Greetings of Peace, especially in these times of war. I pray that you are safe, healthy, and well. It has been a very difficult week, watching the news of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the catastrophic devastation of war. Further, it is heart-wrenching to know that yet another war has turned at least another million human beings into refugees. But I must admit, watching the news has become a bitterly painful experience when I see the outpouring of love, empathy and compassion - rightfully so - for the Ukrainians in our media and from fellow humans, juxtaposed against the stone cold, heartless and soulless treatment afforded Muslim refugees and victims around the world from the same. This morning brings news of countless people who are heroically volunteering to travel thousands of miles to Ukraine to join the fight simply to defend against injustice. It is hard to fathom that humans can be at once so beautifully selfless and ready to sacrifice for some human beings, while not thinking twice about the same plight of other human beings in a different part of the world. The racism, bigotry and hypocrisy screams loud and clear, but few want to pay attention.
The pain cuts even deeper when you compare the overall human reaction to Ukraine compared to the Muslim reaction to what is happening in Jerusalem. Dr. Abou El Fadl articulates this powerful in this week's latest Usuli Excerpt: "Reflecting on Reactions to the Invasion of Ukraine vs the Annexation of Jerusalem."
My only hope is that if and when the situation improves, that perhaps those who have found themselves forced into the shoes of refugees will find their eyes and hearts open to the longstanding plight of other human beings who have been refugees for so long that they no longer even have shoes. Perhaps from that forced experience will emerge an empathy that could lead to change and betterment for the human refugees that have been neglected for so long. One can only hope and pray for that kind of silver lining for humanity, insha'Allah.
As we have learned in the Project Illumine halaqas, tests, trials and even devastation are an opportunity for learning, growth and drawing closer to God. In that spirit, I draw your attention to the upcoming virtual event: Sexual and Spiritual Abuse: Dispelling Myths from an Islamic Perspective, Q&A with Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, set for Sunday, March 20th at 4 pm EST.
It has become clear that this is a serious and pervasive problem in our community that does not often get addressed because of the sensitive and taboo nature of the topic, which thrives in darkness and silence at the expense of victims. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the Islamic obligations of the community, those in positions of leadership, brother to brother, sister to sister and every other complex relationship in between. We thought it would be extremely valuable to hold a curated Q&A with Shaykh Abou El Fadl to elevate our collective understanding on some of the most commonly held misconceptions and frequently asked questions about our role and responsibilities as ethical Muslims. You may recall that Dr. Abou El Fadl spoke candidly and powerfully about these issues in two previous khutbahs entitled, "The Unspoken Truth (Haqq) About Sexual Abuse and the Rights of Victims," and "What Occupies Your Heart? And More On Wolves in Shaykhs' Clothing."
Please join us for what promises to be a powerful and transparent conversation as you can imagine and have come to expect from Shaykh Abou El Fadl.
Lastly, I would like to call your attention to the wonderful excerpt from last week's halaqa, Day 6 of Sura al Nisa', where Dr. Abou El Fadl talks about tadabur, deep reflection that is called for in the Qur'an. If you haven't had time to watch any of the Project Illumine halaqas, I
hope you can take the time to take in these short excerpts, which are beautiful gold nuggets of knowledge that can boost your spirit. This one in particular underscores what is so special about
our Qu'ran, which is like no other.
Please join us online! I am excited for the khutbah today - every week, Dr. Abou El Fadl's khutbahs just get better and better - and for our continuation of Surah Al Nisa' (Day 7) tomorrow night at 6 pm ET insha'Allah!
Please keep all of us in your prayers as we continue on our mission to complete and publish this entire Project Illumine tafsir in book form! May God keep you safe and protected and on the most beautiful path always! Wishing you a blessed weekend and hope to see you online soon insha'Allah!
In Peace and Hope,
The Usuli Institute