I start the khutbah by just noting that today is the beginning of the month of Dhul Hijjah. Dhul Hijjah is the 12th month of the year in the Islamic calendar, and so after Dhul Hijjah, we begin a new year in the Islamic calendar. And at the end of the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah, begins Al Eid al Akbar or Al Eid al Adha. These are the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah, in which hajj is wrapping up; because on the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah is the Wuquf al-Arafah, and then the 10th day is the beginning of Eid al Adha.
It should also be noted that Dhul Hijjah is the second month of the four sanctified months in which, according to the Islamic tradition, the shedding of blood and conflict should be avoided at all costs, if Muslims still remembered their tradition. It is always important to try to remember the Islamic calendar and the Islamic count, because this is part and parcel of any real attempt at decolonizing our mind. Part of the colonial legacy is that Islamic time, Islamic space, and Islamic memory were largely eradicated; and even the sense of pride and investiture in the Islamic tradition, Islamic meaning, Islamic space, Islamic time - we are all thoroughly compromised.
One last note, perhaps, is that it is highly recommended in the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah to increase our dhikr and our worship. The Prophet used to fast the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah, and break fast on the 10th day, the first day of Eid. We have cumulative traditions that the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah is a blessed time where worship and dhikr count for much more than they would count normally.
Interestingly, this point about Islamic time and how we relate to whether the way that the Islamic tradition claimed time, space or meaning, is all part and parcel of any understanding of the way that a tradition claims values. When we are alienated from all the components that create our sense of Islamic meaning, in effect, Islamic values become more of a theoretical construct than a lived reality. When people find comfort, find the sense of familiarity, find a sense of rootedness and a sense of belonging in any tradition - rather than discuss the tradition, debate the tradition, argue about the tradition - they simply live it. They embody it as if it is as natural to them as the air they breathe or the food they consume.
The fact that so many Muslims in the West find it important to argue, discuss or debate about so many aspects of the Islamic tradition, aspects that for the most part, they are not equipped to research or understand, and do not have either the time nor the training to really say anything that is meaningful– the fact that Muslims find that the way that they engage the Islamic tradition is to debate it, rather than embody it and live it, is a powerful indication of the extent to which we have become alienated from our own Islamic tradition.
How do we sanctify the sanctified months? If we were raised with the natural inclination that you go out of your way in four months during the year, and especially in the month of Dhul Hijjah, not to raise your voice; to make an extra effort to reach out to your neighbors; to make an extra effort to find out if near relatives and distant relatives are in a good state, and to go through the extra effort to help near relatives and distant relatives; if during these four months, you were raised with the natural inclination that any act of violence is deeply shameful and an affront to God, you would not have to debate the four sanctified months, especially the month of Dhul Hijjah, then it would come to you naturally. It would be a part of your very psyche, of your very DNA. You would do what is Islamically embedded as a natural act, as if it makes the most sense in the world.
The fact that we have reached a point in our history where we have to remind ourselves that today is the last month of the Islamic calendar in the year 1443 and that Dhul Hijjah is one of the sanctified months speaks volumes as to how far we have drifted from our own tradition and the extent to which our minds have been shaped, formed, and oriented by influences other than the Islamic tradition.
Of course, the question that always confronts us is, "What to do? How can it be different?" I can tell you what definitely does not work. What definitely does not work, for instance, is for Muslims to jump on social media and start pontificating upon the Qira'at, the variant readings in the Qur'an. It is a deeply rich topic that requires years of investment in education and knowledge to even speak coherently about, leave alone to say anything useful about. What does not help is that Muslims feel equipped to shoot from the hip when it comes to their own tradition. What does not help is that we do not respect our own tradition sufficiently enough to say, "Before I say anything, I must make sure that I am qualified to say what I say; that I have done my due diligence in understanding and mastering all that I need to understand and master before I spew out opinions about my own tradition." That is an example of what does not work, interestingly enough, in reflecting upon what does work.
Interestingly enough, the recent decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States is a powerful, albeit unfortunate, example of what serious people with serious minds can accomplish; people who pretend to exist hedonistically; people who pretend to exist without purpose. Even if their goals and purposes are actually evil, they live a purposeful life. They live a life where they do not debate and argue about trivial matters, but they go for the jugular in enforcing and implementing their value system in the world.
To set the stage, we all know that during the Trump presidency, Trump appointed three Supreme Court justices, and now with these Trump appointees, the Supreme Court has a clear right-wing majority. The right-wing majority in the Supreme Court is six to three. We have six justices that are clearly neoconservative right-wingers, and in the recent ongoing term of the Supreme Court, we have had a number of decisions that are extremely significant.
As I hope all of you know by now, the Supreme Court reversed its decision in Roe v. Wade and held that the doctrine of substantive due process does not constitutionally guarantee the right to an abortion for women. The Supreme Court did not say that abortions are illegal, but that there is no constitutional right to an abortion, which now means that state legislatures across the country can pass whatever laws they deem fit, either regulating abortion or outlawing abortions altogether. But the Supreme Court did not stop there. In another very significant decision, the Supreme Court took nearly the opposite stand when it came to gun control laws. There, they said that the letter of the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, and therefore, a New York law that attempted to impose restrictions on the owning and handling of a firearm was unconstitutional.
Furthermore, while the Supreme Court has not yet reversed its precedent requiring Miranda warnings, something that not only the United States has become famous for: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you." These sets of warnings, known as the Miranda warnings, are based in substantive due process jurisprudence.
While the Supreme Court has not yet reversed that, in another radical decision, they have held that if the police fail to give you your Miranda warnings, you cannot sue them. You cannot sue them because they violated your constitutional rights. Theoretically then, if the police force failed to give you your Miranda warnings, we are not sure what the consequences of that would be. Is it just that charges against you might be dismissed or is that in itself now at risk?
Moreover, in another radical decision, and I will explain why I say "radical" in a moment, the Supreme Court held that religious schools have a right under certain circumstances to demand and receive state funding. So the secular state would be obligated to use taxpayer money to support a Christian school under certain circumstances. We are not sure yet what the circumstances are and how expansive that ruling will be. Does it abolish decades upon decades of precedent that say taxpayers’ money cannot be used to support religious schools because of the separation between church and state?
Yet in another decision, the same Supreme Court held that a coach in a public school has the right to lead prayers in school, in the middle of a football field, joined by the players, i.e. his students. Of course, with the authority that a coach has in a public school, when that coach imposes or leads a prayer, students will be pressured to join if they want to stay in the good graces of the coach. Now according to the Supreme Court, that school does not have the power to order the coach not to conduct a Christian prayer, which is unrelated to his role as a coach. The Supreme Court said, "No, prayers led by teachers in a public school are entirely fine, they do not violate the separation of church and state."
Perhaps more importantly than all of this is a decision that came down that is nothing short of earth-shattering, because it puts the entire future of the planet at risk. The Supreme Court ruled that the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, is very limited in its power to regulate emissions in states. So the EPA is very limited in its ability to prevent the contamination and the destruction of the environment of our planet. The Supreme Court also indicated that such regulation should come from Congress. If you know anything about environmental law, the regulatory work of an agency like the EPA cannot be done by Congress. Congress is not equipped to regulate, and if Congress cannot delegate the power to regulate to an agency like the Environmental Protection Agency, then we have all witnessed the shortening of the life of this planet, right before our eyes, with everyone standing around helplessly.
Now, it is critical to remember that in all of these decisions made by this Supreme Court, the Supreme Court went against established precedent in every single ruling, precedent that has been the law of this land for decades. The reasoning of the Supreme Court in each one of these decisions is nothing more than, "Our brethren in the past got it wrong and today, we are getting it right." This is why it is accurate to describe what is going on as nothing short of an illegal revolution. Decades of legal precedent reversed in an instant, abandoned.
The irony is this is the same Supreme Court that used to mock, in a typically orientalist colonialist discourse, Islamic law for what it used to call "qadi justice." According to this Supreme Court, qadi justice meant whimsical justice; where a Muslim would sit under a palm tree and adjudicate cases on the basis of nothing other than ideology. But today, this Supreme Court, that has for decades, had dicta and jargon that said, "If we were an institution of qadi justice, we would do whatever we wish, but we are an institution of law," today, the six justices— particularly five of them— have consistently reversed American jurisprudence on so many fronts, with no explanation more than "Our predecessors got it wrong and today, we are getting it right."
To say that "our predecessors got it wrong" raises a whole batch of questions. Are you more educated than your predecessors? Are you smarter? Are you more knowledgeable? What is it about you that assures us that you are getting it right while your predecessors got it wrong? Well, the answer is, "It is because it is. We have the power to reverse legal precedent, so we are reversing legal precedent."
As a Muslim, you may say, "So what? I do not like abortion anyway, I do not support it. As a Muslim, I do not plan to own a gun. If the planet is going to die, maybe the Hereafter will come and it will be over," sort of like the Protestant fundamentalists who cannot wait until the end of times. If that is your attitude, you missed the point.
We have to understand that, as Muslims, we are a minority in this country. We have to understand that there are already lawsuits filed every year against numerous school boards, both for public and private schools, because there are people who think schools are not sufficiently negative about Islam. Every year, schools try to have a chapter about Islam, and there are parents who do not want their children to learn about Islam or anything that is remotely positive about Islam, so they sue and demand that schools not teach something that is fair or remotely balanced about Islam. Every year, there are tons of lawsuits that attempt to block the existence of Muslim cemeteries, mosques and schools. But most of all, every year, there is a flood of Islamophobic discourse that teaches our children to be embarrassed about being Muslim. Instead of being proud to say, "Yes, I am Muslim! So what?" They would rather not mention it. They would rather not talk about it. They would rather not dwell on it.
We are a minority! And the thing about minorities is that they are at the mercy of majorities. Minorities are vulnerable, because majorities can do to minorities whatever they wish. So what do minorities need to protect themselves from majorities? They need rights. We are not going to be able to go to the democratic process and convince a majority not to persecute us, because if the majority is indoctrinated by Islamophobia, there is no way we are going to be able to reason with them. That is precisely why minorities celebrate rights, so that if I am persecuted, if my child is persecuted, I can go to court and say, "My rights have been violated."
But with this Supreme Court, including its reversal of Roe v. Wade, the issue is not abortion, or just guns, or just prayer in schools. Remember that this is the same Supreme Court that upheld the Muslim ban. The issue is, when the majority escalates its targeting of Muslims and ramps up its persecution against Muslims, with the precedent that this Supreme Court is creating, we will have nothing to turn to. We will have nowhere to go. The law will be against us, because the rights that might have been guaranteed to us through the doctrines of substantive due process have been eroded by the court.
The problem is that when we get a court that does not respect the rule of law, meaning it does not respect precedent and it thinks "just because my value system is different, I can reverse whatever the law is and just cancel it out," the attitude of these justices is that this is a Christian state and a Judeo-Christian civilization, and Muslims have no place in a Christian state and Judeo-Christian civilization."
Where do you go? What do you do? When the children of Muslim families are being grabbed by child welfare services in Sweden and put up for foster care, and eventually the parental rights of Muslims are terminated and the children are put up for adoption, if you do not have rights, what do you do? Where do you go? A lot of these families sued and said, "This violates our human rights," and they lost. What do you do? Where do you go? Do you go back to Syria? Do you go back to Egypt? Do you go back to Libya, to Yemen, to Somalia, to all of these countries that have been destroyed by colonialism? Because Muslims are oblivious and ignorant, they do not even know how to negotiate their role as a minority in a Christian majority country.
I started out this khutbah by saying, "the wrong thing is when you spend your time on social media pontificating about the variant readings of the Qur'an or obscure points about the Sira, or whether the Prophet freed Maria the Copt or did not free Maria the Copt, or about lipstick, or about music, or about all the vanities that Muslims indulge in and busy themselves with." Let me give you an example of what serious people do, and please pay attention because behind all these Supreme Court decisions, in the background, there is an example of a very serious, but unfortunately, also a very immoral person. That person's name is Charles Koch. Charles Koch is considered the father of the coal industry, and the father of so much of the energy industry in this country.
The recent decision gutting the Environmental Protection Agency; the recent decision reversing Roe v. Wade; and in fact, the entire legal thrust of gutting the substantive due process provisions in the US Constitution was in effect saying to minorities, including Muslims, "You have less rights. You have less protections." Charles Koch is of course a billionaire, and as a very rich person, he could have done what Muslims do and bought extra villas in Vienna, a fancy yacht, or an exotic villa in France. Instead, Charles quietly did the following: He created an organization called Americans for Prosperity, and Americans for Prosperity conducted extraordinary campaigns to put all the three judges that Trump appointed to the Supreme Court.
Charles Koch, to support Kavanaugh's nomination, reached out to 1.2 million Americans through mail, phone calls, and even knocking on doors. They pushed hard for Justice Barrett; Justice Barrett's father worked for Shell and American Petroleum Institute. The same organization, funded by Charles Koch, campaigned aggressively for Justice Gorsuch, whose mother led the Environment Protection Agency during the Reagan era and did a horrible job. Her tenure was a disaster.
Charles Koch knew that to have enough influence in the US to get your way, you need to spend money on the right things. So he helped fund the K2 Institute, he helped fund the Competitive Enterprise Institute, he helped fund the New Civil Liberties Alliance, and helped fund Landmark Legal Foundation, as well as Americans for Prosperity. He poured millions of dollars into these organizations, and these organizations in every one of the cases that I mentioned, filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court.
So he helped put the judges on the Supreme Court, he helped organizations that argued the law before the Supreme Court, and through something called American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), as they pushed to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, they simultaneously pushed to reverse Roe v. Wade. The American Legislative Exchange Council drafted model anti-abortion laws and gave them to states for ready-made adoption.
This money given by Charles Koch went to create think tanks, to fund people who graduated from the top schools in the country, and gave them jobs to do nothing but research, write, argue and dominate the space of discourse. Charles Koch funded numerous lawyers that graduated from the top law schools to go work for these institutes, who in turn helped Trump's vision of law, helped get these justices on the Supreme Court, and helped push for the legal doctrines that they wanted.
One person, a committed billionaire, instead of spending money on more pleasure for himself and his family as Muslims do - while he let Muslims sit there and say "Allahu akbar" and "Subhanallah" all they want, and adopt all the pietistic pretenses that they want - he quietly, but effectively and intelligently, staged a complete coup that affects all of our lives.
This is the difference between a serious mind and a vain mind. This is the difference between people who are vested in their tradition and who are not. I am sure Koch was not interested in some pedantic debate with pedantic people. His money did not go to support morons, idiots, and self-declared experts. His money bought the best minds in public policy, law, economics, and business.
When these best minds worked to achieve their immoral goals, that is the party of Satan. Now I ask you, where is the party of God? Oh, yes. The party of God is busy on social media saying, "Why is this woman sitting so close to this man? Why is this woman not wearing hijab? Mashallah, we talked about wudu. Oh, Subhanallah! Let us talk about lipstick, nail polish and the variant readings of the Qur'an. Let us talk about whether the Prophet Muhammad freed the slaves or not." What a joke. The very notion that this is the party of God is a joke. A very sad, unfunny joke.
Recently, there was a ruling by the Eighth Circuit that is extremely troubling. The Eighth Circuit ruled that a state can outlaw and punish people who support divestment against Israel. According to the Eighth Circuit, the state can punish you financially, can refuse to do business with you, and can fire you if you work for the state, if you support boycotting Israel.
This is just an example of why the Supreme Court is so important, because that ruling by the Eighth Circuit is going to be appealed to the Supreme Court. Assuming that the Supreme Court grants cert - it is nearly guaranteed that the Supreme Court is going to affirm the Eighth Circuit - you will have just lost a critical right, the right to even say to people, "Do not do business with the apartheid state of Israel." If you work for the state, you could lose your job, and that would be perfectly legal.
The shortsighted and intelligence-challenged Muslims who supported Trump, who say things like, "Trump is not really anti-Muslim; he just pretends to be;" did you think of a single repercussion of someone like Trump appointing three justices in the Supreme Court that, for a long time to come, will make this country more Christian and less hospitable to you as a Muslim, less hospitable to the very concept of rights and pluralism, things that you as a minority desperately need?
There was a news item that I read, and I prayed to God that it is false and has no basis in reality. The news item that I read says that "It has been leaked that the Saudi Crown Prince is pursuing plans to grant Israelis property rights in Mecca and Medina,” and according to this news item, of course as would be expected, it is the ideological Israelis, the Jewish settlers, who would be very interested in buying property in Mecca and Medina, as they have been buying property in Egypt already. As if the experience with Palestine, when Jewish settlers came and bought land until they became a force dominant enough to expel the native indigenous population, has not taught anyone anything.
Peace is a challenge far more difficult to win than war. When it is between unequal partners - peace between colonial powers and indigenous populations were not peace settlements and peace agreements - they are effectively agreements where the indigenous population surrenders its fate to the dominant colonial power.
This is not a rumor. This is actually a reality. As the Supreme Court is radically changing the landscape of the lives of American citizens, as the planet is in danger of dying, as there are hundreds of millions of people facing the threat of starvation, and the G7, the industrialized seven, committed resources that are woefully inadequate to save the lives of millions who are going to starve to death in the near future.
The Biden administration has been very busy. What have they been busy with? Quietly, without much fanfare, they have created something called the Negev Forum Steering Committee. The Negev Forum Steering Committee consists of the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, and of course, the United Arab Emirates, and the US. The Negev Steering Committee met in the Negev Desert to discuss joint efforts between Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and the United States to cooperate and work together on the following issues - and they created working groups on all these issues: clean energy, education and coexistence, food and water security, health, regional security, and tourism.
Who is the president of the Negev Forum? Israel. Where is the next meeting for the Negev Forum going to be held? In Israel. The joint statement pays lip service to Palestine and Palestinians. In fact, it does not mention Palestine. It just says, "We will promote peace for Palestinians." Of course, notice Palestinians are not included.
So the Biden administration is busy, while all of this is going on, making sure that Israel and these Arab countries work together on everything from energy, food and water, health and regional security, but to hell with the Palestinians. The Palestinians are not invited, they are not on the agenda, and they can just simply be forgotten. What about the Aqsa Mosque and Quds in Jerusalem? They were not even mentioned.
Let me be very clear. Look at these elements: Clean energy. Does Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco or the United Arab Emirates have the technological edge when it comes to energy? No. Israel and the United States have the technological edge. Education and coexistence. Do any of the schools of these states rank high in terms of quality of education? Absolutely not. They are at the bottom of the pit. Who ranks high in education? Israel and the United States. Food and water security. Are any of these states technologically advanced in agriculture and water systems? Absolutely not. Israel and the United States again have the edge. Health. Are any of these countries actually inventors in the field of health? Absolutely not. Israel and the United States have the edge.
What about regional security? The militaries of Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates are a joke. Their militaries are there to ensure dictators stay in power, but other than that, their militaries are a joke. Who has the edge? Who actually builds weapons and sells weapons? Yes, the United States and Israel.
How about tourism? Well, that is one thing. The tourists come from Israel, and they go vacation in countries like Egypt, Morocco, and maybe the United Arab Emirates. So the roles are the traditional roles of the colonizer and the colonized. The colonized serves the colonizer in the service industry. "Master, come. Eat and I will serve you. Drink and I will serve you. Vacation and I will serve you." But the colonizer is the one who controls the energy, the education, the agriculture, the industry, the military.
What we are witnessing is the rise of a new Middle East, where Israel is an uncontested super power, with all the Arab and Muslim countries in the region as clientele states, serving the dominant colonial power. Egypt, with its hundred-million population, will be nothing but servants of Israel. So will Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Israel decides policy, and these countries implement it. Israel dictates its will, and they abide.
Is this in the interest of the United States? Is it in the interest of the United States that we do not mind? Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates are all led by grotesque, despotic, authoritarian regimes, and we do not care. We are further vested in keeping these regimes in power so that they can abide by the Negev Agreement with Israel. All we want from these populations is to live as slaves: silent, obedient and quiet, while the ones who matter are Americans and Israelis.
And Palestinians? Necro-politics. They are already the living dead. It is the same logic that made Britain decide that it is Al-Saud who will control the Hejaz and dominate over Mecca and Medina, and Muslims have nothing to say about it. We have been locked in this paradigm since the age of colonialism. We are dictated to, but we never matter.
I submit to you that it is because of the absence of people like Charles Koch in our Ummah. There are billionaire Muslims, but they do not invest in intelligence, education, or actual policies that help and serve Muslims around the world - while everyone else pursues what they think is in their best interest, aggressively, quietly and without much fanfare. We so badly need the intelligent Muslim, the thinking Muslim, the aware Muslim.
God forgive our sins. God, guide us to the straight path, help us to be real Muslims, true Muslims, to rise to the challenge of being your vicegerents on this earth.