So many things happen these days that it is sometimes difficult to keep up. But from my perspective, the most pressing issue was – and remains – the type of Islam that people possessed of money wealth are trying to craft and shape for generations to come; the type of Islam that is being carefully and meticulously engineered so that it can become the faith that all Muslims are supposed to embrace. What is the earmark of this Islam? To understand this type of Islam, look at its consequences and concrete results. It is an Islam that shelters wealth uncritically and unethically, that is displayed in the fancy hotels of Mecca and Medina, and the enormous amount of wealth exhibited and handled in the holy cities. It is an Islam that does not stand up to dictators or despots, and that has nothing to say about injustice or oppression. It is an Islam that keeps the wealthy wealthy, the poor poor, the oppressed oppressed, and the privileged privileged.
It is an Islam that is okay with people insulting Muslims, hating Muslims, vilifying Muslims and banning Muslims, an Islam in which Muslims ask to be tolerated and endured, and merely for the permission to exist. It is an Islam that sees the holocaust occurring in China yet continues its business practices with China. It is an Islam that talks about sovereign national states and borders, yet treats the Rohingyas as refugees that have no rights. It is an Islam that celebrates Hindu nationalists, even when they destroy mosques and usurp Kashmir. It is an Islam that stands idly by as Jerusalem is usurped, Al-Aqsa Mosque is occupied, Palestinian lands are annexed and Palestinians live permanently in refugee camps.
It is an Islam that wants all of our khutbahs, lessons and sermons to be about how to pray, how to do wudu, how to wear hijab – but nothing more. It is a stillborn Islam, a dead Islam. It is an Islam very different than the Christianity that inspires and directs the policies of countries like Poland, or the Christianity that inspires the idea of Judeo-Christian civilization. It is an Islam very different than the Judaism that inspires and propels settlers that steal Palestinian lands and build up Israel as the new dominant superpower in the Middle East. It is an Islam that is solely focused on materialism and profit, that keeps intact all the inequities: the racial inequities, the class inequities, the gender inequities. The only thing it is interested in is how you do your ibadah (worship), how you restrict women, how you ban music. It is a trivial, insignificant, silly Islam. It is an Islam that folds easily before Evangelists and Christian missionaries, an Islam that doesn’t even oppose Zionists that colonize Palestinian land or those determined on the extermination of Muslims. This Islam is our fault, because we continue to show inordinate interest in and celebrate those who represent Islam through pietistic fictions and mythological stories, who entertain us instead of teach us.
When a people have no standards that relate to ethics or justice, they get what they deserve. Who are considered the most effective Muslims, especially in the West? Is it the Muslims who talk about justice, principles and ethics? Or the Muslims who tell pietistic stories that keep us entertained, but do not disturb our world because their entire religiosity is the performance of rituals, rituals and more rituals?
Bahrain has entered a peace treaty with Israel, despite the two countries never having been at war. What does a peace treaty with a country you have never been at war with, mean? It means one thing – normalization of relations with Israel. At whose expense? At the expense of Palestinians, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem.
You might be tempted to say, “Can’t you talk about something else other than the Palestinians?” Well, what have the Bahrainis, Emiratis, Saudis or any other Muslim country done for the Chinese Muslims who, at this very moment, are undergoing a full-scale holocaust? What have they done for the Rohingyas? What have they done for Islamophobia?
Recently, the Parisian newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, republished cartoons that obscenely slander the Prophet Muhammad. France’s president was visiting Lebanon at the time, and when asked about it, he lectured Muslims on the principles of freedom of speech. He did not condemn the cartoons; he didn’t even say that it offended him but that we have to respect freedom of speech. Yet, he was welcomed in Lebanon as a savior. Imagine if that same newspaper published an article denying the Holocaust. They would be prosecuted, because under French law, denying the Holocaust is not considered free speech, it is considered a criminal offense.
Imagine if that newspaper talked about Israel as a colonial state. In France, there are laws that certain critiques of Israel are counted as antisemitism, including calling Israel a colonial state. Imagine what the French president would have said. Would he still talk about freedom of speech, then let it go? In the U.S., if you receive Title VII money, you’re not allowed to engage in criticism of Israel; it’s considered antisemitism. Where are all the defenders of freedom of speech there?
Even worse is the utter silence of Muslims, even when their Prophet is vilified. Al-Azhar uttered a weak, pointless statement. Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta remained silent. All of Saudi’s religious authorities did nothing. The Emirates and Bahrain did nothing. Instead, we’re told that peace means befriending and welcoming Islamophobes as dignified interlocutors.
But when it comes to people like Khaled Abou El Fadl, there, we don’t know tolerance, freedom of speech or reconciliation. We don’t welcome anyone who tells us, “Don’t make peace with Israel, make peace with Qatar,” or “Don’t be at war with the Turks or Iranians.” In these instances, Islam is suddenly not a call for reconciliation, peace and coexistence. There, “Islam” tells us to be hostile to Qatar, Turkey and Iran, but at the same time, to be friends with Islamophobes and those who steal Palestinian land, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
All of this is because Trump is coming up for re-election and is being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Once again, Muslims must pay the bill for internal conflicts that they have nothing to do with. Trump can insult Muslims as much as he wants, he can ban Muslims, he can hate Muslims, he can support Islamophobes, and we help him get nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Last week, the Imam of the Haram in Mecca, Imam Al-Sudais, delivered a khutbah from the podium of the Prophet. In this khutbah, he calls for normalization of relations with Israel. He doesn’t talk about the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem, the annexation of Palestine or the numerous crimes Israel has committed against Palestinians and other Arabs. Instead, he says that we should not make war with Jews, which is obvious. Of course, we should make peace with and welcome Jews. Our issue is with those who annex Palestinian lands, who steal Jerusalem and who deny a Palestinian state’s right to exist.
The Emirates and Bahrain have both normalized relations with Israel, they stand at the podium of the Prophet calling for this normalization. If Palestinian authorities dared to declare an independent Palestinian land, would Israel allow it because they have treaties with the Emirate and Bahrain? No, Netanyahu would immediately order the invasion and annexation of what remains in the hands of Palestinians. This is what Netanyahu’s government has made painfully clear: Don’t you dare declare an independent Palestinian state, or else we’ll slaughter you. What’s the Muslim response? To normalize relations with Israel. They stood on the podium of the Prophet, telling us peace is good. While that is, of course, true, logic tells us the extent to which they take Muslims for granted, and the extent to which they have no respect for Muslims. When Arab leaders meet with Netanyahu, meetings are often spoken in Hebrew. Muslims were willing to go out of their way to learn his language, but Netanyahu would not do the same.
This, and what’s spoken on the podium of the Prophet tells us that we must always prefer normalization of relations with non-Muslims, that God commanded us to always make peace with non-Muslims, but apparently Sudais forgot Surah Al-Mumtahanah, which couldn’t be clearer. God doesn't prohibit us from making peace and being kind to non-believers, but God does prohibit us from making peace with those who annex our lands and steal Al-Aqsa Mosque. Sudais recited the first portion of this ayat, that tells us God doesn’t prohibit us from making peace, but left out the second half that does prohibit us when it comes to people who occupy our lands and expel us from our homes.
Let's not forget that this is the same Sudais, who shortly after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, in a visit to Washington D.C., ignored all of the insults Trump had heaped upon Islam and Muslims, ignored the fact that Trump is supported by Evangelical Christians who dream of converting Muslims, ignored the fact that every Islamophobic organization in the country supported the Trump administration, ignored that Trump and his supporters finance Islamophobic organizations, and ignored the fact that Israel helps finance Islamophobic organizations. Instead, Sudais said MBS and Trump will lead the world to peace.
Some people tell me, ‘Well, don't focus on Arabs. Remember Arabs are only a small percentage of Muslims in the world.’ But what have non-Arab Muslims done? Did the Muslims of Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia erupt in anger when Israel annexed Jerusalem? Did they erupt in anger when the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and stole the Aqsa Mosque? Did non-Arab Muslims vow not to make business deals with the Emirate, now that the Emirate has become a major ally in the Israeli settler colonial project? Are non-Arabs now vowing to boycott Bahrain?
The Al-Saud family has heavily abused the Hijaz, Mecca and Medina. Where are the non-Arab Muslims challenging Al-Saud sovereignty over the Hijaz? Are they vowing not to go to Hajj as long as this family continues to usurp Al-Hijaz? Are they demanding that Al-Hijaz be in ethical, moral, Islamic hands? The Al-Saud family must clean up its act or surrender Al-Hijaz to those who can, because at this point, they have betrayed every Islamic cause imaginable.
Where are these non-Arab Muslims? They’re in the United States, intoxicated with the classical traditional doctrines of Zaytuna and the Sufi rants. They don't care about Jerusalem, the Rohingyas or the holocaust in China. They care about someone who tells them a story about piety and its fantastical wonders, or the pleasures of heaven and entertainment. Religiosity has become entertainment.
The Al-Saud family is now imitating Israel in expelling indigents from homes that they've inhabited for hundreds of years to make a way for an economic project that will make the rich richer, but not benefit those who are not privileged. This project, titled the NEOM project, that accrues mostly for the benefit of Israel, has done the unthinkable. Hundreds of mosques in Egypt were torn down and destroyed, some of which were historical monuments. The Egyptian government has done in Egypt more than Israel has done to Palestinians, in terms of destroying homes and mosques. In just one year, the Egyptian government has destroyed more mosques in Egypt than Israel has destroyed since its establishment.
The new Islam means absolute silence. Worse, it's not always just absolute silence, it’s also compliance. The Egyptian government handed Chinese students studying at Azhar to the Chinese government so they can be put into concentration camps. Now, they're destroying historical monuments and mosques, all because of crazy ideas about new investments, the NEOM project and making Cairo ready for the influx of the new business that's going to come from other powerful Middle Eastern nations, including Israel.
A Muslim country destroys well over a thousand mosques and Al-Azhar is silent. The Mufti of Egypt is silent. The shaykhs of the world are silent, instead choosing to talk about hijab and salat. They tell us, ‘These are political matters. Just trust those who are in authority, because Islam teaches us obedience to those in authority. Don't question their judgment when it comes to betraying the Palestinians. Don't question their judgment when it comes to the holocaust in China. Don't question their judgment when it comes to the many other injustices committed against Muslims across the world. Don't question their judgment, because God wants you to obey blindly.’ A god who tells me to obey the unjust will never be my God.
The first azan this jumu’a was in the voice of a woman: My wife, Grace. Some of you may say, ‘Haram! the voice of the woman is awrah (private).’ First, liberate Al-Aqsa mosque and then we'll talk about it. First, prevent Israel from stealing Palestinian lands and then we'll talk about it. First, stop the Chinese holocaust against Muslims and then we'll talk about it. Frankly, I don't care anymore if the voice of a woman is awrah because the disaster we are confronting is far more pressing. I have nothing to say to those who are more concerned about a woman giving azan. What do you say to a person that wants to silence half of the population of the world? If you are aroused by a woman doing azan, commit yourself to a mental institution immediately. This is all I have to say to you. You need urgent care.
A devastating report recently came out by the Watson Institute in Brown University titled, “Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the U.S. Post-9/11 Wars.” Since the U.S. began its war on terror, they have forcibly displaced at least 37 million Muslims from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Philippines, Libya, and Syria. That exceeds those displaced by every war since 1900, except World War II. It exceeds the number of those displaced during the colonial age. Millions more have been displaced involving U.S. troops in smaller combat operations in the Middle East and Africa, all of which in Muslim majority countries. 37 million is a conservative estimate, the total displaced by the U.S. post-9/11 is closer to 48-59 million Muslims.
Coronavirus has killed close to 200,000 in the U.S., and that doesn't bother the administration. But because the Muslim terrorists killed 3,000 in 9/11, the U.S. invaded two Muslim countries, bombed at least 12 other Muslim countries, and caused 48-59 million Muslims to lose their homes and become refugees. While we've done that, Trump is elected partly on an anti-Muslim rant. He institutes the Muslim Ban, which the Supreme Court upholds as constitutional, while at the same time overruling Korematsu, the Japanese detention case from World War II. Trump has mitigated his anti-Muslim rhetoric and rants. Muslims, meanwhile, reward Islamophobes for their hatred of Islam by giving them money, signing treatises, helping them get re-elected and even normalizing relations with the likes of Netanyahu, who has more Muslim blood on his hand than one could possibly count.
Forty-eight to 59 million Muslims displaced, but we have the likes of Zaytuna that say, ‘Trump is our leader. The Muslim Ban is not so bad.’ But that is, of course, because of their link with the Emirate. I am sure that I am the only khatib that speaks in a khutbah about a report like this. That is the problem. Khatibs today don't condemn autocrats or despots, they don't speak for justice. They'll say, ‘Islamophobia is horrible. Let's teach them the true Islam.’ It is not about teaching them the true Islam. It's about politics, which is exactly what they tell Muslims to stay out of. Islamophobia is about dominance and control. It's about Israel becoming a superpower in the Middle East. It’s about converting Muslims all around the world to Christianity. That is what Islamophobia is about. It's about power dynamics. It's not about knowledge and teaching them the true Islam.
Since 9/11, the U.S. has displaced 48-59 million Muslims and made them into refugees without proper water, income or shelter; making them ripe products for radicalization. When you turn people into refugees, you create potential terrorists. If, after learning all of the catastrophes the Muslims are confronting, you are still interested in talking about whether or not a Muslim woman's voice is awrah, I have nothing to say to you. Let me hear you first address a catastrophe like this, and then perhaps if I am still alive, we can talk.