Every week, I ask people to send me writings with a view towards what would be appropriate to talk about at jumu’a. The articles that I end up reading in preparation for khutbahs are somewhat like getting a pulse on the ummah and what exists in our day and age. These days, getting to that pulse is often, if not always, a traumatizing endeavor.
It is when we feel that sense of trauma that we are reminded of how much the ummah is connected. Imagine Muslims as a single unit, as parts of a single body reacting to one another's pains and agonies. When the human body is confronted with overwhelming pain, the nervous system is overcome and, if they are lucky, they pass out because the brain cannot process such an amount of pain. They enter into a physiological, unconscious slumber, disconnected from reality. The unconsciousness is a brief respite because once they come back to consciousness, the likelihood is that the same things that caused the pain in the first place are still present. Often, the response is to disconnect from reality. If the brain consistently becomes overwhelmed, it risks becoming delusional, losing touch with the very reality that induced the trauma in the first place.
The Muslim ummah is confronted consistently, since the age of colonialism, with an overwhelming amount of trauma. Like the human body, the temptation for many in this Muslim ummah is to disconnect from or misperceive reality as the collective intellect enters into a realm of fantasy; a realm which they hear, see, perceive and think in terms disconnected from the reality that induced the trauma. I suspect that this is a great part of why so many khutbahs are disjointed and disconnected from reality. I suspect that, in Muslim spaces, there is so much discourse that can only be described as delusional, disjointed from any pragmatic engagement with the reality of the ummah. Quite simply, the trauma is too much to process.
Again looking at the ummah as a human body, it is impossible to trust our doctors because, as an ummah, those who often pose as our doctors are the same figures that colonized the ummah in the first place. In other words, the holders of medical science in this allegory, the holders of the paradigm of progress and reason, those that are supposed to aid the ill and the suffering - the doctors - are indeed the same individuals who were responsible for a great deal of the trauma in the first place because those doctors, wearing another hat, acted as the colonizers.
The patient cannot turn to the doctors, who are conceptually unable to get themselves to truly heal the patient. The only thing they can get themselves to do is to provide sedatives but otherwise, the patient - the ummah - is on its own. If this patient wants to escape the cycle of painkillers, sedatives and hallucinogens that simply give a brief respite from the pain but actually treat nothing, if the patient wants to emerge out of this predicament, is it at all possible without the patient confronting the pain, carefully analyzing the sources and the reasons for the pain before beginning a possible journey to healing?
Just this week, we have gotten plenty of examples of the same phenomena that we are talking about. CAIR came out with a report titled, “Islamophobia in the Mainstream.” The report is quite good, but it is not enough to say, “It is quite good,” and move on, because what it says between the lines is far more alarming than what it says explicitly.
According to this report, carefully documented from 2017 to 2019 as a representative sample, as many as 35 charitable institutions funneled over $105 million into 26 Islamophobic network groups. Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, the Schwab Charitable Fund, the Marcus Foundation, the Adelson Family Foundation, the Jewish Communal Fund: these six were the top funders from the 35 institutions, who donated to a host of Islamophobic networks. Again, this is just from 2017 to 2019.
When we analyze the recipient institutions, they break down into two main groups: Christian evangelical groups interested in converting Muslims to Christianity, and Jewish politically active groups interested in serving Israel in the loosest terms. But these organizations, the recipients of these millions of dollars, employ an entire infrastructure of individuals whose full-time job is to attack, malign and distort the image of Islam and Muslims.
The impact of a network capable of spending over $100 million, just from 2017 to 2019, is felt by every Muslim on the face of this earth. The impact is felt by our children in their schools, by their parents in their workplaces. The impact is felt internationally by what non-Muslims say and feel about Muslims around the world. The impact is felt in China, in India, in Burma. The impact is even felt by Muslims within Muslim countries themselves. The impact is felt as Muslim intellectuals - whether consciously or subconsciously - learn to be alienated, embarrassed and threatened by anything within Islamic culture and history, and to constantly feel on the defensive. You pause for a second and reflect on the facts that this report flags.
Have we ever before in history had not just governmental policies commanding great armies with huge budgets, but so many people donating so much to simply malign and slander a faith and its followers? Many people were willing to sacrifice millions of dollars that could have been spent on luxury items, on material objects, on egoistic indulgences. These people decided that instead of treating their own egos to material objects, that they would rather give that money to demonize Islam and Muslims around the world, either because they love Christ more than anything and they want Christ to defeat Islam, or because they believe they love the Zionist idea and the state of Israel more than anything, and want the Zionist ideal to always be dominant over Islam and Muslims.
When we look at this amount of spending, does it remind you of a historical fact? The obvious answer is yes. This spending is undertaken by private individuals represented by private organizations to literally raise an army that maligns, attacks and assaults a religion and its followers. The obvious parallel is something deeply embedded in the mind and conscience of the West: The Crusades. The difference is the Crusades were declared military campaigns by governments in the West against Islam in the East. But here, coupled with military policies that target Muslims at will, are these huge so-called charitable institutions that dedicate an enormous amount of sources towards Islamophobia. Think about that. We often accuse non-Muslims of materialism, but it is not Muslims who give the most to serve an idea, a cause, or a principle. It is the crusading non-Muslims who do so. We often say that politics in the non-Muslim world is marked with realism and pragmatism, but it is not the Muslim world that engages in ideological politics. Indeed, it is quite often non-Muslims who do not simply satisfy themselves with pragmatic politics, with real politics, but instead put an ideology, an idea, a principle ahead of pragmatism.
The patient, being Muslim, looks at the doctor, represented by the technologically, scientifically advanced West. But the doctor constantly lies to the patient. You look at the doctor and think that they are driven by an unprincipled sense of consumption and self-promotion. But it turns out that the doctor is driven by an agenda, by a set of principles. You look at the doctor and think that they live egotistically and hedonistically, but in reality this doctor is actually very much ideological. The ideology of the doctor, whether consciously or subconsciously held, is to always dominate and subjugate the patient. The patient deludes themselves into believing, "I care about my religion more than anything in the world." Really? A huge part of your trauma is because you, in truth, do not care about your religion. Why is it that, from 2017 to 2019, there are Christians and Jews willing to dedicate over $100 million to doing nothing but funding your subjugation, your control, controlling your intellect and controlling your conscience? The effect of this money is felt by our children in their schools and by their parents in their workplaces.
For every Muslim family that has a child that converted to Christianity, the culprit is this money. For every Muslim family that has had a Muslim child become a drug addict, there is a very high possibility that at least a portion of responsibility can be attributed to this Islamophobic money that made a Muslim identity so challenging and traumatizing. For every Muslim family that has had children that grow up disillusioned and alienated from who they are as human beings, this money plays a massive role. The impact of this money is enormous. The trauma is undeniable. Over $100 million was spent from 2017 to 2019 by people committed to the idea of alienating us from our faith.
Of course, because there is so much money, it influences politics. We have, as the CAIR report documents, all types of politicians groveling to get part of this money and, in return, target and attack Muslims and Islam. What do you do with a patient who not only refuses to spend money to free himself or herself from this abusive doctor, not only refuses to spend money on finding an alternative means of treatment, but a patient who has often fallen into a relationship with their abuser where they have become addicted to the abuse itself?
Not only do Muslims not even come close to matching the amount spent against their religion, not only do they not spend, but we witness an amazing phenomenon, where Muslims - in this case, the United Arab Emirates and Saudis - contribute money to Islamophobic organizations. Doing so does not at all act as a disqualifier among their fellow Muslims. They can do so, and they can find many Muslims in the world that still speak about countries like Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt in neutral, if not positive, terms.
What do we do when, as the report documents, the Trump administration appointed and empowered more Islamophobes, more racists, more Islam-haters than any administration in the world? Yet, we have plenty of Muslims that either like Trump, defend Trump, or apologize for Trump, saying, "He is not really an Islamophobe. He is just a pragmatic politician. He is just playing politics." The Muslim patient is not just ill-informed. The Muslim patient has become completely disconnected from reality. The Muslim patient is experiencing constant hallucinations and delusions. How do we liberate the Muslim patient from the clutches of this abusive doctor?
What do we do when, in the same week that this report comes out confronting us with the painful fact that while one goes around as a Muslim scholar, as a committed Muslim, begging for a donation of $100 here and $100 there, those who absolutely hate you and hate your religion can count on millions of dollars being donated to serve their cause? What do you do when, as a committed Muslim, you have an extremely hard time finding fellow Muslims who are willing to put aside their egos, their self-interest, their aspirations, and their professional goals in order to serve Islam as a cause? When you have such a hard time finding Muslims who are committed to a self-sacrificial extent?
There are many non-Muslims who are willing to give up their entire lives to do nothing but attack and malign our faith. How many of us remember that we just passed the 20th anniversary of Guantanamo? That 20 years later, after the imprisoning of Muslims in Guantanamo, many Muslims remain there, that the entire enterprise of Guantanamo detaining high-value assets in the war against terrorism turned out to be a sham, that the intelligence gathered from Guantanamo detainees turned out to be largely useless in the fight against terrorism? That for 20 years, Guantanamo has destroyed the lives of thousands of Muslims and continues to do so? The Muslim patient is oblivious.
I just read an interview with Amy Goodman of the first Muslim chaplain, James Yee, who objected to the fact that Muslims were being tortured and mistreated, that Guantanamo detained people who were clearly underage, and people who were clearly innocent. For his troubles, that Muslim chaplain was, in turn, arrested and imprisoned in Guantanamo. Among Muslims, how many people have read the book that James Yee wrote? How many people have even bothered to listen to his interview? How many people even consider Guantanamo a personal issue? It creates an exception to the entire edifice of human rights and humanitarian law. That exception is a big Muslim exception. The entire logic of a place like Guantanamo is that Muslims are an exception. We care about human rights, we care about humanitarian values, but not when it comes to Muslims.
The Muslim patient is very ill. How many people know that Guantanamo, for reasons no one can explain to this day, imprisoned numerous Uyghur Muslims and Chechen Muslims who were not even accused of plotting against the United States or Europe, who were not even accused of being part of a terrorist organization? How many people know how many Chinese Muslim lives were thoroughly destroyed because of Guantanamo? How many Chechen Muslim lives were thoroughly destroyed because of Guantanamo?
I read an article about a Uyghur Muslim woman in China, sentenced to 14 years in a concentration camp because she was accused of teaching the Qur’an. She was arrested with copies of the Qur’an. With the plight of Uyghurs Muslims in China, in Guantanamo, in Saudi Arabia, in Egypt, in the Emirates: the Muslim patient is very ill, because all of these are illnesses, failures, diseases. The Muslim patient continues to be oblivious. The Muslim patient continues to hold on to the myth that the world progresses, basing itself solely on rational, objective principles of progress. The Muslim patient is oblivious to how much of the world is, in fact, ideologically driven; not by pragmatism or materialism, but by the ideology of power, dominance and control. That, within the ideological paradigm, Muslims and Islam only belong in the lower tiers, in the subservient tiers. Exactly like the Crusades, exactly like colonialism. The terms of expression and manifestation are different, but the reality is very much the same.
A good friend sent me a copy of a document that has just become public: a 1964 contract signed by the Saudi government with the British government. According to this contract, the British government agreed to supply the Saudi government with a military unit called BMM SANG, where the British government agreed to provide a military unit for an indefinite duration. The military unit would exist and serve as long as the Saudis wanted it to serve, in return for a substantial amount of money and other remunerations. The British military unit had one purpose and one purpose only: to keep the Saudi family and Saudi government in power.
This contract was signed in 1964, at the heart of the time when Saudi Arabia was exporting Wahhabi Islam - at the very height of the time when the Islam that you and I were raised with, that preached to us how it is haram to celebrate the Prophet's birthday, how it is haram to greet Christians or Jews, how Muslim women should be veiled and secluded. The champions of this Islam were paying their former colonial masters in an official agreement so that they can be kept in power, whether their people wanted them or not.
Why do you think the British government would sign an agreement with the so-called "servant of the two holy sites," to keep them in power, whether their people want them or not? The purpose of that military unit is to make sure no one can remove this family from power. Do you think that this government has any incentive to promote an idea of Islam that is consistent with democracy or human rights? Do you think that with the way the structures of power work, there is any reason that this government, like so many other Western governments, is in any mood to talk about an Islam that teaches adherence, dignity, freedom, liberty?
Who do you think are the people that this government is willing to fund when it comes to Islam? Who are the people that, do you think, this government is willing to hire? Is this not just an indication of the same world we exist in today, a world of smoke and mirrors, where colonialism is very much a reality? Crusading is very much a reality, but it now has all become camouflaged, more nuanced and sophisticated.
It all has to do with the consciousness and the willpower of the patient. When is this patient going to tell the doctor, "Go away, I do not want to listen to you anymore. I am going to look within so I can start healing. I am going to confront my demons. I am going to confront reality"? The United Arab Emirates was just elected to another term as the Muslim representative on the Human Rights Council, an international body that champions the cause of human rights. There were Muslims, all on the payroll of the United Arab Emirates, both in and out of the United States, who cheered as the Emirates continued to play a role in the Human Rights Council in the United Nations.
Sisi of Egypt just had a conference on human rights. One of the worst fascist abusers of human rights on the face of the earth today just had a conference in Egypt about human rights. As the United Arab Emirates takes a seat on the Human Rights Council and is praised by the Muslims it bought for its tolerance and humanitarian values, a journalist named Huda El-Sarari exposed unbelievable human rights abuses committed by Emirati forces in Yemen. Thanks to Huda All-Sarari, we learned about the secret detention centers and prisons run by the Emiratis in Yemen. We learned about the people burned, cooked alive in these detention centers. We learned about the mass, pervasive scale of sexual assaults committed by Emirati soldiers in these Yemeni detention centers. Huda Al-Sarari is then targeted by the Emirates, as detailed in the article, “She Helped Expose Secret UAE-run Prisons in Yemen and Paid a Steep Price.”
Huda Al-Sarari's life has been destroyed. Her family has been destroyed. This is going on at the same time that the Emirates, through the power of its money, takes a seat in the international body of the Human Rights Council. At the same time that we have the story of Huda Al-Sarari, I was again reminded of the human rights activist Ahmed Mansour, an Emirati citizen, who, because he objected to the human rights violations by the Emirati government against its citizens, disappeared. The last time he was seen, he was held in solitary confinement, tortured to a point that he became unrecognizable to his family.
The world has learned, in the same way as Guantanamo, that there is an exception to human rights and humanitarian values, and that is Muslims. The world has learned there is an exception the prohibition against genocide, and that is Muslims. The world has learned that there is an exception to the prohibition of colonizing people's homes and expelling them from their land, and that is the Muslim exception. They talk about Muslim exceptionalism. Muslim exceptionalism is not about maintaining the integrity of Islam. Muslim exceptionalism means that Muslims are an exception to the conscious and consciousness of the world.
In the same way, the world has also learned that there is an exception to integrity, truth, authenticity and speech, they have learned that when it comes to Muslims, they can take their money because values do not matter. Muslims are very good at lying to themselves. They can talk about being the guardians of the two holy sites, about Salafi Islam and Tawhidi Islam and Al-Wala' Wal-Bara'. They can talk about all types of things, but when it comes to behind the scenes, they rely on the foreign occupying force to stay forcibly in power. They can talk about how Islam is against democracy because Muslims want to continue justifying the rule of a corrupt family like the Al Saud. They can talk about tolerance of the Emirates, but have their prisons full and make torture a consistent practice. They can love dictators like Sisi. They can respect religious figures who are hypocritical, ignorant liars. The world has learned not just to fear Muslims, not just to hate Muslims, but also to not take Muslims too seriously because Muslims do not take themselves seriously. It is like that patient. "This patient is hallucinating all the time. They say all types of things. They are a sick person. Who listens to the hallucinations of a sick person?" That is precisely how the world deals with us. We are the hallucinating patient.
But here is the thing. This patient is actually not sick at all. This patient does not have a virus, nor do they have a bacteria. They do not even have a fever. This patient is actually completely healthy, the problem is that this patient has been listening to their abusive doctor for years. The abusive doctor has convinced this patient that he, in fact, is ill. So the patient feels ill, but in reality, God has given this patient a health superior to the health of his doctor.
How do we liberate the patient? We are not going to liberate the patient by continuing to lie to the patient, continuing to affirm the patient's delusions and continuing to validate the patient's psychosis. The only path to liberating the patient is to break in, confront the patient, and scream in his face, "You are not ill. You are fully healthy. Get up. Get dressed. Divorce this doctor, and walk out. Learn to think for yourself, feel for yourself, act for yourself, represent yourself, and promise yourself to always be truthful and honest with yourself, because what landed you in the hospital at the mercy of this doctor is the fact that you learned to lie and deceive yourself." That is it. That is really it.