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This Past Week at The Usuli Institute (4 - 10 March 2022)
Original English Commentary
Project Illumine
USULI EXCERPT: Analyzing Reactions to Russia's Invasion of Ukraine: Lessons to Muslims
KHUTBAH: Intimacy with God and the Truth of the World Laid Bare (Summary Below) 3.4.2022
USULI EXCERPT: Surah 17: Al Isra' on Mecca, Jerusalem and the Monotheism of Islam
Grace's Message

Fervent Greetings of Peace dear Friends,

I pray that you are safe, healthy, and well in these challenging times. This week, I had the great honor and blessing of having a very unusual conversation with my friend, fellow convert, and long-time Usuli supporter, Cameron Lee. Cameron is 38 and has been battling cancer since 2016. We were very saddened to learn that he recently found out his liver is failing. His doctors are not optimistic that he will have much more than a month or two to live. 

It is a serious test and yet also a blessing to know that the end of your life is before you. Cameron agreed to have an open and frank conversation with me about his conversion, life, death and reflections on the Muslim experience. I told a little bit of his story back in 2018 in my introduction to the third Usuli halaqa, and shared that he had found Dr. Abou El Fadl's work while he was in high school. Although Cameron would come to believe that Islam was the true message, he did not want to give up certain comforts like pork and alcohol, so he held off from converting so as not to officially break any rules. If he hadn't officially taken the shahada, he told himself, then he was not "officially" committing a sin by continuing his lifestyle practices. As he shares in our conversation, this continued for sixteen years until he felt that God gave him an ultimatum through giving him cancer - time to choose between whether he preferred his Hereafter or his whiskey (!). He chose wisely. :)

On Life at Death: An Usuli Institute Conversation with Cameron Lee and Grace Song, 6 March 2022

It was a touching, heartfelt and sometimes serious conversation, in particular when he shared a vivid dream about his death. It is a reminder of how precious life is and how meaningful - it definitely put things in perspective. I hope you will watch and let me know your thoughts!

Please keep Cameron in your prayers! Also, if anyone can help me with this favor, I would be forever grateful! I would love to grant Cameron a wish that we have talked about for as long as I have known him. He has always wanted a dog, but has never had the opportunity between work and illness. I have been looking for a way to have a therapy dog pay Cameron a visit or two (or more) in the Sterling, VA area, but have not had any luck finding any options yet. If you know anyone in the Sterling, VA area that either has a therapy dog connection, or just a sweet dog that would like to bring a kind human being some doggie love, please get in contact with me! :) I am certain it would be an opportunity to earn serious blessings! 

Next Sunday, March 20th at 4 pm EST, we will be holding our virtual Q&A event on: Sexual and Spiritual Abuse: Dispelling Myths from an Islamic Perspective, Q&A with Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl. 

It has become clear that this is a serious and pervasive problem in our community that does not often get addressed because of the sensitive and taboo nature of the topic, which thrives in darkness and silence at the expense of victims. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the Islamic obligations of the community, those in positions of leadership, brother to brother, sister to sister and every other complex relationship in between. We thought it would be extremely valuable to hold a curated Q&A with Shaykh Abou El Fadl to elevate our collective understanding on some of the most commonly held misconceptions and frequently asked questions about our role and responsibilities as ethical Muslims. You may recall that Dr. Abou El Fadl spoke candidly and powerfully about these issues in two previous khutbahs entitled, "The Unspoken Truth (Haqq) About Sexual Abuse and the Rights of Victims," and "What Occupies Your Heart? And More On Wolves in Shaykhs' Clothing." 

Please join us for what promises to be a powerful and transparent conversation as you can imagine and have come to expect from Shaykh Abou El Fadl. 

Last week's khutbah was out of this world! One friend called it a "face-melter"! :) I am looking forward to today's khutbah and tomorrow's continuation (Day 8!) of the revolutionary Surah 4: Al Nisa'. Hope you will join us online!

Please keep all of us in your prayers as we continue on our mission to complete and publish this entire Project Illumine tafsir in book form! May God keep you safe and protected and on the most beautiful path always! Wishing you a blessed weekend and hope to see you online soon insha'Allah!

In Peace and Hope,

Grace Song
Executive Director
The Usuli Institute



Find the links to articles and references mentioned in Usuli khutbahs and more!

Great independent news sources for an alternative to corporate funded media:
CJ Werleman's Patreon Page (includes Pepe Escobar, Sharmine Narwani) Matt Taibbi, a very seasoned journalist (Rolling Stone Magazine), publishes on a variety of topics. an independent media outlet promoted by Chris Hedges.

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


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See you online soon insha'Allah! :)

Khutbah Summary Description
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, Founder of The Usuli Institute and
Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
4 March 2022

There are those who understand that their relationship with their Lord, with God, is the most personal thing in their universe. It is the most central thing, valuable and valued thing. It cannot be replicated, compared or reproduced. The relationship of a believer with their Maker is extremely personal and individual, as individual as one’s genetic code, or even more. It is the most truthful, real, honest and sincere thing in existence. Yet at the same time, it is the thing that we most easily falsify. It is the most easily ignored, corrupted and misunderstood thing in our existence.

The personal relationship of a human being to their maker is one of trust, and it is a trust like no other. It is what we exist in, every waking moment; what we exist in, even in our sleep; what we exist in, even when no one else is around us, when no other human being can see us. God reminds us that God is closer to us than our jugular vein; that wherever we are, God is with us, closer to us than our jugular vein. Try to exist anywhere without your jugular vein. If we are stressed, excited or moved, the first thing we do feel is the flow of blood within our bodies. Our bodies testify to our affairs constantly, as God is embedded in us closer than our blood to ourselves. One’s existence with God can be a testimony as intimate and as personal as the flow of blood within our bodies. The remarkable thing, though, is that our blood does not have a choice as it testifies to our affairs in life, but we do have a choice whether to acknowledge God’s embeddedness in our very spirit, our very intellect, in the flow of our very blood. Or, we can choose to ignore God. 

Remarkably, so many people choose an escape route. They objectify this relationship in terms of a set of settled upon laws, settled upon within their own intellect. They imagine that God is reducible to a set of hard and fast truths. They imagine that God is dealt with as long as they perform their prayers and fasts, and take care of particular performative acts. Then alas, that is done with that. They defined and bracketed the role for God. But of course, they are delusioned. They live the heart of a lie. God cannot be locked within simple performative acts and we cannot lie to God. If you do not feel God's company, you cannot lie to God and say, "Indeed, I feel your company." If you do not acknowledge God's pervasiveness in all your affairs, in the breath that you take, in every move, in every thought, in every molecule that surrounds you, you cannot lie to God.

The remarkable thing is that that is the choice. We either choose to live in the full gaze of truth, dealing with the challenges of this truth, or we choose to deceive ourselves because there is no deceiving God. We can choose to acknowledge God's pervasiveness when it suits us, acknowledge God's pervasiveness when we are tested, acknowledge God's pervasiveness, or when mood swings take us there. It is all various levels of deception. In the same way that blood flows through within us, it does not flow sometimes and stop flowing at other times. Imagine, God is more intimate, more essential and more pervasive than the blood that flows within. Blessed are those who testify to the truth of their Lord, because we live in a truly challenging world. We live in a world in which a Muslim has to be anchored and fully conscious of that personal relationship they have with their maker.

We live in a world that - through centuries and centuries of malfeasance, negligence, error, misjudgment, and ignorance - challenges the intellect and the soul of a Muslim at every waking moment. In this world, Muslims need to be fully aware that their relationship with God is not contingent or somehow derivative from, not just human beings, but especially what other Muslims do. If we lose sight of the fact that our relationship with God is fully yours and within; and we allow for the contingencies of the unfolding world around us, especially what other Muslims do, to influence us and perhaps even define our relationship with God, then we have fallen in the abyss of fitan. Fitan is a word that the Prophet warned us about, though, in a typically misogynistic way, we have turned fitan to be about women. Or, in a typically oligarchical way, we have turned fitan to be about those who rebel against unjust rulers. In reality, fitan are the things that alienate us from our Lord. The things that make one feel, “I am Muslim, I know God, but I do not feel God,” and from that, all types of unhealthy things unfold. 

Personally, the recent events involving the invasion of Ukraine have been among the most challenging in my life, because these events were brutal in the truth that it presented us with. These events are like an act from God, stripping bare the world we live in and confronting us with an ugly picture, but only for those who see. At the basic level is what I touched upon in my last khutbah. These events revealed an uncompromisingly racist world.

Someone sent me an email about my last khutbah, saying, “You were right. The coverage of Ukraine is racist,” and attached clips from various news agencies. Of course, on NBC, we find  someone commenting on what is happening in Ukraine saying, "These are Christian, white people. These are not Middle Eastern people, or people from Afghanistan or Syria. These are Christian, white people,” and so our response has to be very different. On BBC, we have  someone that says, "These are blue eyed, blond haired people. They are not Syrian, Afghan or Iraqi refugees; these people are us.” On Al Jazeera, someone said, “These are prosperous middle class, European people; just like people that live next door to us. These are not some third world, underdeveloped people from a third world, underdeveloped country.” On CBS, someone said, “These are civilized, European people. They are not refugees from some third world, underdeveloped country like Iraq or Afghanistan. So yes, these events reveal to us in a vulgar way, as it reveals an amazingly racist Europe.

Not only is it our response to refugees, not only is it the fact that Romanian and Polish authorities have forced African, Middle Eastern and Asian, especially south Asian, students who are studying in Ukraine and running from the war to give up their seats to white Ukrainians, and to further mistreat these students at the border. And there are numerous reports of gross mistreatment. Not only is it this type of racial discrimination, but the very narrative itself. When it comes to, as these commentators put it, “civilized, Christian, white, blue eyed, blond people,” we recognize and celebrate that they love their country, and that they are heroes. We do not do as we did with Bosnia, where we imposed a weapons embargo that solely impacted the Bosnians and allowed the Serbs to slaughter them comfortably. We do not do as we did in Bosnia, saying, "We want peace, so we are going to impose a weapons embargo." We do not do as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan, speaking about those who resist occupation as “fanatics,” “psychotics,” and “extremists.” We do not say, “Why are they resisting? They are there to civilize them after all, to teach them whatever we are supposed to teach them.” Like typical colonial discourse, it is deeply racist.

But it is not only this. Remember we criminalized any Muslims who thought to come to the aid of their fellow Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere. That includes any Muslim who thought to volunteer to fight the invading Russians in Syria, including Americans in Iraq and of Afghanistan; but not only that, there are Muslims who thought of resistance in Chechnya, in Kashmir or in China, and we designated all such Muslims as terrorist organizations. People wrote endless books about the dangers of jihad ideology, meanwhile, Ukraine reports that they are receiving volunteers to go to war fighting for Ukraine from all around the Western world and we clap and admire. There is no talk about Christian fanaticism, there are no documentaries about the role of Jesus in those who decide to volunteer to go to war.

There are no reports about those who believe that if they die fighting the Russians, they die as martyrs and that Jesus will be there at the gates of heaven to receive them. None of that. It is as if we are living in the heart of the 18th and 19th centuries, with blatant, open, bare racism. It is not that I am offended by how we are standing up for Ukraine. I am offended that we are not applying these same standards for Palestine, for Iraq, for Afghanistan, for any Muslim population, for that matter. When it comes to Muslims in their countries, we see the typical colonial, racist tropes. A good Muslim is a Muslim who informs upon their own people. A good Muslim is a Muslim who is ashamed of the mainstream fellow Muslims. A good Muslim is a Muslim who recognizes that they are fundamentally flawed and therefore is complicit with us, and essentially a traitor to his own people.

Of course, these are not the standards we apply to Ukraine. This is not what is the true fitnah for me. The real fitnah for me, and this is old news, is that we live in a racist, colonial, imperial world that has not changed in centuries, but that God simply allowed the masks to be taken off. If only Muslims would notice and learn. What is deeply troubling and life altering is what it exposes and what it tells us about us. Look at the way all of Europe reacted to the situation in Ukraine. As I witnessed the way countries such as Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany reacted, what comes to my mind is the hadith of the Prophet, that the Muslim Ummah is a single body. If one part is hurt, the entire body reacts. Article V of NATO states: “If you attack one of us, you have attacked all of us.”

There is the whole discussion about, “Ukraine is not a member of NATO. But maybe we can then arm Ukraine, feed Ukraine, do everything for Ukraine, but not fight.” But if you dare attack any member of NATO, then all bets are off. Did they attend a seminary in Qom, Iran, to learn how to be unified? To learn how to actually translate what the Prophet said about a single Ummah? What is a real fitnah? Suddenly all the talk about how when it comes to international relations, “the prevailing law is the law of political realism, not ideology,” comes to an end. Major businesses immediately withdrew from Ukraine, taking enormous financial losses.

Gulf Company announces it is divesting from Russia. This company announces it is divesting from Russia, that company announces it is divesting from Russia. Where is all that talk about how, when it comes to politics, it is only realism that works? Here, there are thoroughly ideological people reacting at a thoroughly ideological level. They are actually sacrificing - making huge financial sacrifices - because of what they believe in. Not only that, but Disney decides it is canceling the release of movies, Facebook decides it is withdrawing, European sports teams announce that they refuse to play Russian teams, artists cancel performances in Russia. I think back to when the Emirates announced that they were going to have sporting events with the Israelis and we said, “What about Jerusalem? What about the Palestinians?” and we were told by a chorus of Muslim pseudo intellectuals that it is uncivilized to mix politics with sports. Politics is one thing, but sports is another. When we talked about imposing real financial sanctions against those who supported the annexation of Jerusalem, we were lectured ad nauseam about political realism and how business is one thing, politics is another. That it is only the religious fanatics, those crazy fundamentalists, who do not understand the world of political realism.

What are we going to say to God, who is closer to us than the jugular vein? Let us compare the reaction of the non-believer Europeans about their fellow non-believers in the Ukraine, to the reaction of us Muslims about Palestinians, the Rohingyas, the Bosnians, the Uyghurs, the Kashmiris, and to top it all, about Al-Quds. If this does not wake you up, then in my view, there is no hope for you as a Muslim. If this does not shape your world, if this does it make you say, “Thank God that I lived to see all the lies exposed in my lifetime,” there is no hope for you as a Muslim.

Banks divest, not because of political realism, but because of principle - the type of principled behavior that we could not bear to bring about Al-Aqsa. So what does that tell me? I have lost faith in all Muslim institutions and organizations. I have lost faith in all the Dar al Ifta. I have lost faith in Al-Azhar and every other institution like Al-Azhar. I am now at a point of certitude about the fisq and fujur of every government that is in power in the Muslim world. I have even lost faith in the law, because the law is the refuge of the hypocrite and the cowardly.

Everyone who wants to feel like a good Muslim, while their soul is corrupted and foul, finds refuge in the law. As long as they follow the law, one can ignore the foul degradation and stink of their soul. It stinks to high heaven, but that does not matter, as long as they can hide in the ostentation of the law. There are non-believers declaring jihad, coming to the aid of their fellow. non-believers. May God bless them, they have principles. In the Muslim world, all those Muslims who thought of coming to aid of their fellow Muslims ended up in prisons, written on designated terrorists lists. They ended up in Guantanamo or detained in some country.

When all those Muslims talked about boycotting France when it insulted the Prophet, what was the response of all the institutions? “Come on, be civilized. Think, freedom of speech.” Where is freedom? Europe just banned RT, the Russian news agency, from broadcasting in Europe because of the offensive lies of RT. Where are all the heroes that lecture ad nauseam about how Muslims respect freedom of speech? We did not hear a peep from them. We live in a world where the United Arab Emirates abstained from condemning the invasion of Ukraine in the security council and the United States was very upset about the UAE’s abstention, but the American government knew that they did not carry weight with the Emirates like the Israelis do, so the White House contacted Israel and asked Israel to speak to the Emiratis, to get them not to abstain in the general assembly. Indeed, the Israelis and told the Emiratis not to abstain in the general assembly vote against the invasion of Ukraine. And this is why the United Arab Emirates voted to condemn the invasion in the general assembly, but not in the security council.

Israel. Not real politics, not values, not principles, not fellow Muslims, not even in America, Israel. I forgot whether it was the live news feed from the French channel, or the British Sky News, but a media channel showed a report about a brave Ukrainian child who stood up to a Russian soldier, hurling insults at the Russian soldier and even threatening to punch him. As I watched this, I went insane. My memory kept telling me, "Where have I seen this before?" Lo and behold, God sent an article my way that nearly made me fold and cry. I was right. There was a Palestinian girl, Ahed Tamimi. When she was 11 years old, in 2012, she challenged an Israeli soldier. What broke my heart is that this same girl, when she was 16 years old, was sentenced to prison in Palestine.

Of course, we did not care about her, as an 11 year old challenging an Israeli. We did not care about her as a 16 year old thrown in prison. We only cared about co-opting and usurping the image of a brave child against a fully armed soldier, co-opting it for Ukraine, not for Palestine. Why can we do that? Why can the forces of evil do that? Why are the forces of lie and deception capable of doing that? Because Muslims are sitting idly by, arguing about law, hiding behind law, camouflaging behind law; because Muslims see the immorality and they do not stand up to the immorality of their fellow Muslims. It is amazing. Muslims are very good about saying, “Brothers, sisters, donate to build the masjid. May God allow us to build the masjid.” That is what Muslims are good for. But will Muslims build institutions of truth, of power, institutions that empower the truth? No, instead, we build a masjid, so that we can segregate women to one side and men to another side.

As the entire world expresses outrage about what is happening in Ukraine, throwing real politik and political realism to the side and says, "We are about principles. Raise the price of oil, fine, we will stand for principle. Raise the price of wheat, fine, we will stand for principle. Divest banks in Russia, we stand by principle. We will lose money in the entertainment industry, we stand by principle." As the world does that, when it comes to Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa, they say, "Oh, Brother, be realistic. Civilized people are about political realism.”

Another article tells us that since Biden came to power, Israel has demolished over 1,000 Palestinian homes. More demolitions have happened since Biden came to power than what had been done in the entire Trump era. Of course, Trump is complicit, because without the Trumpian decision to move the American embassy and to force “the deal of the century” and Kushner and his foul friendship with MBS, none of this would have been possible. Nevertheless, Israel has demolished more than 1,000 homes since Biden came to power. What is the reaction of Saudi Arabia, the “Guardian of the two holy sites”? Zero. Closer and intimate relations with Israel. What are the actions of the Egyptians? Zero. Sisi cannot stop praising the Israelis at every juncture. What are the actions of other Muslims? Israel has a peace treaty with Sudan, a peace treaty with Morocco, a special treaty with Oman, a special treaty with Bahrain, and the mother of them all, the United Arab Emirates, who cannot get in bed quick enough with any force or power that is hostile to Muslims and Islam. The part that truly breaks your heart is that the peons and the agents of the Emirates in the United States, in England, in New Zealand, all over Europe - all those people who are on the payroll of Emirates - do they feel any amount of blow back from their fellow Muslims about being agents of a country that has dedicated itself to the thorough deconstruction of all Muslim causes, from China, to India, to Jerusalem, to Palestine? Absolutely not.

“I can live on the payroll of the Emirate. I can enjoy Emirati largess. I can live it up. I can pretend to be a pious Muslim. And my popularity is not affected one iota.” Tell me how does that affect your own personal relationship with Allah? Tell me: for all these Muslims who admire the agents of the Emirates, or the scholars, the imams, and the religious figures, who all sold their souls to the Emirates and to Saudi Arabia, how does that affect their relationship to Allah that flows through their veins like their blood? Do they recognize the extent to which it makes them hypocrites, liars, deceivers, traitors? I honestly do not know. May God protect us from the fitan. 


Remarkable, when an 11 year old Palestinian girl challenges an Israeli soldier in 2011 - no one is admiring the nationalism of Palestinians, how Palestinians love their freedoms, how Palestinians care about their homes, how Palestinians love their mothers, love their fathers, how they are separated from their brothers. When the same girl is jailed a few years later at 16 years old, no one cares. She is not white. She is not Christian. She is blue-eyed and blonde, ironically, but it is not about skin color. Your race is your identity, but she passes. And so we can steal that image and leverage it, and we know we can get away with it, because Muslims do not exist. 

I talked last khutbah about a man named Adnan Ibrahim. Among the never ending fitan that confronts Muslims: listen to the lectures this man gave in 2011 and 2012. The man is condemning the dictators of Libya, of Egypt and of Saudi Arabia. The man is constantly talking about how authoritarianism and dictatorship has corrupted the soul of Islam. Fast forward to today, and something has happened to Adnan Ibrahim. I have been trying my best to learn the details but I have been unsuccessful. Something happened where he sold himself to the Saudis and the Emiratis, and he is suddenly praising MBS, MBZ and the Emirates. He used to consistently praise Hasan Farhan al Maliki and praise his scholarship. But ever since the imprisonment of Hasan Farhan al Maliki, Adnan Ibrahim has not said one word about the imprisonment of his friend, even though this man does not live in the Emirates or Saudi Arabia. He lives in Geneva.

So one may wonder, “What happened? Are they blackmailing him somehow? Is it really possible that it is just cash? Why is it that so many Muslims sell out for cash? Is it because law allows us the comfort of deception and camouflage? Is it because we can hide in the law and pretend that we are good Muslims, so we believe we are good Muslims? As I was watching some of the old videos of Adnan Ibrahim on YouTube, I was struck by how many commercials kept interrupting these videos. Among these commercials was one that came up for Prager University.

Prager University is a ridiculous conservative institution created by Dennis Prager, and it is not a university at all. It creates these documentaries to champion right wing agendas, to attack things like the concept of Islamophobia. And the commercial that played was a commercial by Prager University about how the real racists are people who stand up to white supremacy, and that Trump and company are not the racists. There are people who teach critical race theory and people who talk about racial injustices; those are the real racists. But while the Prager University commercial came up once, what kept coming up in video after video was this commercial by an organization called Know The Truth, which is, amazingly, a missionary organization dedicated to converting Muslims to Christianity.

The commercials on the Adnan Ibrahim YouTube channel that kept coming up are different folks in very well produced, short ad clips, that clearly cost money, that were clearly well filmed and well edited. They looked extremely professional. They featured people who claim to have been Muslims all their lives, who saw the light of Jesus, and converted to Christianity. I will assume that whoever is responsible for Adnan Ibrahim’s channel, considering how carefully he regulates and controls, is involved in this. But I will assume that they did not choose to have these missionary groups advertise on his channels.

Look at the level of the insult. Are we so powerless, so ineffective, in this world? It is already problematic that a clearly missionary group, dedicated exclusively to converting Muslims to Christianity, its content consisting of people testifying to the evils of Islam and how Jesus liberated them from the evils of Islam, are all over YouTube without a problem. But for them to invade the space of inner Muslim discourses, and we Muslims, including whoever is responsible for Adnan Ibrahim’s organization, is either unaware or unable to do anything about, is absurd. It is a true fitnah. I actually sat and watched every single video on Know the Truth’s site. The amazing thing is that I can completely imagine Muslims who simply get fatigued and exhausted from all the lies, the hypocrisy, and the weakness. And to think about the testimony of all these individuals who claim to have been Muslims and converted.

The very common thing to all of them is not their rational, deep discourse about how God can have a son with a virgin woman, and how that son is co-eternal with God. Some forms of Christianity, including the Protestant Christianity that prevails around here, believes that God did not actually create the son at any point. The son is co-eternal. But, in what way is that a son, if the father actually did not actually create that being? Why would he not just be another God, with God? Instead, they are one and the same. They are the same, but different. The mystery of the Trinity. It is a mystery. It is amazing, it is mind-boggling. They talk about how Jesus loves us, but if Jesus loves us so much, why is it that Jesus only saves those who believe in Jesus? If Jesus just loves human beings, if he truly loves human beings in the way that you describe love, why do we need to believe in Jesus to receive grace?

Jesus loves human beings, so, just forgive everyone, whether they believe in you or not. None of these videos address anything of substance. What they all talk about, video after video, is, "As a Muslim, I was unhappy, but when I met Christians, they loved on me." I did research on that idea, “they loved on me.” Well, these morons, like so many Muslim morons who convert to Christianity, did not do their homework and they do not understand that Missionaries are taught that the way to convert Muslims is to “love on them.”

It is not out of the generosity of their heart, it is not a natural impulse. It is actually a training technique, that when they find a Muslim, they are to pour love upon them. According to missionary manuals and the missionary literature about converting Muslims, if they and their spouse are fighting, even if they are separated, they are not to tell the Muslim they are separated. Bury your differences and disagreements, and “love on the Muslim.” Do not ever talk before a Muslim about how you are angry with this person, or how you are offended about what your neighbor did, or about the controversy that broke out in the church, do not ever bring up any of that around a Muslim, instead “love on them.” Give them food, give them gifts, constantly ask about them, constantly call them, text them, do everything, pour it on.

The creation, in the same way that we manufacture the image of Ahed Tamimi, the 11 year old girl, from a Palestinian to a Ukrainian, here we are manufacturing. How the minions of a loving Jesus translate into loving missionaries, surrounding that Muslim until the Muslim says, "It is such a wonderful world." All the videos that I watched, I heard, "As a Muslim, I could not feel God. But then Jesus, the Holy Spirit, came upon me. And I am so happy because Jesus is always with me. Love is always with me. Jesus loves me." Well, of course, Jesus lets the Palestinians, the Uyghurs and the Rohingyas suffer to no end. Jesus does not seem to have a lot of love for those who are not his followers, and he is not bothered by the hypocrisy of the missionaries, nor the racism and the colonialism of the missionaries.

This is precisely why your iman (faith) is such a personal thing. If your iman is affected by what the Emiratis do, what the people at Zaytuna do, by what Adnan Ibrahim does, by the imprisonments of Hasan Farhan al Maliki and Salman Al-Ouda, by the ugliness and hypocrisy of Sisi, by the ugliness and hypocrisy of Asad, by the criminality of MBS and of MBZ. If your iman is affected by the hypocrisy of the Islamic Center of Southern California, by the hypocrisy of Muslims in this or that institution, you have been walking down the wrong path. That is not what a relationship with God is about. My heart can break as I see the way Muslims have portrayed Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds. It enrages me, it angers me, I might even cry about it. But it does not touch my iman, in the same way that the existence of viruses and bacteria all around me does not make me scared of my own blood.

My relationship to my own blood is so intimate and so personal, because it is what sustains me. It is what gives me life. My relationship with God is even more personal, more essential, more unique, more singular, and more specific. I do not hide in the law. Performance, discharging the law, or violating the law is not what defines my relationship with God. What defines my relationship with God is the way that I feel God within, in every heartbeat, in every thought, the way I truly feel God's step next to mine, feel God's breath with my breath, in every second, in every instant. And in the age of deception, where we can steal the images of brave Palestinian girls, in the age of hypocrisy, where we can cry for some people because they are blond and  white, while thoroughly ignoring the misery of other people, in the age of treachery, where scholars and learned people sell their souls for money and prestige. In an age full of things that are truly fitan, we must hurry up and discover that personal relationship with God, because if we do not, the fitnah will catch up with you. And the garbage I heard spewed by the missionaries from the ads on Adnan Ibrahim's channel, Know the Truth, will actually affect some of us. 

Dalia's Corner

This week, I wanted to re-share a small clip from an older Usuli Institute Halaqa, in which Dr. Abou El Fadl answered the question, "How can the Islamic message be relevant in modern day?" Of course, we all know Islam is very relevant to today's world, but there are many who think the Qur'anic message and the lessons we can learn from the Prophet's (pbuh) life is not applicable to today's world, due to the age of these events. They happened when the world looked much different than the world we know today, so a message delivered in a time we seemingly have so little in common with could not still be relevant today. In the clip below, Dr. Abou El Fadl addresses this sentiment, and I believe it is also important for Muslims who already believe in Islam's relevancy today to hear, as it may serve as a reminder as to what ways the Islamic message is still relevant, and what we as Muslims should strive towards to properly appreciate its relevancy. 

Stay safe,
"How can the Islamic Message be Relevant in Modern Day?"
From Usuli Institute Halaqa: Surah 90 Al Balad, Q&A, 4 Apr 2020


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.
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. 
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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Even if you cannot join us in person, our superstar students are standing in for you doing the hard work of studying, transcribing and preparing the knowledge to be shared with future generations! Can you please help support their efforts? Check out our LaunchGood campaign to support Project Illumine:!/

Read what two attendees have to say about Project Illumine: 

“As a non-Arabic speaker, I have struggled with feeling excluded from understanding the full meaning of the Qur’an, because I have been told that it is a text that requires personal proficiency in Arabic. And the English translation only got me so far, so I never imagined I would have the opportunity to finally grasp the meaning and linguistic nuances of the teachings in the Holy Book. Project Illumine, with Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl’s in-depth teachings has not only made learning the Qur’an accessible, but also provided me with a safe learning space where there are no prerequisites to receiving knowledge.”

- Marwa B.

"For too long, our communities have experienced a disconnect with the Qur'an that has manifested in inadequate responses to injustice, and even a mischaracterization of the Islamic tradition to justify ugly acts of misogyny, tribalism, and racism.  But, less than one year in and the tafsir presented in Project Illumine has taught us the centrality of challenging the status quo, seeking the truth at all costs, and prioritizing principles over optics. I truly believe that, if properly internalized by Muslims, these lessons and more taught by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl will allow me to reclaim the Islamic message of ethics, morals and beauty in every action!"

- Rameen J.


Almost sixty surahs have already been adopted, and you can adopt your favorite one! To check the latest status on adopted and available surahs, click here.

For More Learning


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:


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 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.


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