Part 1 of 3: In the introduction, Director Grace Song shares stories about the place and power of knowledge in the Muslim experience, especially as an American convert confronting "Modern Day Muslim Urban Myths." She answers the question of how her life is better after becoming a Muslim; what a typical week looks life in the cause of knowledge; and the economic fallout from not investing in knowledge. She and Dr. Abou El Fadl talk about saving Islamic manuscripts. Dr. Abou El Fadl gives insight into the devastation against Islamic manuscripts and what it means for decolonizing Islam. He discusses the current state of the Muslim world and how Muslim countries are effectively paying jizya to the West for its protection. Usuli Institute Halaqa, July 14, 2018.
"...To win this very real war that has done inestimable damage to so many Muslims and to the truth of the Islamic faith, it is absolutely imperative that moderates declare a counter-jihad against the puritan heresy. This is not a call for the shedding of blood; it is a call for matching the zeal of puritans through unrelenting intellectual activism. This is a counter-jihad to reclaim the truth about the Islamic faith and win the hearts and minds of Muslims and non-Muslims all around the world..."
Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists
Building upon the foundations of the rich and nuanced Islamic jurisprudential tradition, we apply God's timeless moral imperatives to our current world to advance human knowledge, challenge the status quo, and set a new standard for beauty, reasonableness and goodness in the world.
The Islamic tradition at once inspired Muslims to be at the forefront of human discovery and knowledge. Today, Muslims have been left behind in virtually all global conversations and play no role in the moral leadership of our times. By returning to the foundational virtues of the Islamic tradition, we seek to rekindle the spirit of exploration, renew the commitment to knowledge, and represent a moral message that inspires the world.
As part of a dynamic and evolving tradition, Islamic jurisprudence must produce meaningful, relevant and beautifully appropriate prescriptions for each time, place and context it affects. We do not believe that God intended to confine Muslims or humanity to Islam's seventh century origins or meanings for all ages to come. We believe it is a collective duty to reinvestigate and apply the moral trajectory of the Islamic message to modern problems confronting humanity today to elicit the most compelling and virtuous approaches.
Islamic intellectual contributions must challenge, engage and inspire the other intellectual traditions of our times, religious or secular. It is not good enough only to speak to other Muslims. As an academic-based institution, our output must both meet and exceed the highest global standards of scholarship, and as importantly, offer authentic insights true to the humanistic values of the faith we represent.