Dr. Abou El Fadl reminds us that Muslims have been entrusted with a powerful and weighty word, one of the most repeated words in the Quran, Haqq. ‘Al Haqq’ yields the meaning of truth, rights, duties, belief (imaan), and justice all wrapped up in a singular word. It does not just describe a reality, it is an aspirational term.
Allah repeatedly reminds that He created a nation that pursues al Haqq and the reality of justice; we must not make excuses to water down al Haqq, or intuitively know al Haqq, but allow ourselves to conceal or avoid its implications or consequences. Allah has given us the book of al Haqq, so we can judge wisely and not defend those who fail to identify what is truth and justice from the opposite. The blameworthy are those who treat people unjustly, oppress, demean, degrade, and control people; those who do not uphold al Haqq create a world in which the standard for al Haqq – what is truthful, beautiful, just, high and eternal – is rendered ambiguous.
The relationship between the people of God and a concept like al Haqq, is an umbilical and intimate relationship. Muslims who no longer reflect upon a fundamental concept like al Haqq are Muslims no more, and do not deserve Allah’s support. Al Haqq is a constant pursuit and engagement to achieve that which is the most ethical, just and beautiful, even if we know beforehand that we will fail many times. We will one day be judged by Allah in our pursuit of knowledge and application of al Haqq.
We live in an age in which American Muslims in particular have become morally, intellectually, and ethically lazy. American Muslims tend to behave as if Islam can be fulfilled through learning Arabic, memorizing Quran, learning hadiths, and studying regulations about hijab or proper etiquette between men and women. They act as if this is al Haqq, and do not concern themselves beyond it. There is no bigger disaster for American Muslims than this. Ritualistic practices will not preserve Islam in one’s heart and mind, or in the hearts and minds of our children.
Allah’s barakah (grace) is only granted to those who pursue al Haqq. When Allah tells the Prophet (SAW) not to defend the treacherous, this applies to us as a moral obligation, and we must reflect on what it means to be treacherous and what are the moral and ethical implications of that command. When Allah tells us not to become acquiescent or passive with the unjust, we must internalize this and ask God to help us recognize all forms of injustice and empower us never to acquiesce or accept injustice.
We, American Muslims are at a pivotal turning point. We cannot remain backwards and intellectually handicapped. Students studying at Islamic institutions are taught passiveness before injustice. The curriculum is handpicked to say, ‘Obey the unjust, even if they abuse you’, and ‘The only thing you can do before injustice is to have patience’. All of the hadiths that teach obedience to power; silence before injustice; and acquiescence before oppression were invented. They were fabricated in the context of the early Islamic confrontation between those who supported Imam Husayn’s rebellion and those who supported the Umayyad. The pro-Umayyad faction invented tons of hadith that they attributed to the Prophet (SAW), telling people to obey; while the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Husayn, made the moral choice to rebel and gave his life to uphold that principle. All of the hadiths that call for obedience to oppression are directly inconsistent with the Quran and were invented by the anti-Husayn/pro-Umayyad faction; or were invented by the pro-Umayyad/anti-Aisha-Talha-Zubair faction. False isnads (chains of transmission) could be as easily fabricated 1300-1400 years ago as today.
It is time that Muslims grow up. The rest of the world understands that history is complicated, and that history is often invented and negotiated. It is difficult to reclaim an objective part of history. But Muslims read books that were written 1200 years ago with no critical insight. There are many hadiths that teach us passivity before oppression; masochism and patriarchy; and that talk about women in a degrading way. The anti-women, pro-injustice hadiths were all a product of historical circumstance.
Muslim institutions like Zaytuna inject in students an intellect that belongs 1200 years in the past. How can these people build an ummah al-Haqq – a nation of truth and justice? Remember what Allah says. Allah swears by time and age and tells us human beings, unless we are careful to have imaan (faith), do good deeds, pursue al Haqq, and then have sabr (patience), we will doom ourselves.
Many American Islamic so-called educational institutions jump over the pursuit of al Haqq and say simply to pursue sabr (patience). They leave the Haqq part out. To them, the answer to injustice, oppression and misery is to just be patient. Imagine if this was the philosophy of the prophets. Prophet Ibrahim, like Prophet Muhammad, raised an army. They didn’t sit around being patient. We need to intellectually pursue, understand and teach al Haqq so that justice and truth are not lost.
In a past khutbah, we discussed a professor at an Islamic educational institution who said the Muslim Ban is not a Muslim ban. Another person from the same institution recently spoke at Princeton and said in public that out of over a billion Muslims, only 1.4 million Muslims are suffering so that is not that bad. This is what happens when one adopts the attitude of pursuing patience but not al Haqq: they start changing facts so their conscience is not bothered. This is an offense against Allah. Until we live up to our obligations to Allah as Muslims, do not expect Allah to be on our side.
Did we really need a final prophet and a line of prophets to teach us just patience? Is that the great legacy that we have been given? For all of the great philosophers of justice: Rousseau, Locke, Sartre, and all the others; we came to humanity to teach patience, acquiescence and passiveness? This is not a religion ethics or morality; it is an absolute failure. Allah wants us to speak the truth, we must answer for our silence.
The silence of American Muslims before injustice is inexcusable because there is no cost to speaking out. The cost is extremely high for Muslims living in countries like Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, so their silence is understandable. It is extremely lucrative in our day and age to kiss up to power, and most Muslim institutions in the U.S. have been bought by Saudi and the UAE in particular.
A common argument to not stand up to injustice is to avoid becoming like Syria. Syria has become a boogeyman, used to teach the rest of the world silence. The story of Prophet Musa’s (pbuh) brother letting Musa’s followers worship an idol is another story to teach Muslims silence. Do not use Islam to legitimate injustice and ugliness. Syria became Syria not because people demanded their rights, but because outside forces supported the unjust forces of Assad. Syria, if anything, is an example of oppression, and those who fail to speak up against injustice.
The Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt want an Islam that facilitates wealth and commerce and has no nationalistic, political or ethical cause. The problem with this type of Islam is it has now been exported to American Muslims, and they have embraced it, even those who do not have wealth or commerce; producing an enormous amount of ignorance, and the death of Islam in America.