Greetings of Peace (al salamu 'alaykum) dear Friends,
We are in a defining moment, not just as Muslims, but humanity at large. A "textbook genocide" is unfolding before our eyes and to me, it is no exaggeration to say that where you fall on the issue of bombing caged human beings while denying them food, water, electricity, and a means of escape, says everything about you. In this last week, it is truly shocking and mind-numbing to witness so many human beings righteously justifying the gleeful extermination of Palestinians. With yesterday's evil bombing of the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza that left over 800 Palestinians dead, it feels as if we are at a turning point.
For those of us living in America, there are no words to fully capture the disgust, outrage, and sense of injustice as we watch our leaders unequivocally support this genocide and fund it with our taxpayer dollars. What can we do? Get busy, get active, and do whatever is within our individual means and ability.
I know it is difficult. It is hard to concentrate. The news is debilitating. There is a visceral heaviness and sense of mourning that has accompanied me everywhere. People write to ask what they can do to help. There is a collective sense of helplessness that permeates everything. Remember, God is watching and God sees everything. It matters what each and every one of us does. Every little bit helps.
First and foremost, education. Dr. Abou El Fadl's khutbah on 13 October titled, "The Truth About Palestine and Why I Will Testify Against You If..." was in a class by itself - it captured it all. Next week, we will provide the edited transcript, but if you have the chance to watch it before then, it was cathartic and healing. Shayan powerfully exercised his right as the muezzin (person who makes the call to prayer) of the space to sound the alarm of crisis before his adhan (call to prayer).
Then once again, I am so grateful that we had the tremendous opportunity to gain more special insight with Jana al-Akhras and Shayan Parsai in a second Real Talk conversation with Dr. Abou El Fadl, as they shared precious pictures and video from their trip to Palestine this past summer. Most stunning was their footage of Al Aqsa Mosque on the one day of the year that the Israeli's allow access to parts of the mosque that are closed to Muslims the other 355 days of the year.
Our apologies that the edited version is not up yet. We are still cutting the final video, adding in the slides and videos, and will circulate the final version as soon as it is ready. It is a very important testimony that should stand the test of time, so we want to do a good job. In the meantime, the livestream version continues to be readily available here:
At the same time, I have been channeling my righteous anger and anxious energy into circulating as much video testimony from Gaza as I can on social media, and also sending everything I find to First Lady Jill Biden at @flotus on Instagram. Will it make a difference? I have no idea. But on the first day, I sent videos to her at both of her Instagram pages: @DrBiden and @flotus. I sent so many that the next day, I found that I could no longer send videos to @DrBiden because she had not accepted my invitation to connect. I hope that at a minimum, I am annoying whoever is checking her Instagram.
I have also been working on creating a new presence on Substack.com, a platform for writers, journalists, and independent voices that are looking for alternatives spaces that are NOT subject to the control and censorship of algorithms, and where they can make a living, especially if they have been pushed out by mainstream media. Superstars like Chris Hedges, Norm Finkelstein, and many others have moved their writing to Substack.
Alhamdulillah, I launched my Substack this past week titled, In grace and song: Love Letters to God from an unlikely Muslim convert. Check it out and subscribe for free! It is intended to be a place where I can expand my writing as well as hopefully expand to other audiences that might be searching for writings about beautiful Islam. So far, I have published four new pieces (lots of anxious energy to channel!): 1) "An Introduction"; 2) "God, I am a coward"; 3) "What is a 'Feisty'?"; and 4) "Feisty No. 1" as well as some writing on Why This, Why Now? in the About section. I will also share previous pieces from this space so that it can be an archive for some of my favorite pieces. I would love to know what you think.
I have also been encouraging everyone I can to create their own Substack presence and share their writings. This is one very important way that we can collectively try to fight back against the Islamophobic AI of the internet with every beautiful voice we add. I am thrilled that our own superstar, Wietske Merison, also just launched a beautiful presence on Substack called "Gift from the Heavens: Musings of a Muslim Birder." It is divine, especially her piece this week on "The Palestine Sunbird."
In my Substack journey, I have happened upon new voices that are not Muslim, yet who speak the truth. In times like these, when it feels like the world has abandoned all reason and humanity, such voices are like a lifeline to sanity. Check out Caitlin Johnstone, Useful Idiots, Discourse Blog, and of course, Chris Hedges and Norm Finkelstein. Also, our dear friend Ross, who manages the WordPress site of links to resources at www.UsuliNews.org has just created a Palestine Resources Page here. Please feel free to share any resources you would like Ross to add by emailing me and I will forward them on.
We will be gathering again virtually this Saturday, 21 October at 6 pm Eastern. Honestly, we don't know yet what we plan to do. Let us see what the coming days bring.
In the meantime, let us pray for peace for all, forgiveness for all, and mercy for all. May God give us strength and patience, and empower us to take whatever action is within our means to bring light, love, education, and comfort to others in these very difficult times. May God guide us to the best path always. Ameen.
In Peace and Hope,