Repeatedly, in the Qur'an, God alerts us to the human capacity to argue. The word here is jidal, from the root word of jadal. Jadal is to intricately weave something. From that root comes the word mujadilah, to argue. It is not just to argue, in fact, but to argue with persistence. Time and again, God warns us in the Qur’an:
And yet, among men there is many a one who argues about God without having any knowledge [of Him], and follows every rebellious satanic force [Q 22:3]
And yet, among men there is many a one that argues about God without having any knowledge [of Him], without any guidance, and without any light-giving revelation [Q 22:8]
…whereas those who are bent on denying the truth contend [against them with fallacious arguments, so as to render void the truth thereby… [Q 18:56]
Behold, as for those who call God’s messages in question without having any evidence therefore in their hearts is nothing but overweening self-conceit… [Q 40:56]
We are told in Surah al-Hajj (Q 22) that those who argue without knowledge and follow every deviant demon, or those who argue regardless of the haqq, regardless of right and wrong, do not rely on knowledge. They do not rely on God. They do not rely on a revealed book.
This deserves pause and reflection, because argumentation is a uniquely human functionality. The ability to hear, evaluate, reason, judge, and then construct either an affirmation or a rebuttal of what we have heard is a uniquely human functionality. Considering how often the issue of mujadilah has been raised in the Qur'an, one can say, at the very least, that God calls upon us to reflect very carefully upon not just what we argue about, what positions we take, or what positions we defend, but also about the very basis for our argumentation. Put simply, does our system of argumentation rely on the world of Divinity? Do we even attempt to anchor what we argue about on our interpretation of a Divine will, a Divine mandate, and a Divine norm? Or do we allow ourselves to rely on nothing more than the demonic in our lives (Q 22:3)? The scary thought is that the demonic that we follow could, quite simply, be ourselves. God warns us about this repeatedly in the Qur'an. It is as if God is telling us to pay attention to what positions we stake out, what we decide to make a stand on, what we decide to be, and what positions we decide to defend, justify, and legitimate.
In reality, through our sheer willpower, through the very act of living, and through the many choices that we make, every moment of every day, we are constantly affirming, legitimizing, and justifying. We are constantly constructing, even when we are not conscious of it. We are constantly an example to others. We are constantly voting through our actions, decisions, and words. Through our very existence, we are affirming lifestyles, moral choices, and ethical norms, and we are also defeating and delegitimizing ethical norms. Everything we say and do legitimizes and delegitimizes, affirms and denies. So, in this dynamic, God tells us to pay careful attention to what we end up being an argument for or against, either through our words or through our living example.
Through your very existence; your very act of living and your daily choices; through what you choose to consume for breakfast and what you choose to do after breakfast; through every time you turn your computer or phone on; every time you do anything, you are an argument for or against something. You are a legitimation. You are a justification. You are a defense of something or another. It is the simple fact of your existence. You are constantly part of the meta-dynamic that legitimates, constructs, defends, justifies, and reinforces norms and morality in our existence.
Into this, God comes in and says, "When all is said and done, when you look at the totality of your record, you might not have the Hereafter present on your mind all the time. You might not think of the moment of your death as imminent. You might even be heedless toward the inevitability of meeting your Maker. But that does not matter, because when all is said and done, you will meet your Maker, whether you believe it or not, whether you think about it or not, and whether you are conscious of it or not. And you will then confront something that is truly stunning. What type of argument were you for or against? What did your life represent? What did you embody through your choices? What were the words you uttered in your life? What were the conversations you had in your life? What were the actions committed in your life?” All of that will be a mujadalah, an argument.
Indeed, at the meta-level, we can say that our lives represent a grand argument for or against. “I lived serving X country.” “I lived serving X people.” But what this meta argument consists of are numerous micro-arguments that we either have made through speech or through action. Your life is an argument consisting of numerous mini arguments, and God confronts you with the question that the Qur'an confronts you with: On what basis? What was your frame of reference? What ultimately was deemed to be authoritative and to hold sway with you? To what extent and how often was God what you ended up deferring to? There is no obfuscation, tricks, excuses, or lies in the Hereafter. To what extent was God a figure in your life? Was God a central figure, a marginal figure, or not a figure at all? To what extent did God play a role in the numerous micro level arguments that constitute the meta argument that represents your life? To what extent did you have an impulse, did you have a craving, or were you driven by desire?
Because you engaged God, it made all the difference. How often did you engage God? Was it all the time, 50% of the time, 20% of the time, 10% of the time, 1% of the time or not at all? To what extent were you, in truth, deferring to a shaitan, to a demon or demons? In the Hereafter you will get to meet the demons that accompanied you in your life. In the Hereafter, these demons will say, "Hello, guess what? I am so-and-so, and I have accompanied you throughout your life. Meet your posse. Meet your clan of demons. Meet the demons that were there, that know your sins from the time that you reached maturity all the way to your death.” You will meet them because God repeatedly tells us that these very demons will insist that they should not be held responsible for your misdeeds and for the way that you have messed up. They will say, “We were just whispering, but it was he or she that made the decisions.”
But even worse is if God tells us to meet our demons and we discover that that demon was none other than us. God says [00:27:08], “follow every deviant demon.” How terrifying is it, if when all is said and done, you actually follow God very little in the course of the arguments that your life represents, and it turns out that you were not a person who was accompanied by real, living demons from the ethereal world of many dimensions, but you yourself became a demon. You became a shaitan, and all you needed was to listen to your own shaitan. Then when you say, auzubillah minashaitan nirajeem, “God, protect me from the accursed shaitan,” it has a very different meaning, does it not?
Because that accursed shaitan that you may be calling God to protect you from could be none other than yourself. Does Satan and his clan touch every evil, erroneous, misguided human being on earth? No, there are plenty of human beings who become [00:29:08], human demons, with little or no intervention by material demons. Material demons are not carbon based beings. Yes, they are very much real in every sense we are, but we make the mistake when we think that Satan has time for all of us. Your demon could be none other than yourself. The argument, the [00:30:09], the [00:30:10], is truly a terrifying concept.
In my life, I had numerous opportunities to weave God into my consciousness and into my decision making. I have had this opportunity year after year as I enjoyed health, wellbeing, and choice. Then it turns out, when all is said and done, there have been many times when my nafs has alerted me to what is right and moral. Time after time, I argued with this nafs, and I defeated it, vanquished it and silenced it. I deferred to a demon, whether that demon is external to who I am or is, in reality, me; but I deferred to a demon time after time. Then God comes in the Hereafter and says, "What was your normative position? What did your life represent as a series of arguments with the self?" Then you actually get to see all the moments when the right course of action came to your mind like a light bulb, yet you turned this light bulb off and said, "Sit aside, I do not want to listen to you."
It is impossible that we, as Muslims, would collectively be in the position we are in in the world without it being that the arguments that our lives represented time after time, for one person after another, were not arguments of losers. A loser can never be God. It is impossible because it is contrary to the very notion of justice that the lives that Muslims lived and that the [00:34:12], the arguments that they represented through their lives were not grossly erroneous and immoral. The proof is in the reality so I hardly need to give examples, but because it is our methodology, let us go with it for a bit more. At the time that there are plenty of Muslims, even if God gives them the opportunity to engage in Islamic work, the way that they engage in this Islamic work is by thinking, “what am I getting out of it? Am I getting enough attention? Am I getting enough praise? Are people fawning over me? Am I being inconvenienced? Is my life being disrupted? Do I need to modify my sense of entitlement?”
At the same time, I just read an article about a phenomenon that I have talked about before, that is the trafficking of Syrian refugees. Syrian Muslim women with their hijab are among the highest trafficked human beings on the face of the earth. Why? Because a lot of these women, although they are Muslim and Arab, are fair-skinned. Some of them are even blue-eyed. and Human traffickers value fair-skinned children and women, especially if they are blonde and have blue eyes, as they have a higher market value. Then I read in this article how Syrian babies are being abandoned at mosques, hospitals, or even just parks. So many Syrian women have been raped and continue to be sexually abused, that they abandon their babies. It is becoming so serious that even the United Nations has taken note of it, and yet I encounter so many Syrian families who have not let this news make a dent in their lifestyle. It has not made a dent in their sense of entitlement. It has not made a dent in how much they spend on themselves and their luxuries. But if you were to say anything, then you are a fanatic and a troublemaker.
I can say the same thing about Palestinians, or the Egyptians. I can go on. It does not matter what the nationality is, what matters is the argument that you embody through your living example. Are you following God or a demon? In the very world we live in, a report has emerged that details that the United States in its post 9/11 wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, and through its military activities in Yemen, Somalia, and Syria, is responsible for 4.5 million fatalities. The US lost 7,000 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and 8,000 more military contractors, but it took 4.5 million lives, all of them Muslim. Do you see any evidence that the world cares?
France, during its occupation of Algeria, killed seven million Muslims. Do you see the world reacting to that number of seven million Muslims killed by France any way close to the way the world reacts to the six million Jews killed by Germany? Your life is a testament. Your life is an argument, and it is impossible that we would get results like this if enough of us lived the type of life that God called upon us to live.
I have more evidence, I could go on forever. South Africa just announced that it might be leaving the League of Nations that support the international criminal court. You may ask yourself what the big deal is, but in actuality, it is a very big deal. South Africa was one of the nations that was most enthusiastic and active in creating the international criminal court. South Africa dreamt of a new chapter for humanity, where there is an international court that holds those who commit crimes against humanity equally responsible. But what South Africa has said, as it is now contemplating withdrawing from the international criminal court, is truly damning.
South Africa has pointed to the reality that the international criminal court filed charges against 52 people, all of them either being from Africa or Muslim. The international criminal court, when it came to investigating war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan said, "We will only investigate crimes committed by Taliban and by ISIS.” In other words, they will only investigate crimes committed by the Muslim side, but they will not investigate crimes committed by the Americans, the British or the French. The international criminal court is a thoroughly racist institution, and apparently a thoroughly Islamophobic institution. When the international criminal court dared to even raise the question of investigating war crimes committed by United States forces, the US was so effective in shutting the investigation down that the prosecutor who simply raised the issue of investigating war crimes committed by the US, and was not even successful in bringing charges, had his assets frozen by the US, and became a persona non grata in the US and Europe.
Despite evidence of France committing war crimes in Mali, of Americans committing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and killing plenty of Muslims, despite the horrendous record of war crimes committed by Britain in Afghanistan and Iraq… crimes of rape, murder, and torture, in which all the victims are Muslims; in the history of the international criminal court, they have never investigated anyone from a western country or Israel. The only non dark-skinned people they investigated were the Russians.
South Africa is saying they are tired of this immorality, and that is why they are leaving. Where are Muslims? Nowhere. Is this even a part of the Muslim consciousness? I assure you, it is not. What are Muslims worrying about? What is their life testifying to? That women wear the veil. That we do not want “woke” culture. That Islam did not prohibit slavery, but when it comes to other issues, that is where we make a stand. Even the institutions of international law persecute Muslims! Where are you, Muslims? Nowhere. Muslim women are being trafficked and sold into sexual slavery. Where are you? Nowhere. Muslim babies are being abandoned, trafficked and sold into slavery. Where are you? Nowhere. Nowhere, nowhere, nowhere. Where are you? We have to spend thousands of dollars celebrating a wedding. We have to spend thousands of dollars to get an electric car. Our biggest issue is to get followers on Instagram, or to condemn “woke” culture.
I hope most of you have heard of the violence that broke out between the two armed units of the Sudanese army. The Sudanese people took to the streets dreaming of freedom, liberty, democracy, and justice. They wanted to oust the military from power and wanted a Muslim democracy. What happened with the Sudanese people is that they found the entire world marshal behind the Sudanese military. They found Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and even the United States all marshall behind the Sudanese military.
The thing about the Sudanese military is there is the Sudanese army, but during the Sudanese Civil War—whether the Civil War was what is now South Sudan or the Civil War was a district called Darfur—the Sudanese army created a military unit out of the bounds of law. The very purpose of this military unit was to commit atrocities against the Sudanese people, to do the dirty work that the Sudanese army could not do or was not willing to do. That military unit committed numerous atrocities and war crimes, whether in Darfur or in South Sudan. Of course, we learned that Israel was arming the South Sudanese, so Israel was involved in the Civil War in Sudan all along. Israel wants to have allies along the African coast so they can have access to African minerals and numerous other geopolitical advantages.
After South Sudan split off and became an independent country, when the Sudanese people rebelled against the military ruler in power in Sudan and overthrew him, Yemen, Saudi, Egypt and Israel all supported the Sudanese military so that the Sudanese military would not allow the Sudanese civilians to build another democracy in the Muslim world. The Sudanese military effectively suffocated and prevented civilians, as was done in Egypt and Tunisia, from having any type of civil government or democracy.
But there was a fight within the Sudanese military. The Sudanese army told the [00:54:25] that was created to fight in Darfur, the same one that committed all these atrocities, “We do not need you anymore, we are in charge here. Within 10 years, you need to dissolve yourself and become a part of us so that Sudan will have only one army.” But the war criminal who leads the [00:55:02] is a man who has given the west all types of assurances, including that he will destroy and exterminate Islamists, and that he will neutralize and exterminate any Africans that try to pass through Sudan to immigrate to Europe. A man who is willing to get into bed with the Israelis and essentially welcome the Israelis with open arms. A man who even removed a reference to Jerusalem from the logo of his military. This man told [00:55:50], the head of the regular Sudanese army, "No way, we are not dissolving ourselves,” and that is why the fighting broke out.
As the fighting broke out, 840,000 Sudanese were displaced. 5,000 Sudanese arrive at the Egyptian border every day only to find their fellow Muslims treating them as lesser than animals, only to find their Egyptian brethren acting in a racist, derogatory and demeaning manner. Like in Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, and Syria, all the Muslim people dreamt of was democracy, yet what they got is severe punishment for daring to dream of democracy. Violence and more violence, abuse, and subordination; everything in the world saying Muslims do not deserve to live in dignity. That we Muslims do not deserve to live in liberty. How many of the religious leaders of Islam even thought about this issue? How many of the religious leaders of Islam talk about the racism that the displaced Sudanese are confronting?
How many of you care? How many of your arguments within your lives testified that, God, we know that we have an affirmative duty at a very minimum to testify even within our inner feelings? How many of you have even attempted to find out what venues are there to help your fellow Muslim brothers and sisters? It is impossible that the state of the Muslim world would be the way it is if the arguments that our lives represented were more moral or more ethical because God is just, and God will not allow good people who lived good lives to suffer this level of misery and injustice. It is not possible. But do not look at others, look within. Your job is not to stand there and say, "Yes, I know X, Y and Z, who do listen to their demons.” Forget about X, Y, and Z. Look at yourself. What argument does your life stand for? You, in fact, listen to demons. Is this demon yourself and nothing but yourself?
Again, Saudi Arabia has executed two nice looking kids. Of course, they are from the Shi'a minority in Saudi Arabia. They were accused of terrorism, and their trial was a secret. This is the same Saudi Arabia that executed 80-something people in one day. Human rights organizations noted that all these people were tortured. These nice kids were tortured and forced to sign confessions in secret. Their trial was a secret. Their sentence was a secret. Their execution was a secret. Where are the Muslim religious leaders? No one cares because these kids are Shi'a. All the Sunni Imams will not say a word because the victims are Shi'a. A grand Imam, a Shi'a Imam in Bahrain named Shaykh Mohammad Sanqour, dared to deliver a khutbah in which he objected to the horrendous treatment of political prisoners in Bahrain. Immediately, he was made to disappear.
The imams that you listen to, the shayukh that represent the Muslim community, your own selves that you listen to, yourself, your own imam, your own shaykh; do you make it a point to live a life that would end, or that would even help to end in any way, the demonic travesty that represent Muslim lives, even in something as simple as voting in the political process? Or do you simply care about your career, image, and enjoyment? What argument do you stand for?
In City University of New York School of Law, the law student chosen by her class to speak in the commencement graduation ceremony was a young law student named Fatima Mohammed. In her commencement speech, Mohammed spoke about the plight of the Palestinian people. This is not the first time that this has happened in a law school; that a Muslim excels at the top of their class, is chosen by their class to speak, and then chooses to take the opportunity to say that the way that Palestinians are dealt with within the world is shameful and horrendous. Of course, almost immediately, organizations started calling the speech anti-Semitic. Of course, the student did not say anything about Jewish people and strictly limited what she talked about to the plight of the Palestinian people and to the Israeli treatment of Palestinian people.
Although the Jewish Law Students Association in the law school supported Mohammed and issued a statement saying, "It is disingenuous to characterize these factual descriptions as anti-Semitic when they describe the conditions of Palestinian life," the law school promptly removed the student's commencement speech from its websites. It is censorship of the first order. We have grown so accustomed in our lives as Muslims to watching this duplicity, this hypocrisy, and the double standards. While speech that is critical of Israel is promptly censored by even the most educated in society, it is Muslims who are constantly being accused of not understanding the values of freedom of speech. How many conferences and talking heads have you heard go on and on about how in Islam, Muslims do not have an understanding of freedom of speech? That it is not a value in Islam?
At the same time that this occurred, the White House released a plan to combat the rise of anti-Semitism. The good news is that Biden's plan to combat the rise of anti-Semitism did not adopt the Holocaust Museum’s definition of anti-Semitism, which equates any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. The bad news is that, although not adopting that definition, the Biden administration said that they fully embrace the report of the Holocaust Museum, meaning that although they do not want to adopt their definition of anti-Semitism, the Biden administration fully supports their positions. It is commendable that the Biden administration created a plan to fight anti-Semitism, but I would have loved to see the Biden administration also create a plan nearly as ambitious to fight systemic racism in the United States. To discuss the issue of reparations for black Americans, for the legacy of slavery, to discuss reparations and amends to Native Americans for a history filled with genocide and extermination, or to address the continuous erosion of Native American rights and the stealing of Native American lands.
Leave alone to discuss and combat Islamophobia, and especially Islamophobia in law enforcement, including the reliance of the FBI on Islamophobes in anti-terrorism training. But why does the Biden administration create a plan to combat anti-Semitism? Because the lives that so many Jewish kids lead, the argument that their lives represent, is an argument for their people. Right or wrong, it is for their people. The way that they are raised by their parents is to believe that they are nothing unless they care about their people. They are nothing unless they help and serve their people. Meanwhile, Muslims are raised to prioritize getting a job, starting a career, finding a good husband or wife, and maybe donate whenever they can. There is a very important book that came out. It is my prayer that, for once, Muslims will stop being losers and rush to buy this book, even if it is just to support the author and nothing else. Even if you will take the book and just put it to the side, even if it is just to support a man of principle, a man who has made his life an argument for something.
The least you can do, if you cannot be this man, is support the man. The man is Antony Loewenstein. As one could tell from his name, he is Jewish. He wrote a truly remarkable book called the Palestine Laboratory, and in the book, he shows that what Israel has done vis-a-vis Palestinians is to truly run a massive experiment on how to subordinate, control and dominate people. He shows that it is an entirely racist project, but here is the thing: It is done for profit. That when Israel demonstrates how to control Palestinians in Gaza, how to subordinate Palestinians in the West Bank, how to steal their lands, how to lock them up, how to isolate them, Israel is actually advertising its technology and its expertise. Then Israel, as the book discusses, goes on to actually sell its products and expertise.
He shows that every time after there was an attack on Gaza, Israel demonstrates technologies and methodologies. That Israel, for instance, now is the country that trains law enforcement forces in the United States and all over Europe in anti-terrorism "tactics", but that Israel needs an enormous amount of money. He shows the corruption of money in the racialization and subjugation of Palestinians. He shows that there are Israelis who are becoming multimillionaires and even billionaires just by showing their skills at controlling Arab herds like animals. That it is not only that among Israel's biggest clients are the worst dictators, authoritarians, and despots in the world. That the worst despots, including in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, in every horrible African or South American government, or any dictatorship anywhere, goes to Israel and pays tons of money for the technology to dominate, subjugate and treat Palestinians like animals.
It is a mind blowing book. This man's life, his argument, with the self produced this book. This is what his life is going to stand for. And being a Jewish person, I am sure he is going to get it from every other way from his own people, but he is a man of conscience, a man of scholarship, a man of truth, and a man of seriousness. Can he count on we Muslims to even just buy his book? It bewilders me how many Muslims have heard all of this not for one week, not for one month, but for months and years, and yet when it comes to making decisions, the only motivation on their mind is their own demon. “What makes me happy? What maximizes my utilities?” Nothing else, nothing more. [01:18:54] You do not guide those who you love. Only God guides whoever God wishes.