"On Muslim Pharoahs, Terrorists and Recognizing the Straight Path"

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl begins by reminding us of the meaning, import and implications of the "straight path," al-siratal mustaqim, the phrase that Muslims recite more than any other as they recite the first chapter of the Quran, al-Fatiha, in every prayer and with a multitude of occasions. Despite reciting it frequently, Muslims infrequently reflect upon the depths of meaning the phrase contains. In seeking the divine path of justice, beauty, compassion and mercy, human beings have been given the revealed text, the historical text, rational intellects and an encoded intuitive sense of the divine, apparent even in babies and toddlers, but often obfuscated and corrupted by adulthood. We ask God in our prayers to alleviate this obfuscation and to keep us on the straight path, particularly challenging in our modern times. Dr. Abou El Fadl laments how far so-called Muslim leaders have strayed from this straight path, speaking of events from the past week, specifically the recent letters by various countries around the world, both in protest against and in support of the holocaust in China against the Uyghur Muslims. Shamefully, the vast majority of Muslim countries signed the letter in support of the Chinese holocaust. He recalls the Quranic warning that rulers like the Pharoah will exist who will assume the role of God, telling their subjects what they are "allowed" to believe, and then attempting to destroy all opposition in their midst--the exact same dynamic taking place with modern "Muslim" rulers who quash all dissent. In our day, those dissenters are labeled terrorists, and the charge of terrorism gives modern governments justification to freely continue their campaigns of torture, arrest, disappearance and killing of such dissenters, just as in the time of Pharoah. He shares recent examples of such killings in and by "Muslim" countries. He also tells the story of how the holy lands of the Prophet have now become the site for music concerts for which the keepers of the holy sites have lowered the price of visas for concert-goers while keeping the price of visas for umrah and Hajj at much higher levels. He reminds and warns that God has given many examples and signs in the Quran of those who are on the straight path and those who have strayed from that path. Delivered 19 July 2019.

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