I pray you are well! In my introduction before last Saturday's halaqa, I was excited to share news of what became of our secret mission from the summer - the one week where we canceled halaqas and said we couldn't talk about what we were doing or where we were going. Alhamdulillah, with last Friday's momentous launch of Season 3 of the Ramy show on Hulu, I could finally reveal that Dr. Abou El Fadl and I actually were invited to take part in the Aftershows portion of the Ramy show! This season, the show's amazing creators and producers decided to film short conversations with people who could discuss some of the issues that were raised in the episodes, and perhaps kick start some conversations that could or perhaps should take place in our community. For us, it was a lot of fun, but for our Muslim community and the world watching Muslims, it was brilliant, as was Season 3 of Ramy as a whole.
We were blessed to meet Ramy and Adel, the dynamic duo responsible for the magic on this show, back in the early days of Usuli in Los Angeles. Adel attended the halaqas and we had no idea who he was or what he did for a living. One day, he asked if his friend Ramy could attend the halaqa. It happened to be the day that I had planned to premiere my one and only attempt at stand-up comedy - I had just come across some terrible stand-up comedy being performed by a handful of Muslim-identifying women that effectively consisted of denigrating Islam. I was so upset by it that I wanted to prove that I could write and perform something funny that did not denigrate Islam. Proving that God has a sense of humor and a kind way of gently reminding me to "stay in my lane," God arranged it that the one day I was going to prove I could do a better job than these other comedians, Ramy Youssef would be there in the audience! Alhamdulillah, Ramy was kind too, and he laughed more and louder than anyone who witnessed my attempt at stand-up, God bless him! :) I think I managed to come up with two stupid jokes and then spent the rest of the time telling funny/painful stories about my convert experience - and have stayed in my lane since! :)
Shortly thereafter, we invited Ramy to have an Usuli conversation with us about his show. Season One had recently dropped and it was controversial and shocking. Shaykh and I previously had only managed to watch the first episode before deciding it was a bit too racy. Cherif had watched the whole thing and told us, "It gets better, you should watch it." Now that Ramy was coming to converse with us, we had to watch the whole season to prepare.
Cherif was right, the season got much better, and the conversation with Ramy was even better. Ramy explained that he wanted to help the community by creating the opportunity to talk about challenges facing Muslims, particularly Muslim youth trying to navigate faith and being faithful in our time and context. Sound familiar? A two-hour plus conversation felt like 10 minutes, but it was deep, funny, and illuminating. You can watch it here:
Season Two of Ramy was even better, and we noticed what we hoped were some Usuli influences: the presence of a dog as an important character, a kind and reasonable Shaykh, even the loving and respectful treatment of a Sufi mosque! Alhamdulillah! Ramy the show's character, seemed to be getting back on track! [That is all I will say - no more spoilers!]
Season Three, in my opinion, is the best season to date for many reasons, not the least of which is the bold and brave treatment of Palestine and issues that no one else will address and tackle head-on. Art has a way of speaking truth without words in such a powerful and penetrating way. There is a lot more to say but I think the show boldly speaks for itself and does its creators and our community proud. In a time when the world thinks the worst of Muslims and Islam, it is a service to God to humanize Muslims and present texture, depth, and complexity to human beings who have otherwise been stripped of their dignity, rights, and personhood. It is a comedy, but this season, there is a certain palpable gravitas. Things are serious. In a world where there is so much pain and suffering often devoid of light, sometimes the darkness is its own call back to the light. Ramy is a show that can bring Muslims - and non-Muslims - together in laughter, humanness, empathy, and understanding - entertainment at its finest when it inspires reflection, introspection, and the potential for growth. I am so proud to have been part of the Aftershows and so grateful to our dear friends Ramy, Adel and crew for allowing us to be a small part of the magic! May Allah bless and reward their efforts and may there be many more seasons to come insha'Allah (God willing)! We had a blast! Here is the episode that I appeared in:
The episode that Shaykh was in should be released on YouTube in the coming week. I will share it next week. :) We had a blast! We got to sit and drink tea and converse for 30-45 minutes, which was edited down to about 8-10 minutes here. Enjoy!
THE "SHARE WITH A FRIEND" CAMPAIGN!!
As a point of clarification, we are willing to send a copy of The Prophet's Pulpit internationally and domestically! The best antidote to Islamophobia is a powerful education, and we are extremely blessed to have a very generous donor come forward to aid us in our mission. This donor was so moved by our new book, The Prophet's Pulpit: Commentaries on the State of Islam, that he has made it his cause to get a copy in the hands of every Muslim who is committed to beauty and justice in Islam.
So, we are pleased to launch our "Share With A Friend" campaign! It is easy - if you have a friend who you feel will benefit from this book (or if you would like a copy for yourself!), send me their name, mailing address and email, and we will send them a free copy with this lovely welcome and introduction card:
So far, the response has been AMAZING!! Keep your requests coming! I believe we are all connected and perhaps one or two degrees of separation from every thinking Muslim that can make a difference. Help us get The Prophet's Pulpit in everyone's hands and elevate our collective knowledge and empowerment! Feel free to write me if you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions.
Also, if you know Muslim journalists, academics, activists, politicians or influencers that would benefit, definitely let me know so we can send them a copy as well! May God bless our collective efforts!
PERPETUAL TRIBUTE TO ALL OF OUR BELOVED DOGGIES
To honor the loving memory of Oso, Baby and all the other beloved dogs we have had the pleasure of sharing life with, I will leave this link here, in hopes that Muslims will one day be at the forefront of loving, caring, and advocating for these most blessed and divine creatures. For more of Dr. Abou El Fadl's writings and views on dogs in the Islamic tradition: https://www.
Looking forward to today's khutbah and the continuation of our engagement with Surah 9: Al Tawbah (Day 3)! May Allah guide us to the best way always! Hope to connect with you online soon insha'Allah (God willing)!
In Peace and Hope,