Every week when I stand on this podium, there is the often weighty decision of what topics to address. This podium is the podium of the Prophet Muhammad. Anyone that stands before the congregation on Friday, anyone that chooses to go through the process of delivering a khutbah is assuming that podium and the responsibility that goes with it. It is the responsibility to be the voice of truth and goodness in the Muslim Ummah and to speak against what is wrong in the Muslim Ummah. So, what stands before you is the entire weight of what you should put forward if you are, in fact, speaking on behalf of the Muslim Ummah. It is always a tough decision because there are many challenges, and these challenges may seem overwhelming because they are all pressing challenges.
But in the midst of all the challenges that confront the Muslim Ummah, there are always particular problems that are symbolic, that are a phenomena, that are a symptom of everything else: basic, foundational problems that go to the core of the Muslim spirit and the role that Islam is intended to play on planet Earth and in God's creation; and the problems that are derivative from that. Sometimes these foundational problems are represented by events that seem small or very specific, but in reality, are symptoms of a much larger and persistent issue.
Recently, a friend showed me a news item where Shaykh Bin Bayyah was meeting with Danny Danon, who is currently the permanent representative of Israel in the UN. Danon has been a long-standing member of the Likud Party and has done some things to serve his country, like sponsoring legislation in his country that serves the national interests of Israelis. But Danon has also served as the Deputy Defense Minister of Israel. Danon has exhibited a persistent course of conduct where he clearly sees Palestinians as substandard if human at all. So, the person who seems civilized, moral and conscious of the social problems that confront Israeli society is the same person who, since 2013, has made a record for himself as firmly against the peace agreement with Palestinians, as firmly against the two-state solution, and also against the one-state solution. As far as Danny Danon is concerned, Palestinians should live in subjugation forever.
Danon has consistently maintained that Israel should annex the West Bank - should simply steal the land - and that Palestinians should live like animals, taking whatever the Israelis give them without complaint. He has made it very clear both inside and outside of Israel that as far as he is concerned, Israelis bear no responsibility for the Palestinians. Yes, the Israelis have forced them off their land since 1948. Yes, the Israelis have displaced them and turned them into refugees. But as far as he is concerned, Israelis bear no responsibility towards the Palestinians. He went even further. When he believed Gaza was launching rockets at Israel, he said, "We ought to delete one neighborhood in Gaza in response for every rocket launched." In 2014, he advocated cutting off all electricity and fuel supplies to Gaza and starving the Palestinians like animals. In 2014, in response to an Israeli soldier being captured in Gaza during the Israeli invasion of Gaza, his comment as Deputy Defense Minister was, "If we do not get the soldier back within a few hours, we should level Gaza to the ground."
So, it is clear that we are not dealing with a dove of any sort. Danny Danon's father himself was killed in the War of Attrition with Egypt and Syria, although Danon's father was an Egyptian citizen before he migrated to Israel. In other words, Danon's family has lived in Egypt for a long time. But although he is half-Arab, ie. half-Egyptian, Danny Danon would have a fit if anyone ever suggested that there is, in fact, any Arab ethnic blood that flows in his body.
So, what is a supposed Muslim scholar like Bin Bayyah doing meeting with the ex-Deputy Defense Minister? What is the supposed scholar doing meeting with Israel's permanent representative in the UN, who has consistently defended all Israeli war crimes, including the well-established charges of the Israeli military being involved in harvesting organs from some Palestinian captives? Without investigation, people like Danny Danon think Palestinians are beneath having any of the rights of being recognized as human beings. Yet this supposed Muslim scholar, Bin Bayyah, is meeting with Danny Danon in the Emirates.
Do you think Bin Bayyah was meeting with Danon to remind him of the rights that are due to Palestinians? Do you think that he met with him to urge that Israel end the occupation of the Aqsa Mosque? Do you think that Bin Bayyah was meeting with him perhaps to argue against the recent Israeli court decision that Jews have a right to worship in the Aqsa Mosque? Do you think that Bin Bayyah was meeting with him to protest the fact that, just last week, an Israeli court upheld the demolition of yet another Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem? Israeli bulldozers destroyed the Yousefiyah Cemetery, a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, exposing the bones of long dead Muslims. Do you think Bin Bayyah was meeting with him to say, "Why do you continue treating Palestinians like animals? Why do you destroy their homes? Why do you destroy their cemeteries? Why do you demolish their mosques?" How about all the Palestinians rotting in Israeli prisons? How about the long-uninvestigated charges that Israelis have been involved in organ trade? In fact, those of you who want to research this can very quickly and easily find out how many Israeli ex-military have been arrested around the world because of their involvement in the unlawful organ transplant business.
I assure you that Bin Bayyah is not meeting with Danny Danon for any of these reasons. I am sure that if you ask Bin Bayyah, even he does not know why he is meeting with Danny Danon. Because people like Bin Bayyah are obeying the orders that they were given from their masters in the Emirates. The problem though is that Bin Bayyah has become somewhat of a phenomenon for American Muslims. When Hamza Yusuf invites his teacher to the US, he is treated as an esteemed, honored guest. Bin Bayyah is supposed to be the cornerstone of the Zaytuna Institution. It is clearly another example of the effect of Emirati money, and what the apoliticism of Islam that the Emirates wants, looks like. So, if one protests Israeli human rights abuses, it is considered political Islam, to which the Emirate says, "That is not allowed. That is extremism. That is militarism. That is Islamism." But if you support Israel regardless of what it is doing to the Aqsa Mosque or to Muslim cemeteries, that is okay. That is not political Islam; that is good Islam.
The problem is a serious one. Do you think Bin Bayyah does not know what the Qur'an says in Surah Al-Mumtahanah? Do you think Bin Bayyah does not know the part in Surah Al-Mumtahanah in which God says, "We forbid you from befriending and aligning yourself and even being amicable to those who have occupied your lands and kicked you out of your lands"? It is very clear. Bin Bayyah knows that in Islamic Law, in Shari'a, it is very clear if there are people that occupy Muslim lands, that oppress Muslims, that if one refuses to leave Muslim territory and refuses to end the subjugation of fellow Muslims, we are not allowed to befriend them. We are not even allowed to be nice to them. So, with everything that Danny Danon has done against our fellow Muslims, Bin Bayyah again, like all the so-called fuqaha (jurists) who are on the Emirati payroll, meets Israelis to betray Palestinians.
I have a friend that once asked me, "Why should all Muslims make a big deal about the rights of Palestinians? Are there not other Muslims suffering in the world?" My answer to him was, "Yes. But if you are willing to forego your rights and your dignity when it comes to the Aqsa Mosque and the heartland of the Muslim Ummah, then you are not going to uphold the rights of Muslims anywhere else." True to form, the likes of Bin Bayyah and his institution in Zaytuna and his student Hamza Yusuf, are like the agents of colonialism. They are there to tell the natives who are colonized and oppressed that their colonization and oppression is natural and, in fact, morally neutral and that they are under no obligation Islamically to resist their oppression and colonization; that we should just exist to pass the time in this awful dunya (earthly life) so we can make it to heaven.
The part that they do not tell you is that if you, as a Muslim, fail to stand up for your own dignity and for the dignity of fellow Muslims, you have no chance of ever seeing heaven, regardless of how much you pray and how much you worship you do. Islam did not come to teach us how to pray well and how to fast well. Islam came as a message of liberation to humanity, as a message of justice. So true to form, the likes of Bin Bayyah fail to object when it comes to Kashmir. They do not object when it comes to the rise of Hindu nationalism. They do not object when it comes to the Rohingyas in Burma. They do not object when it comes to the Uyghurs in China. They never say a word about the rampant trade of organs, of so-called “halal” Muslim body parts. In the black market, halal Muslim body parts are a well-known phenomena.
Do you know where you can get halal Muslim body parts? Yes, from Israel. Where do these halal Muslim body parts come from? From the concentration camps in China, as well as from Egypt, across the Sinai Peninsula because organ traders harvest the organs of asylees from Africa that go through Egypt. They trap them and force them to sell their organs for passage money. Sometimes, they kill them along with street children in Egypt. Unfortunately, now it is clear that the Egyptian military is involved in murdering street children in Egypt, harvesting their organs and sending them to Israel, which has a wonderful black market of halal body parts, kidneys, livers, hearts, eye corneas.
Why is there such a robust trade? Because the Arab world has a very high rate of kidney and liver failure. Why? Because of the high rate of alcohol consumption in the Gulf countries and the high rate and spread of hepatitis-C in the water of many Middle Eastern countries. Hepatitis-C causes kidney failure. Alcohol causes liver failure. Other diseases spread in the unclean water of the Middle East, causing all types of different eye diseases, so it is now a well-known fact. Do you need a body part? You can buy it from Israel, coming from dead Muslims.
You will never hear Bin Bayyah talk about that. You will never hear Hamza Yusuf talk about that. You will never hear anyone in the institution of Zaytuna talk about any of that. No, what you will hear is Bin Bayyah is meeting with Danny Danon - at the same time that the Israeli court upheld the supposed right of Jews to pray in Aqsa Mosque; at the same time that Israel continues destroying Muslim cemeteries and Muslim historical sites in Jerusalem, changing the face of Jerusalem forever; at the same time that the rise in extremist Jewish nationalism goes unchecked.
Most of you, I am sure, do not know this. But part of the process of normalizing relations with Israel has involved changing the educational curricula of Muslim countries across the board. Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, all under French pressure have removed from their books the jihad verses of the Qur'an; have removed the stories of the Sahabah that conquered Palestine and liberated Jerusalem; have removed the stories of Muslims in Andalusia and how they got there; have removed the stories about the struggle of the Chechnyan people or the Kashmiri people, or any reference to Muslims in China. In fact, Apple just recently closed down Qur'anic apps in China. So, if a Muslim in China wants to download an app called Qur'an Majeed, they no longer can. China does not want Qur'anic apps and so Apple obliged. There is not a single Muslim voice that was raised in protest.
While all these Muslim countries are rushing to whitewash Muslim history and the Qur'anic narrative, all you have to do is watch Israeli TV for one day. I will never forget something broadcasted on Israeli TV. A researcher goes into a Jewish elementary school in Jerusalem. All the young students in the school are wearing yarmulkes. This researcher asked the students, "How many of you know where the Aqsa Mosque is?" All the students raised their hands. "How many of you believe that by the time you grow up, the Aqsa Mosque will be gone and the temple will be built upon the location of the Aqsa Mosque?" All the students raised their hands. These were fourth or fifth graders. "How many of you believe that the Palestinians are equal in humanity to Jews?" Not one student raised their hand.
No one talks about Israeli curricula. No one talks about what is taught in India about Muslims. No one stands for Muslim rights. If we cannot look to our scholars to uphold what is a principle - to stand for something - then what remains? I do not understand these Muslims anymore. People like Bin Bayyah know Shari'a. People like Bin Bayyah know that Sufism was often the vehicle to resist colonialism. Omar al-Mukhtar was a Sufi. Those who resisted colonialism, like Abd al-Qadir in Algeria, and those who resisted colonialism in Libya and in Algeria were Sufis.
But the Sufism of Bin Bayyah and Hamza Yusuf is poisoned. At the same time that Bin Bayyah is meeting with Danny Danon to kiss up to him, to tell him, "Go ahead, insult us Muslims; oppress us Muslims; persecute us Muslims. Treat us like dogs. We do not care how you treat fellow Muslims as long as you treat me, individually, as a dignitary and as an important person. Is that not the Islam of Bin Bayyah and Hamza Yusuf in Zaytuna? As long as Hamza Yusuf is treated as an honorary guest, they can do whatever they want with the Palestinians. As long as Bin Bayyah is treated as an honorary guest, they can do whatever they want to Chinese Muslims. As long as both of them are treated as honorary guests, they can do whatever they want to Indian Muslims. What type of Islam is this?
At the same time, here is an example of what some moral non-Muslim have done. This is a message from Google and Amazon workers, protesting the business that Google and Amazon are doing with Israelis. I am going to read you the letter they wrote:
"We are writing as Google and Amazon employees of conscience from diverse backgrounds. We believe that the technology we build should work to serve and uplift people everywhere including all of our users. As workers who keep these companies running, we are morally obligated to speak out against violations of those core values. For this reason, we are compelled to call on the leaders of Amazon and Google to pull out of Project Nimbus and cut all ties with the Israeli military. So far, more than 90 workers at Google and more than 300 at Amazon have signed this letter. We are anonymous because we fear retaliation.
“We have watched Google and Amazon aggressively pursue contracts with institutions like the US Department of Defense, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, and state and local police departments. These contracts are part of a disturbing pattern of militarization, lack of transparency, and avoidance of oversight.
"Continuing this pattern, our employers signed a contract called Project Nimbus to sell dangerous technology to the Israeli military and government. This contract was signed the same week that the Israeli military attacked Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, killing 250 people, including 60 children. The technology our companies have contracted to build will make the systematic discrimination and displacement carried out by the Israeli military and government even crueler and deadlier for Palestinians.
"Project Nimbus is a $1.2 billion contract to provide cloud services for the Israeli military and government. This technology allows for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians and facilities expansion of Israel's illegal settlements on Palestinian lands. We cannot look the other way, as the products we build are used to deny Palestinians their basic rights, force Palestinians out of their homes, and attack Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, actions that have prompted war crime investigations by the International Criminal Court.
"We envision a future where technology brings people together and makes life better for everyone. To build that brighter future, the companies we work for need to stop contracting with any and all militarized organizations in the US and beyond," et cetera, et cetera.
This is a letter by Amazon and Google workers, raising the moral point that seems to consistently elude the likes of Bin Bayyah, Hamza Yusuf and the entire Zaytuna Institution, and certainly seems to elude so many American Muslims. These Amazon and Google workers put Muslims to shame. They did not need to read Bukhari to take that moral stand. They did not need to know the intricacies of Ibn Dawud and Ibn Majah to take that moral stand. They did not need to pontificate about hijab, and debate whether the voice of women is awrah to take that moral stand. What do you say? What do you do? Who is your God? What do you worship?
Yes, it is a serious moral challenge to stand every week and choose your topics. I do not ask myself whether others are fulfilling their end of the bargain. I do not ask myself whether those who also choose to stand on the pulpit of the Prophet every Friday in fact do call for what is good. I only ask myself the following question:
If I do not make it to the next jumu’a, what would I want to tell God about the last jumu’a I gave on planet Earth? What do you do with your Muslim Ummah when betrayal, dishonor and outright violation of everything that Islam stands for has become the norm? What do you do when someone like Yusuf Qaradawi is trapped in Qatar, his children are rotting in prison in Egypt, and still he cannot visit the US or a European country; when someone like Salman al-Ouda is rotting in a Saudi prison, and someone like Bin Bayyah is flying around like a VIP? No morality. No ethics. No Islam, no Shari'a, nothing. A blank page upon which Shaytan can write whatever the Shaytan wants. And [Bin Bayyah’s] student goes around pontificating about Islamicity and what Islam stands for, and Muslims, like sheep herded to the slaughter, listen and clap and say, "Mashallah, subhanallah."
What do you do when the country that is supposed to be the custodian of the two holy sites, spends $400 million buying a soccer team; not developing technology, not doing scientific research, not helping the displaced Rohingyas, not helping the Uyghurs of China, not even helping Palestinians, but investing in a soccer team? There are tons of Muslims, like sheep, clapping and praising MBS. Why? After all, Saudi Arabia has planned 7,000 major entertainment events costing billions of dollars, where they fly Western artists from all over the world to come perform in Saudi Arabia, spending millions upon millions of dollars. Meanwhile, Muslim scholars continue rotting in Saudi prisons. Like Salman al-Ouda, whose trial is being postponed as the prosecution insists that he should be put to death. What is wrong with us? Are we possessed? Is there some Satanic force that flows through our intellects or hearts? What is going on?
Almost as if God was sending me a message; as I was waiting for the Khutbah today, I remember my wife came up to me yesterday and said, "You have learned Aramaic. You have learned Hebrew. Is anyone else in the Muslim world talking about the type of things you talk about when it comes to the Bible and what the Bible says as opposed to what the Qur'an says? Is there anyone else who is doing this work or has this ability, has this knowledge?" As I was waiting for the Khutbah today, on YouTube pops up the image of Ahmed Sabee’, the face of another symbolic event that speaks volumes. No, I will not drop it. I have never met Ahmed Sabee’; I do not know him from Adam. All I know is what he stands for, what he represents.
As rappers and pop artists are paid millions of dollars to go to the Land of the Prophet to sing and dance, as Salman al-Ouda sits in Saudi prison; Ahmed Sabee’, a man whose only crime is that he studied Hebrew and Aramaic and spoke about the different manuscripts of the Bible, what the Bible says about the divinity of Jesus, has disappeared until now. He was arrested by Egyptian security forces and no one knows anything about him to our very date. In the Muslim world, someone like Ahmed Sabee’ disappears because he is returning the gaze. That is all he was doing. That is all he ever did. Never was he a member of any Islamic group. Never did he speak about politics. Never has he said anything about anything, except the history of the Bible and the theology of the Bible, yet someone like that disappears.
And of course, someone like Bin Bayyah does not utter a peep. Someone like Bin Bayyah, his friend, Habib Al Jifri, and their friend, Hamza Yusuf, do not say a peep. In fact, they say, "Do not worry, Muslims are not oppressed. The Muslim ban was a good thing. Trump is not really Islamophobic. He is just playing politics. Do not be ridiculous. Do not be a fanatic; an Islamist; a follower of political Islam. Live to be degraded and humiliated like animals. Do not raise your head. Do not object. Do not protest. Do not know your rights.”
Ahmed Sabee’ is a symbol for what ails us as Muslims all over. A young man who pulls himself up by his bootstraps, coming from a very modest background, applies himself to study the languages of the Other, to study the theology of the Other, to study the intellect of the Other, to return the gaze. The Other can pick up the phone and tell the land of Azhar - the supposed esteemed Azhar: “Pick up this kid and throw him in prison! Make him disappear! How dare he return the gaze? Muslims should only listen to pop music and dance like monkeys, gorge themselves on food and alcohol, ride cruises, watch soccer, do their prayers, sleep with their wives, live like animals and die like animals.” That is what we are good for as Muslims. Everything is encapsulated and represented in Bin Bayyah meeting with Danny Danon, while Ahmed Sabee’ continuing to be a disappeared with no one in the world caring.