Al salamu alaykum dear Friends,
Ramadan Mubarak! Ramadan is here again! I pray you are safe, well and geared up for the start of our blessed month of Ramadan insha'Allah! Regardless of which day you begin to fast (we are starting on Saturday, insha'Allah!), I pray that every day will bring you love, mercy, forgiveness, acceptance and elevation from our Beloved Maker. There is so much to be said about the beginning of a month of spiritual training and striving towards the Divine. May you reach your Ramadan goals, and may God aid and sustain you on your journey insha'Allah!
There was a lot happening at Usuli this past week!
First, Dr. Abou El Fadl delivered the keynote lecture to the 2022 National Muslim Law Association Conference last Saturday, sharing his experiences as a Muslim pioneer - the only Muslims in his law school class - and what has taking place over the last 30 years in his career as a law professor at UCLA Law School. Given the climate for Muslims in America now, it is an opportune time for Muslim lawyers and aspiring lawyers to think beyond the prestige, paycheck and power that lawyers can achieve. Dr. Abou El Fadl counsels the importance of considering what God would find most pleasing in yielding that path to power in the service of social justice and the disempowerment of Muslims everywhere.
Then later that same evening, we covered Day 10 of Surah Al Nisa', as we zero in on what we think will be the conclusion of Surah Al Nisa' tomorrow insha'Allah! Another stunning halaqa in the Project Illumine series!
On Sunday, we released a recording of my interview with Christen Amer of UntoIslam.com about conversion. They have interviewed me twice before about my conversion story and my advice for people considering converting to Islam. Interestingly, Christen and I had a long conversation that lasted almost an hour and a half in total, which included questions about the founding of the Usuli Institute and Project Illumine. When the final edited version was posted on UntoIslam.com, it was only 37 minutes long and did not include the discussions about Usuli and Project Illumine, so we decided to make the full version available through Usuli in two parts. Part One is a good introduction and overview of who we are and what we are doing, in case you would like to listen and/or share it with those unfamiliar with what we are doing :).
Then, back to work on Monday and Wednesday, where Professor Abou El Fadl is teaching two classes this semester at UCLA Law School: "Muslims, Race and Law," and "Political Asylum and Refugee Law." We thought it would be very interesting for people to get a flavor for what Dr. Abou El Fadl talks about in Muslims, Race and Law, in which he talks about the history, politics, law and impacts on the Muslim communities in America, with a view towards the role and impact of racism, classism and colonialism. It is a fascinating course, and this past Wednesday's class was particularly illuminating.
To me, what is most interesting and striking if you watch all of this content is the extent to which it all ties together - everything is connected, and a holistic picture emerges of our place as Muslims in a larger context of influences, forces, history and conditions. What is powerful is what can emerge from this understanding. If we understand our full picture as Muslims, we can begin to identify specific issues, and problems, and ultimately, insha'Allah, find solutions, building upon the moral foundations of the Qur'an that we are learning in Project Illumine. This totality of knowledge, understanding and empowerment through understanding the deeper meaning of the Qur'an, insha'Allah, can be the way forward for Muslims. That is my hope, wish and dream. It starts with investing in learning, so here is our contribution this week to our collective repository of knowledge! :) Looking forward to the next installment this coming week between today's khutbah and tomorrow's halaqa insha'Allah!
Lastly, if you haven't had a chance to watch the Q&A on Sexual and Spiritual Abuse from two Sundays ago, here it is again!
We are working on Part 2 soon insha'Allah (!) to address more myths, misconceptions and misapplications of Islamic law in approaching the issue of spiritual and sexual abuse. If you have any
questions you would like to suggest, please do write and let me know.
RAMADAN MATCHING GIFT PROGRAM!
We have created a new LaunchGood campaign to draw more attention to our Matching Gift Program for the month of Ramadan! (You can donate through LaunchGood, The Usuli Institute website or through our PayPal page - ALL DONATIONS WILL BE MATCHED!)
Some very kind souls have gifted us the ability to hold our very first Matching Gift Program during the month of Ramadan! So, all during our blessed month, every donation to The Usuli Institute will be matched dollar for dollar up to $40K! You can double your impact with your support! Alhamdullilah, we are so grateful that this opportunity will increase blessings for all involved insha'Allah! Please spread the word and mark your calendars! I pray that we can take full advantage of this blessed gift over the course of the month!
MORE GOOD NEWS: VIRTUAL BOOK SALE!!
Next, a Ramadan gift for yourself and others! Give the gift of knowledge! In conjunction with our virtual events, our publisher is running special discounts on three of Dr. Abou El Fadl's amazing books! Take 30% off the paperback versions ONLY:
1) Reasoning with God: Reclaiming Shari'ah in the Modern Age Reg. $32.00 / Sale: $22.40
2) The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books Reg. $54.00 / Sale: $37.80
3) And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses Reg. $43.99 / Sale: $30.79
ORDER NOW on Rowman.com and use code RLFANDF30 at the checkout!
These books are absolute MUST READS for every thinking Muslim! This is the perfect time to load up your Ramadan reading list and get some amazing books at great prices! :) For those who want to know more about Usuli Institute methodology and the scholarship of Dr. Abou El Fadl, these books are gems.
Looking forward to seeing you online for our khutbah today and the continuation of Surah 4: Al Nisa' - Day 11!!! - tomorrow night at 6 pm ET.
May God bless and elevate you always! Please keep all of us in your prayers as we continue on our mission to complete and publish the entire Project Illumine tafsir in book form! May God keep you and your loved ones safe and protected and on the most beautiful path always! Hope to see you online soon insha'Allah!
In Peace and Hope,
The Usuli Institute