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"How to Live the Philosophy of Islam"


As we enter the month of Dhu'l Hijjah, the month of the pilgrimage, Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl begins by recalling the legacy of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and the Prophet Muhammad, and the wording that the Quran uses to reshape our collective consciousness.  He delves into the meaning of the Arabic root word, Qiyam, which God in the Quran uses again and again to describe numerous acts, places, orientations and attitudes that are revealing to the core philosophy of the Islamic message. Although Muslims often use the words that derive from the root of this Arabic word to describe prayer or the act of praying, a deeper investigation and reflection reveals a more nuanced and expansive divine meaning and intent. From the time of the Prophet Ibrahim forward, the mission and message was to establish prayer, and for Muslims to rise fresh with vigor and to affirm the commitment to a philosophy of life that is divine-centered. Prayer, and further, the establishment of prayer is far more than a ritual act but the manifestation of a philosophy of life, one that for Muslims is reaffirmed multiple times a day with even just the recitation of Al Fatiha, the first chapter of the Quran. Dr. Abou El Fadl expands upon the deeper meanings and implications of the Muslim prayer -- things Muslims do regularly but often do not reflect upon -- and step by step, explains how the call to prayer, the recitation and meanings of Al-Fatiha and even the movements in prayer affirm the philosophy that is Islam. He explains why of all of the Names of God that could have been invoked in Al-Fatiha to refer to God, that The Merciful and The Compassionate are the most important; he explains why these are the particular attributes that Muslims must embody when they represent the Divine through their commitment to acting on God's behalf as Muslims. Mercy and compassion--attributes that are more important than even love--are invoked for a specific reason. He goes on to discuss the notion of the "straight path" and how 'staying on the straight path' and 'lowering our gaze' in our day and age must manifest -- not as making sure women wear hijab, but rather, guarding against the types of 'fitna' that can come through such modern day challenges as NOT "clicking" on the most sensational and tantalizing links on the Internet, or engaging in toxic discussions, toxic behaviors or toxic attitudes. He discusses the modern day equivalents of pagan worship and the worship of the laws of nature, and how these types of beliefs leave people lost and without a divine anchor, ultimately prey to the demonic. Coming full circle, he reminds that the establishment of prayer and all that accompanied the centrality of prayer in Islam built an entire civilization, transformed the world, and is at the heart of this religion. A commitment to this essential component is the key to the philosophy of Islam and the renewal of the faith in our day and age. Delivered 2 August 2019.


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