Where is the Love? Where is the Justice? Where is the Ihsan?

Dear Friends,

Greetings of Peace (al salamu 'alaykum)! I pray you are well!

Coming off of last week's incredible new content additions which you can now find on the homepage of our website at www.usuli.org, this week kicked off with an amazing conversation between the powerhouse scholar and defender of justice, Professor Aminah Al-Deen and Dr. Abou El Fadl! In it, we had the opportunity to hear Shaykh talk about the driving forces behind several of his books, including The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the BooksThe Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the ExtremistsReasoning with God: Reclaiming Shari'ah in the Modern Age; and of course, The Prophet's Pulpit: Commentaries on the State of Islam, Volume I, as well as the work at The Usuli Institute. It is a fabulous conversation between two of our most eminent scholars today,and a MUST-WATCH!
Countdown to Ramadan - 11 days! I am thinking about what project(s) to focus on during the month. Getting those Ramadan butterflies in my stomach as I start to anticipate what I can do to serve, what I need to focus on to improve myself, and how I can make this sacred time count. We have been learning about sacred space and sacred time in the Project Illumine halaqas. For those who want to start planning their education consumption for Ramadan, to learn about what the Qur'an has to say about sacred time and sacred space, I would highly recommend starting with Surah 22: Al Hajj, which was a four-day engagement (including Q&A!). You can find it here:
It is mind-blowing to look back and see how much ground we have covered in the past two and a half years. Here is the Quick Links page to ALL of our Usuli Halaqas, including all of the Project Illumine Qur'anic commentaries (tafsir) here:

To date, we have completed 101 Surahs over 161 Project Illumine halaqa sessions, for a combined total of 194 halaqas since starting Usuli in 2017! This will more than populate your must-watch education list for Ramadan!

And of course, I cannot pass up the reminder to populate your Ramadan music playlist with the beautiful music album: WITNESS by Wietske Merison's, sponsored by Usuli!
Nor shamelessly plug our fascinating conversation: USULI CONVERSATION: WIETSKE AND GRACE - ON WITNESS by Wietske Merison! Wietske and I dig deep into talking about her music, the story behind the music, the process, and most importantly, the Divine influence and inspiration that goes into her songs! We recorded this two-hour conversation the day after we finished the professional recording of her album. Wietske is brilliant, wise, deeply-reflective, humble, and so wise. No kidding, the conversation itself was an incredible education and religious experience in all the best ways! Check it out!
And if you haven't made the time to listen to this incredible podcast, put this at the top of your Ramadan playlist! THE BEST INTERVIEW EVER! Momodou Taal interviews Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl!
This is truly one of the best interviews I have heard the Shaykh give for our time and where we are in today's world as Muslims. Shaykh's words are like the breath of fresh air - the insight, the expertise, the medicine, the wisdom, and the comfort that we all need right now. Momodou is a brilliant interlocutor, and the two together are epic, as one friend described! Shaykh covers all of the topics of our day in a profoundly insightful way - everything from racism to colonialism, feminism to LGBTQ, to why Muslims today like to align with the right-wing. He talks about what we have been doing at Usuli and how his Qur'anic commentary (Project Illumine tafsir) is unique in its own right. He covers A LOT of ground. It is a VERY satisfying conversation, and a MUST LISTEN!


PROJECT ILLUMINE II: THE LIGHT OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD: "Decolonizing the Sirah in the Age of Islamophobia: A Master Class"
We have been planning for our next engagement as we are nearing the completion of the halaqas for PROJECT ILLUMINE: LIGHT OF THE QUR'AN, the first complete and original direct-to-English language Qur'anic commentary (tafsir) in over 40 years. To be clear, the Qur'anic commentary online classes will conclude, but then it will shift gears to become a full-time publishing project - it will be a full-force effort to transform the last two and a half years of halaqas into a legacy multi-volume book! Exciting!

What will we turn our attention to in our halaqa sessions? I hope and pray, as I have been alluding to for some time, that we will be able to achieve our aim of journeying deep into the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with Dr. Abou El Fadl, experiencing his lifetime journey with the hadith literature (reports about the life of the Prophet), just as we did with the tafsir. In order to make that dream come true, as all non-profit organizations must, we need to raise the funds to be able to do this project right. The good news is that this project has now officially taken shape and become a potential reality - and the contours and details of it are truly phenomenal! The challenge before us now is to raise the funds to bring the baby to term! So to help in the "birthing" process, I am so excited to launch our LaunchGood page for PROJECT ILLUMINE II: LIGHT OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD! We have titled the engagement, "Decolonizing the Sirah in the Age of Islamophobia: A Master Class," to convey the absolute importance of this project - as Dr. Abou El Fadl has demonstrated time and again in the Qur'anic commentaries, Muslims do not own their own history nor their own narratives. What we know of our tradition is largely seen through a colonial filter. To get at the truth and beauty of our tradition, we must re-examine, relearn and re-engage the hadith literature anew. Dr. Abou El Fadl dedicated his life to engaging this tradition as only a scholar could, working to satisfy his own questions. Now we have the opportunity to receive this precious understanding of the life of the Prophet. How can we allow this opportunity to pass? 

Dr. Abou El Fadl was focused on the intimate history of a great man - who the Prophet was as a person, why he was endearing to those around him, and how he lived, loved, prayed, and worshipped. This is not a review of the institutional history of the Prophet's life, or a chronology of the battles he fought or the treaties he signed. Similar to a previous 8-session halaqa he did entitled, "Humanistic Approaches to the Life of the Prophet," back in the late 1990s/2000s, it is an unprecedented, humanistic “first-hand meeting” with the Prophet based on Dr. Abou El Fadl’s extensive review of original Arabic texts. However, this master class engagement will include the 20+ years of additional research he has done since then!

Consider this tantalizing quote by Dr. Abou El Fadl:

“In researching the entire corpus of hadith traditions, it becomes apparent that so many of the reports about the Prophet Muhammad were built upon or shrouded by medieval mythologies. Yet, in the midst of this immense accumulation, there are reports that have all the earmarks of telling us a testimony - someone actually testifies to something real. And when you take all these things that testify to what is real, what emerges is a picture of who this man was and why what he did was so great. People think you can just open a book of hadith and just read it. You can’t do that. You are dealing with texts that were written hundreds of years ago by people whose outlook and understanding of their reality was very different. You have to take all of that into account when getting to the heart of who the Prophet was as a human being and why those around him loved him so dearly, which is what I was seeking to understand…”

Do you want to see this knowledge come to light? Help us! We also have the blessing of a most generous donor who will match all donations dollar for dollar up to $50K! God bless and elevate their family! 

We need to raise $185,000 by June 30, 2023 to secure one semester of weekly virtual halaqas that will run from January to June 2024. If we can raise another $185,000 by December 31, 2023, then we can secure a second semester of weekly virtual halaqas that will run from July to December 2024. This will be a subscription-only halaqa, with subscriptions for each semester costing $600 for the semester ($100 per month)/$500 if you subscribe BEFORE June 30, 2023. More details will be available on our www.usuli.org website next week, God willing (insha'Allah)! 


PROJECT ILLUMINE TONIGHT at 7 PM Eastern Time: Surah 100: Al 'Adiyat and Surah 101: Al Qari'ah! 
These short surahs are incredible and I cannot wait!! Hope to connect with you online soon insha'Allah (God willing)! May God inspire, empower, and elevate you always!
In Peace and Hope,


The Movement to Reinvigorate Beautiful and Ethical Islam has begun.  Join us.

Your donation to The Institute for Advanced Usuli Studies will help fund important work to combat extremism and ignorance. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity dedicated to research and education to promote humanistically beautiful and morally elevating interpretations of Islam. We seek to support our brightest minds to advance knowledge and to build a community of individuals founded on dignity, respect and love for all of God's creation. See The Usuli Institute Credo for our statement of values. Please give generously to support a beautiful, reasonable and vibrantly human Islam for future generations to come. All donations are tax-deductible and zakat eligible.


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