"On Hajj and The Selling of the Soul of Islam"

In the khutbah before Eid al Adha, Dr. Abou El Fadl reminds us of the beautiful history, theology, philosophy and symbolism of the Islamic pillar of faith known as Hajj, the pilgrimage, to be made at least once in a lifetime by every Muslim on the planet if they are financially and physically able to do so. He reminds us of what the meeting of Muslims from around the world used to mean, long before the age of information and connectedness that we now understand in our current times. Hajj was at one time a major hub for information dissemination; people would come from all over the world and be exposed to ideas, theologies, and systems of thought, which they would carry back to their own lands. Hajj was a meeting place of people, ideas and cultures that might not otherwise meet. It was a celebration and an event, and communities would send off pilgrims and then receive them with great fanfare as "Hajji"'s upon their return. He compares how Hajj from the past compares to today and then goes on to discuss the horrific state of affairs of Muslims around the world from Kashmir to Palestine to China, Syria, Yemen, Myanmar and beyond. Importantly, he explains what has transpired that has left Muslims effectively non-responsive in their reactions to such crises--the rise of heavily funded and promoted "world-views" of Islam which promote strict obedience to those in power, regardless of whatever acts are committed by those in power. He describes these as 1) the amoral quietist Jamiyya-Madkhaliyya version; and 2) the Bin Bayyah version of Sufism that warns against standing up for just causes, and similarly promotes strict obedience to rulers. These two versions of Islam are most desired by despotic, authoritarian governments, which is why they are the two versions heavily supported and richly funded by those in power. All else that opposes power or stands up for justice, according to these versions, is conveniently labeled terrorism or "Political Islam". Coming full circle, he traces these developments to the rise of Islamophobia and the obscene amounts of money invested in the Islamophobic industry. Delivered 9 August 2019.

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