Al salamu alaykum! Greetings of Peace! Welcome to the last ten days of Ramadan! May your last days of Ramadan be full of love, beauty, elevation and deeper connection with God! First, let us pray for all the Muslims around the world who are suffering under injustice, oppression or worse during this blessed month. May God give them strength, patience, comfort and endurance, while those of us who are able to act freely without fear of imprisonment or oppression can hopefully work to do something, and at a minimum, pray.
Last week, I wrote that one of my favorite parts of Ramadan is the unexpected Ramadan miracles. I want to share my Ramadan miracle with you. Years ago, I dreamed of one day creating a small press - a publication outfit that could publish Dr. Abou El Fadl's works and convert stories. My first experience with publishing our own book was with the first edition of Conference of the Books: The Search for Beauty in Islam, back around the year 2000. A little history. Back then, we had collected all of the essays that Dr. Abou El Fadl had published in "The Minaret Magazine," part of the Islamic Center of Southern California, and created a book manuscript. I put together a marketing plan and shopped it around to all the Muslims presses. All of them rejected the manuscript.
I knew how valuable these essays were and was determined to publish the work. Ultimately, we published it with a small imprint of Rowman and Littlefield, called University Press of America (UPA). This little imprint was in the business of publishing high quality, often esoteric, work that deserved to be published but was not perceived to have enough market value to justify being published by a larger press. Although UPA agreed to publish it, the catch was that we had to do all the legwork ourselves - we had to provide everything from the camera-ready artwork for the interior pages to the book cover design, and have the text copy edited and indexed. We delivered everything and they printed it. For me, it was a great learning experience and absolutely worth the trouble. It gave me the confidence to do it a second time with Dr. Abou El Fadl's book, And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses. The first editions of that book, The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses, were published by Muslim presses and looked horrible. Trivia question: what were the colors of the covers of the first three editions of A&A published by Muslim presses? Answer: Orange, Brown and Green. You can see what they look like here along with the original covers of Conference of the Books.
Fast forward twenty years, and I was still dreaming of this press. By now, The Usuli Institute had been offering weekly virtual khutbahs and they were amazing. How wonderful would it be to collect these khutbahs and publish them as a collection in a book?
In August 2019, a PhD from the University of Edinburgh - an Usuli admirer - contacted me and offered to help with anything I needed. I shared with him the idea of this khutbah book project, and he agreed to take it on. Thus began Josef Linnhoff's journey to ultimately becoming the Editor in Chief of the Project Illumine Tafsir Project! Fast forward to 2021, now we are in Ohio in the middle of Project Illumine, and it is Ramadan. One day, Joe surprises me with the finished draft. A Ramadan gift! The dream is taking shape! Over the next year, we continue fine-tuning, designing, developing, keenly aware that if we succeed in publishing this khutbah volume, we will have accomplished several important things:
1. We would be demonstrating to the world our capability as a Muslim education institute - whatever comes out of the gate first will be our proof of product. It will answer the question of what are our true standards, values, and even quality control. We did not want to be just another Muslim press, but we wanted to be on par with other professional mainstream or academic presses. First impressions would be extremely important.
2. We would have gained valuable learning experience for our legacy project - ultimately publishing the complete multi-volume Project Illumine Qur'anic commentaries. It would be an important step in preparing for the most weighty responsibility of doing justice to publishing an entire tafsir!
3. In publishing our first book, it would mean that we would also be establishing the press that I had dreamed of for so long.
My Ramadan miracle came through earlier this week, when to our collective surprise, after submitting all the necessary elements and anticipating a much longer wait time, we found that this entire dream came true shockingly early! All of us were caught off guard, but absolutely delighted!
I am so pleased and proud to share with you this dream realized, facilitated and accelerated by the grace of God! Let me introduce to you (drumroll....) the new imprint of The Usuli Institute - USULI PRESS (check out our new website here:
- AND our first book publication! The paperback version is NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon.com here!
The hardback and eBook will be right around the corner insha'Allah!
There is so much to be said about the launch of a new Muslim press and a new book...and I plan to say more in my introduction before tomorrow's halaqa insha'Allah, when we will officially announce the launch of USULI PRESS and The Prophet's Pulpit. It is a Ramadan miracle, a dream come true, and to me, much more than the launch of a new book. I believe this book sets a new standard for Muslim publishing, in terms of aesthetics, rigorous content, and unapologetic conviction of belief. But more than anything, it is a symbol for what Muslims can and should be - at the forefront of creating knowledge that is consequential for humanity, delivered in an aesthetically pleasing presentation, and rigorous in its quality of content.
What is the book about? Here is the description:
"In this collection of twenty-two Islamic sermons, Khaled Abou El Fadl, distinguished law professor and classically trained Islamic jurist, delivers incisive commentaries on the current state of Islam and the Muslim world from the symbolic pulpit of the Prophet of Islam. Part Qur'anic exegesis and part socio-ethical commentary, this volume showcases the knowledge, enlightenment, and dedication to justice that once propelled the Islamic civilization to great heights of human achievement. It attempts to illuminate the spiritual and ethical path forward for Muslims amid the challenges of injustice, oppression, and the rising tide of Islamophobia in our world."
Joe has done an incredible job of editing these powerhouse khutbahs. You will "hear" the Shaykh's voice in every profound chapter. The book is readable, accessible and soul moving - your mind is stimulated, your heart is lit, and your understanding of Islam elevated. It is an education in applying Islamic ethics to our current environment. It is proof that Muslims have an inspired message for humanity, and the potential to be a moral force for change. It is tangible evidence that Muslims are smart, articulate and relevant. If you are like me, you are done with Muslims being seen as stupid, backwards or apathetic. It is time for an intellectual transformation... and it begins with good knowledge.
The Prophet's Pulpit is a beautiful book, inside and out! I believe it has the power to turn things around for Muslims - if they know about it and read it! Help us get it into the hands of everyone you know so we can work together towards a transformation. I am buying THE PROPHET'S PULPIT as my Eid present to everyone I know. Will you join me?
Lastly, I want to mention the book's dedication:
"The book is dedicated to Muslims around the world suffering under injustice and oppression."
Perhaps with this knowledge, we will make a difference. May God help us all!
To be continued. I will say more tomorrow! Join us online for the concluding session of Surah 58: Al Mujadala, our 75th Project Illumine surah!
**SAVE THE DATE! PART 2 OF DISPELLING MYTHS FROM AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE: Q&A ON SEXUAL AND SPIRITUAL ABUSE! SUNDAY, 15 MAY 2022 at 4 PM EASTERN TIME!!**
Transparent, honest and empowering. This is a discussion to be shared far and wide - we cover an important list of questions that many people have about what to do in cases of abuse, especially at the hands of religious authority.
Part 2 will 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.
Virtual live-streamed Taraweeh Prayers!
With the start of Ramadan, we have once again been live-streaming nightly Taraweeh prayers! If you would like to join us in prayer virtually, be sure to subscribe to The Usuli Institute YouTube channel and you will get notifications when we go live. We usually go live sometime between 10:30 pm to 11:30 pm ET, depending on the day.
CATCH UP ON USULI CONTENT DURING RAMADAN!
Master Class on Muslims, Race and Law: Experience Professor Abou El Fadl's UCLA Law School class on Muslims, Race and Law! In this session, he discusses the history of Black Muslim movements in the U.S.; post-colonial history in the Middle East; and the politics of Saudi Arabia, among many other things. Importantly, it is an edifying, holistic view of the history, dynamics, challenges and place of Muslims today as a racialized group.
Keynote Lecture to the 2022 National Muslim Law Association Conference: Dr. Abou El Fadl shares his experiences as a Muslim pioneer - the only Muslim in his law school class - and throughout his 30-year 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.
DR. ABOU EL FADL TARGETED BY ISLAMOPHOBES AGAIN
**We are rattling the cages of the Islamophobes!! Whenever they find something spectacular that Dr. Abou El Fadl does that can change the hearts and minds of reasonable people, they can't stand it and write him up! Once again, Dr. Abou El Fadl was featured by several Islamophobic websites including Campus Watch and Middle East Forum (Daniel Pipes) on his keynote speech! Check it out!
Ramadan Matching Gift Program - Double your impact!
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!
Want to discover the beauty of Islam anew?
People often ask me where to start if they want to take this journey with us from the beginning. My own recommended reading list begins with The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books and The Great Theft: Wresting Islam from the Extremists. Then third would be And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses. Fourth would be Reasoning with God: Reclaiming Shari'ah in the Modern Age. AND of course, everything by Dr. Abou El Fadl either through the Usuli website or the online archive for Dr. Abou El Fadl's work at www.searchforbeauty.org.
Want to stock up on three of those books while they are on sale? Here they are! 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 Project Illumine halaqa tomorrow night at 6 pm ET! Please keep all of us in your prayers!! 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