made it very clear, they are actually going to rent the equipment. They are going to show up. And yes, this time, the police will likely prevent them from beginning the destruction, but we know that with persistence, they do what they start out to do. They accomplish what they start out to accomplish.

It is not just that. We live in a world that confronts Muslims day after day with existential questions about the relations that they have to their own faith and to the Qur'an. We all know about the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was assassinated in cold blood. We all know that Shireen Abu Akleh was an American Citizen. We all know that from 2000 until now, about 50 Palestinian journalists have been killed by Israelis. We all saw that during the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh, her funeral procession was attacked and the bearers of the coffin were beaten. Even worse, after the funeral procession, Israel went after those who were carrying the coffin and arrested them.

Shireen Abu Akleh was a journalist. Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by the Saudi government, was also a journalist. The individual who drew offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and was assassinated by a fanatic was also a journalist, and when a journalist who draws obscene cartoons of the Prophet is assassinated, the entire world is outraged and very serious questions about the relationship of Muslims to freedom of speech is raised. We even have moronic Muslims who abandon their faith, who are overtaken by a sense of embarrassment and guilt about their religious cohorts, who leave Islam altogether. The murder of Khashoggi by his own state is taken as a very serious human rights violation, maybe not as serious as killing the person who drew the offensive cartoons, but no one talks about Israel's relationship to freedom of speech or human rights.

Israel has already announced that it will conduct new no investigation in the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh, because it does not see any evidence of possible criminal conduct. Israel has already announced killing another Palestinian journalist with no consequence is not even worth investigating. Another article that I read talks about how when Israel bombed Gaza, killing hundreds of civilians including children, that much of the property that Israel targeted and destroyed was property constructed using US Dollars.

They targeted the water treatment centers that UNRWA, the Palestinian Refugee Agency belonging to the UN, had built for Palestinians in Gaza. UNRWA built these water treatment facilities using American money. Israel targeted these facilities and destroyed them. Israel targeted a Coca-Cola Manufacturer. Israel targeted hospitals that American money built through UNRWA. The US gave millions of dollars to a UN Agency, and that UN Agency built hospitals, schools, and water treatment facilities for Palestinians, which Israel promptly demolished. And not one single word of protest was uttered from the United States.

Not one single objection about the fact that these facilities that came from American money were destroyed by Israelis. Now the United States is again considering being put in that position, where UNRWA is saying, "If you do not give us the money to rebuild the water treatment facilities," telling America. Right now, 98% of water in Gaza is contaminated and children are dying in Gaza at alarming rates, and the US is embarrassed by the whole thing, but yet again, they give Israel a pass. I come back to, where are we? How could we as Muslims have become so inconsequential, so unimportant in the world we live in?

When God warns us in Surah Al-Rum – warns us in this natural, yet amazingly powerful way that only the Qur'an is capable of achieving – and invites us to reflect upon ourselves. God tells us about our own trends and psychological proclivities, that when God extends good to us and allows us a bit of victory, a bit of knowledge, a bit of wealth, it is not only that we become content, but we become arrogant and aloof. We enjoy whatever God has given us and think it is an entitlement, but we are also very quick to despair, to doubt, and to forget what a relationship between the Creator and the created means when God takes away anything from us.

God warns us that when corruption spreads on earth; when we have people like Shireen Abu Akleh killed and her funeral procession attacked and no one cares; when we have a country like the United States build hospitals and schools and water treatment facilities, and the Israelis come and demolish it there is not a voice of protest or objection; when we have Lehava chanting, "Death to Arabs," and no one calls this racist or ethnic bigotry, no one talks about supremacists and they announce that the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque will begin; meanwhile Muslims are going on their merry way. What happens when corruption [fasad] appears, as God says, in the oceans and on the lands by what people have themselves earned?

What can take us from this situation in which corruption spreads unchecked, because of what we have earned? God answers this in the preamble to verse 41. God says: Be kind and generous to your relatives. Does it stop there? No. Be kind and generous to the needy and the refugee, ie. the displaced. Do not live your life thinking, "Oh, the Palestinians lost their land. Not my problem." Do not live your life thinking, "Oh the Rohingyas are suffering a genocide, not my problem. The Uyghurs are suffering another genocide, not my problem."

God then reminds us in the most powerful and eloquent way: if your attitude towards life is to exist on this earth to multiply profits, to watch your bank account grow, to live in better and better quarters, to improve the car that you drive. If the center of your life is not riba - riba not just meaning “usury,” as we are accustomed to, but meaning if the focus of your existence is the “me” and “my comfort” and “my wellbeing,” then precisely what you have accomplished is that corruption will spread everywhere. What God wants from us in terms of material things is an attitude of zakat. Zakat here means purification; the primary goal of what I possess is to purify myself and to purify the world that I live in. It is a complete shift in consciousness. I do not own money to purchase material things, I own money to purify myself, to purify society, and to purify the world I live in.

Let me spell it out. Lehava is typical of the racist, colonial, settler Zionist organizations. If we had this attitude towards money, we would immediately find Muslims left and right saying, "How can I allow this corruption [fasad]; how could I allow for anyone to violate the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque this way?" When Lehava attempts to organize the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque, we would immediately find tons of Muslims willing to dedicate their entire life to defending the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque and we would find an equal number of Muslims willing to fund them so that they can dedicate their entire life to defending Al-Aqsa Mosque in whatever way possible, either through politics, through banking, through finance, or through scholarship.

Our relationship, although God repeatedly elevates our thinking and tells us, "Look to the moral and ethical issues that plague your day, and look to your izzah (dignity), and look to the dignity of Islam itself," we Muslims have turned our religion exactly like the Israelites did, into the play field for petty, small minds, preoccupied with small things. We have turned our God into the type of God that would say, "Oh, Al-Aqsa Mosque is being violated? Al-Aqsa Mosque is at risk of being destroyed? It is okay, as long as you are doing your prayers on time, and you are doing wudu correctly." What a petty God that is.

A God that would say, "I am pleased with you! Although my Al-Aqsa Mosque is going to be destroyed, I am pleased with you," because you preoccupy your mind with the smallest of details. This is a reflection of the God of the Qur'an, Who is always calling upon us to rise up to higher principles, to make ourselves count in this world before the Hereafter, to defend the dignity and honor of God and Islam. Yet we constantly turn our God into something petty.

God cares about whether a woman covers her hair, but apparently does not care if the Al-Aqsa Mosque is about to be torn down? You will find that all of this is going on, and Muslims still have the psychological and mental capacity to lose sleep over whether they are supposed to wear hijab or not. This is psychopathy. This is actually offensive to God. The God who taught us that if you do not think of the money you make as the means for purifying yourself and purifying the world; if your attitude towards your money is, "It is my money and I get to spend it whatever way I want," people will adopt that and think, "What is important is whether I wear hijab or not." No, what is far more important is your attitude towards your money, towards your time, towards Al-Aqsa Mosque, towards those who are allowed to live with the injustice that is consistently committed in this world all around you.

Remember this image well, because when it comes to reality and when these excavators, in due time, start destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque, I have vowed I will not answer from any Muslim any question about the idiotic minutia that preoccupies their minds and souls. When this begins, I will never talk about the technicalities of wudu, of prayer or of fasting. I will never talk about the technicalities of anything, because as far as I am concerned, we are cursed. When this begins, it does not matter. It just does not matter.

*****

“Are you saying that I should work and give up all my money to fund lobbying organizations that work on changing the dynamics of power in the US Congress?” 

“Are you saying that I should work and give up all my money to organizations that respond to Islamophobia, that return the gaze about things like the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh?” 

“Are you saying that I should work night and day to make money, and then give up most of this money to those who work inside the American Government, making sure that Congress actually follows the laws that they passed, that would hold Israel accountable for destroying facilities that America built?” 

“Are you saying all of that?” Yes, that is precisely what I am saying.

How have we reached the point that there are a hundred million Muslims in Egypt, right next door to Israel, who are entirely ineffective? There might as well be a thousand Muslims in Egypt, because the hundred million Muslims in Egypt are useless, are of no consequence. How could we have a country as populous as Pakistan, the hundreds of millions of Muslims in Pakistan, and they could as well be a thousand Muslims, because they are entirely ineffective, useless, and of no consequence in this world. Do you think this happens because we understand our God correctly? Do you think that this happens because we have a healthy relationship with our Qur'an? If your answer is yes, then there is something really wrong with your faith, because God promised us that if we are with God, God is with us.

How could we have hundreds of millions of Muslims in Iran? Again, other than the rhetoric, does Israel really think, even for a second, about Iran before violating the sanctity of Al-Aqsa repeatedly? Absolutely not. Does Lehava believe that God is with them as they plan to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque? Absolutely yes. Do they have any fear of Muslims around the world? Absolutely not. We have turned our God into a petty, small-minded, narrow-minded, ignorant god. We have made our God obsessed with wudu, but uninterested in the fate of Al-Aqsa Mosque. How unbelievable. But dire times need dire consequences. We do not live in an age where it is okay to just give what is excess. We do not live in an age where you can be number one and spend on satisfying your own desires and then donate what is excess. Dire times need dire solutions.

There are those who were too cowardly to dedicate their lives to Islam, and so they went into the physical sciences because they wanted to ensure an earning and a livelihood. I am talking about those people who become medical doctors, computer scientists, specialists in whatever field, and on the side, they are imams. On the side, they are specialists on God's will, on the Qur'an, and on Islamic Law. We must have too much respect for our religion to allow this to continue.

When these people had a choice, they chose to commit their lives to a field of knowledge that ensures them a level of income and a standard of livelihood. But the soldiers of God are addicted to sacrifice from the very beginning. From the very beginning, they do not think about their earning potential. They do not think about what jobs they are going to get. They do not think about what women are going to accept them in marriage. The soldiers of God think about only one thing: Sacrifice. So they commit themselves to learning Shari'a, the Qur'an, and the Hadith. It is we who create our leaders. If you look around and you see the world is corrupt, God tells us, "This is what you have earned through your own deeds."

This haunts me, because I know that these people have actually achieved every single time what they told us they plan to achieve. The sense of shame that this would happen in my lifetime is unbearable, is incomprehensible. It is unbearable. I pray that God allows me to keep my sanity and my rationality as I live with the minute to minute sense of intense anxiety, because the curse that will come upon Muslims from allowing this to happen is far greater than any curse that Muslims could have imagined falling upon them. If this happens, nothing we do will be blessed. Nothing we do is worth talking about.

I wish that Muslims would ask themselves a very simple question. For any so-called imam, organization or institution that meets today for jumu’a and chooses to continue to ignore the violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque, you as a Muslim have the obligation and duty to take a stand, to tell such an organization, "Since you are not committed to what really matters, since you do not have your sense of priorities straight, I will no longer be following you." Maybe if our imams and our so-called leaders felt pressure from those who follow them, it will induce them to change.

The Launch of USULI PRESS and The Prophet's Pulpit: Commentaries on the State of Islam by Khaled Abou El Fadl
23 April 2022
Dalia's Corner
Salaams!

This week, I wanted to share a short clip that was recently posted on the Usuli Institute YouTube page, in which Dr. Abou El Fadl discusses the fundamental link between justice and our relationship with God. Upholding justice is a common theme in the Usuli khutbahs, and with good reason. As explained in the video below, a strong relationship with God and with Islam is not possible without a solid sense of justice. In a world where countless injustices occur every moment of every day, it is important to have small reminders such as these that we as Muslims must keep fighting for justice as a priority in our lives, and that failure to do so can have devastating effects.

Stay safe,
Dalia
dalia@usuli.org 
Why Is Justice Important to Allah?
USULI INSTITUTE EXCERPT
18 April 2022


WHAT HAPPENS AT USULI?
 


PRODUCING KNOWLEDGE: 
Between live-streamed weekly khutbahs, original English language Quranic commentary (tafsir) halaqas twice per week during the Project Illumine: Light of the Quran series, and a wealth of other free educational resources on our multimedia platforms, The Usuli Institute produces critical knowledge for Muslims to navigate the challenges of our world while anchored in the timeless moral and ethical virtues of our rich, nuanced and beautiful faith tradition.
 
PUBLISHING KNOWLEDGE: 
We are working towards publishing the first complete English Commentary on the Quran in the last 40+ years insha'Allah (God willing)! This would be a major achievement and legacy for future generations to be able to reconnect with God's Book in a meaningful and modern way, but it will take a massive investment of time and money. Transcription, editing and publishing costs will be completely donor-funded. Currently, we spend over $1500 per week on transcription costs alone between two halaqas and our weekly khutbah. We offer all of our virtual content for free. 
 
PRESERVING KNOWLEDGE: 
The Usuli Institute is home to one of the largest private collection of Islamic intellectual sources - over 100,000 books and counting. Help to preserve the Usuli Institute Library and its books for future generations of scholars. Its holdings span the humanities, law, ethics, comparative religion and original Arabic sources covering a broad range of topics across the Islamic intellectual tradition. 

Supporting knowledge is the most blessed and important struggle (jihad) for our faith. Multiply your blessings by supporting knowledge at The Usuli Institute. All donations are zakat-eligible and tax-deductible! We have three important projects ongoing that need your support. Pay It Forward and have your blessings multiplied for yourself and your loved ones. May Allah accept!
 
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Support The Usuli Institute

LAUNCHGOOD: Matching Gift Program for Qur'anic Tafsir Publication:
DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT!

DONATE HERE.

WHAT: Publishing a New English-language Commentary (Tafsir) on the Qur’an 

WHO: Tafsir by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of The Usuli Institute

WHEN: RAMADAN Matching Gift Program – DOUBLE YOUR BLESSINGS!

HOW: Every donation up to $52,500 will be matched dollar for dollar by a generous donor!

WHERE: The Usuli Institute (www.usuli.org) This English commentary project first kicked off in the summer of 2020 when Dr. Abou El Fadl decided to teach his approach to the Qur’an through a series of classes (halaqas) called Project Illumine. Since then, the project has grown substantially with an international audience tuning in weekly to view the halaqas for free on YouTube. The classes are currently ongoing, with 75 surahs covered since the start of the project. With each halaqa, the surahs are being transcribed by a professional transcription company and edited with the goal of publishing the first complete multi-volume Qur'anic commentary in over 40 years.

WHY THIS PROJECT IS IMPORTANT: It is a smart, beautiful, and common-sense approach to the Qur’an for an English-speaking audience, steeped in the Islamic tradition of ethics and morality. Dr. Abou El Fadl's commentary combines his vast knowledge of the classical tradition as well as contemporary thought, and offers spiritual, theological, and ethical insights. Most importantly, his commentary underscores the relevance of the Qur’an for our day and age. Social justice, human rights, women's rights, climate change and Islamophobia are just some topics touched upon in this tafsir.

WHY YOUR CONTRIBUTION IS IMPORTANT: The goal of this commentary is to reignite passion for the Qur’an and show that, as a living revelation, its message speaks directly to the issues Muslims are faced with today. 

TOTAL MATCHING GIFT GOAL: $52,500

WHAT YOUR DONATION WILL SUPPORT:

Costs of Publication including:
Transcription
Editing
Printing
Book Interior and Cover Design 
Publishing House
Labor

ABOUT DR. KHALED ABOU EL FADL

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl is the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law, and one of the world’s leading authorities on Shari'ah, Islamic law, and Islam. He was also formerly the Chair of the Islamic Studies Interdepartmental Program at UCLA.  He has served on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch. Among his many honors and distinctions, Dr. Abou El Fadl received the University of Oslo Human Rights Award in 2007, and the 2020 Martin Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion by the American Academy of Religion (AAR). A prolific scholar and prominent public intellectual, Dr. Abou El Fadl is the author of Reasoning with God: Reclaiming Shari'ah in the Modern Age; The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists; Speaking in God’s Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women; Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law; And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses; Islam and the Challenge of Democracy; The Place of Tolerance in Islam; and The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books. 

ADOPT A SURAH:

NINETY-ONE surahs have already been adopted to date! Some AMAZING surahs that we have already covered in Project Illumine are still available to be sponsored! Adopt a Surah is your chance to sponsor the publication of a chapter of the Project Illumine Tafsir, and earn special blessings for anyone who benefits from the knowledge of the tafsir, and your "adopted" surah in particular! To check what surahs are still available, click here. Join this very special and blessed group of sponsors!

For More Learning

QUICK LINKS:

We have covered seventy out of one hundred fourteen surahs though Project Illumine! For Quick Links to all of the surahs and halaqas we have presented at Usuli, click here.

We have been giving Weekly Virtual Friday Khutbahs since January 2019! For Quick Links to all previous Friday khutbahs, click here:

JOIN OUR INTERACTIVE GROUP:

Interested in getting more connected at the Usuli Institute? Apply to be a part of our Project Illumine Interactive Group! As a member, you will join us virtually online so that Dr. Abou El Fadl can see you, and possibly answer your questions during the halaqa sessions. We have a limited number of spaces available, please email us at info@usuli.org and tell us about yourself (your background, interests, how you came across the Usuli Institute, and anything else you would like to share!) As a member of the interactive group, you can submit questions through the chat function during the Q&A, and these get priority after the Project Illumine Fellows who are attending in person. Also, after the halaqa if time permits, we try to spend a little time connecting with members of the interactive group to say hello and connect virtually at a personal level.

FOR MORE LEARNING:

Check out our websites which include scholarly archives and more!

www.usuli.org 
www.searchforbeauty.org

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