I apologize for the delay today. We had technical difficulties. The sad reality is that The Usuli Institute, as usual, is underfunded. If we were not underfunded, we would be able to hire a tech person who could take care of these matters every time they pop up. But what can we do? This is the choice of the Ummah. It is not our choice. When an event is delayed because we cannot get it streaming properly or the sound quality is poor, know that it is not the choice of the people who are involved with The Usuli Institute. It is the choice of the Ummah that The Usuli Institute serves. The sad reality is that, as everyone in The Usuli Institute knows, there was a person who could have removed many burdens and helped in so many ways, but the habits, the toxicity, and the lack of ethics of this Ummah made this person renege on promises and go away. This is my first point.
Second, because of the choices of the Ummah, because we are underfunded, and because there were technical difficulties due to our lack of funding, those of you watching the live stream missed the first adhan, an adhan that was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes. May God bless and reward Shayan Parsai, the man with the golden voice, who, after all these years, brought tears to the eyes of a hardened heart with his adhan.
I must start by following up on the previous khutbah, which is among the most viewed Usuli khutbahs in our history. But because this is The Usuli Institute, this does not mean 100,000 or 200,000 views. It means a couple of thousand views. Yet, for whatever it is worth, it was a khutbah with one of the highest rates of engagement, and it raised many issues that I want to unpack in this khutbah.
I really appreciate and was touched by the many people who worried that because I was so upset, I may suffer a heart attack and die. I was very touched by that. Of course, there were people who raised the typical question we always hear: "Yes, your anger is justified. We understand that you are very upset. We are all upset, but we need to know what to do. Help us understand what to do." It is perhaps a fair question, but let us take it step-by-step, analytically, so that we take a good look at ourselves, at our thought processes, and at who we are as a people.
Subhanallah, I had the opportunity to see a short video that was not shown on many mainstream media platforms, so I am not sure how many will have seen it. The video shows a Palestinian fighter who, during battle, receives a bullet in the back, and the Israelis continue shooting at him. As he is on the ground, he does not surrender to death until he puts himself in a sujud position, prostrating before God. He then dies in sujud. It reminded me of when the Prophet Joseph was confronted with an act of clear injustice. Joseph was raised in the household of the Aziz of Egypt, and when the wife of the Aziz soight to seduce him, he refused to surrender to her. The Aziz walked in, and she accused the Prophet Joseph of assaulting her. Although a council held a discussion and reviewed the evidence, and it was concluded that he was innocent and she was guilty, he was still sent to prison. In prison, after he demonstrates his God-given talent to interpret dreams, what does the Prophet Joseph say? He knows he is in prison unjustly. The argument presented by Joseph at this point is stunning, for he says: "Think. Ponder. Is it better to worship the One and Only; or to worship the gods of your own making, the gods of your own invention, the gods of your own fears, the gods of your own anxieties, the gods of your own ego, the gods of your own weakness?" He is in prison because of an injustice, and what he comments on is whether you worship one God or many gods.
What is the relation? The answer is the man in Gaza who stood resisting an unjust, unlawful occupation until he was shot in the back and who did not die until he was able to crawl into the position of sujud. Why? Think. The Prophet Joseph knows that when you worship one God, the matter is clear. Surrendering to injustice, surrendering to tyrants, and surrendering to oppression means surrendering to shirk. It is a form of associating partners with God.
The matter is clear. If you worship one God, although you know the consequences of standing up to injustice will be prison or worse, then your path is clear. But the Muslim Ummah no longer worships one God, and that is precisely the problem. The Muslim Ummah worships tradition. The Muslim Ummah worship themselves. The Muslim Ummah worships material wealth. The Muslim Ummah worships careers. The Muslim Ummah worships showing off and public appearance. The Muslim Ummah worships pietistic affectations. The Muslim Ummah worships pretend plays. The Muslim Ummah worships all types of things but God, because if they worshiped God, the course of their life and their moral choices would be abundantly clear.
In the midst of the horror of Gaza, the so-called “Custodians of the Two Holy Sites”—who are, in reality, the “Occupiers of the Two Holy Sites,” an authority that colonizes the Holy Sites on behalf of the West—would not cancel their entertainment program. What many of you do not know is that Arab artists, including Egyptians, told Saudi Arabia that they cannot possibly come to sing and dance when the slaughter is happening in Gaza. “We do not want to embarrass you. We do not mean anything by it, but please understand, we cannot do it. Please, we will come next year, but not this time." In response, Saudi Arabia was brutal in punishing all these artists. It even reached the point that the “Occupiers of the Two Holy Sites” had the Egyptian authorities teach some of them a lesson. No dignity. “How dare you have an opinion? How dare you take that position?” These are facts, and everyone knows it.
Compare this to the position of the Christian Church when it canceled its Christmas festivities. We all know what Christmas festivities mean to the Christian Church in Palestine and all over the world. I was extremely embarrassed as I witnessed churches, all over the world, cancel their festivities because of what is happening in Gaza. Yet how many Muslims, as a result of the actions of the so-called “Custodian of the Two Holy Sites,” decided not to partake in ‘umrah or hajj anymore? How many?
Just recently, South Africa filed a thorough, well-documented, and well-written complaint against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Israel of committing a genocide under the Genocide Convention. Not a single Muslim country did the same. There have been filings, though not as remarkable as what South Africa did, by South American countries. Compare this to the passivity and inaction of Muslim nations. But how many Muslims have decided to take a resolute stand against the colonizers of the Two Holy Sites, against the UAE, or against Sisi of Egypt? Despite last week’s “remarkable, fiery khutbah,” some of those who asked me, "Well, tell us what to do," are members of the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC), the same center that banned me for speaking the truth about Sisi. The least they can do, in response to the khutbah, is resign from the ICSC. The least they can do is go to this establishment and say, "We will not stand for this anymore." Do you worship one God, or do you worship all the nonsense like your egos, your image, your little games, and your theater plays? This is what I am talking about.
After this fiery khutbah, Hamza Yusuf gave a talk at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) conference at Toronto. His talk was the usual nonsense. Not a stand for justice. Not a position for morality and ethics, but compromise. "Well, sometimes in history you have to suffer injustice silently. I am sure it will not last forever." He did not say it, but it was implied: "The end of times will come, and then God will take care of it." In response, people started jeering, demanding that he leaves the podium. What did the conference organizers do in response? "Brothers and sisters, please respect the Shaykh. Do not forget you have to respect the Shaykh." Immediately, the conference organizers started editing his miserable, embarrassing lecture so that you can only listen to little clips here and there. You cannot even view the whole thing unless you know someone who was present and filming it.
But what is the problem? The problem is that Zaytuna College did not happen overnight. It is a phenomenon. Millions of dollars were wasted by vanilla people on Zaytuna, on Bayan, on these little playthings, on these theater organizations where pretend people come to do pretend things so that we can feel successful and effective.
What, then, was my khutbah saying? For those who want practical things, listen to what I said carefully. If we were an educated people, we could have compared line by line, theme by theme, that what Nazi propaganda said about butchering Jews is identical to what the Israelis are saying about Palestinians, even down to the recent New York Times article that talked about “verified sources” confirming that Hamas raped women and cut off their breasts. We could have shown that comparison to the world.
How many of you listened to the khutbah? How many of you even made the serious determination that you are going to learn Hebrew? Or that you are going to learn German? How many of you made the resolution? Okay, maybe you do not have time to do it. Maybe you are not talented in language. But are you going to pay The Usuli Institute enough, because they know who are the experts out there who can get this done? How many of you decided, “Okay, I am going to fund them so that they will have enough money to hire not just a tech person, but to fund scholars and give fellowships to graduate students and poor Muslim students who finish their doctorates and cannot find jobs”? How many of you decided, “We are going to give them enough money so that they can hire a team of scholars-in-residence who basically have tenure in The Usuli Institute”? How many of you decided, after this khutbah, and after asking, "What do we do?", that you are quitting the ICSC forever? How many of you decided to quit Zaytuna forever? How many of you decided to take a resolute stand about the colonizers of the Two Holy Sites? How many? I could keep going.
The problem is not whether or not I have a heart attack. Who cares? The world loses nothing if Khaled Abou El Fadl drops dead. That is not the issue. The issue is that you understand that it is not just about feeling bad. Listen to what I am saying. How many of you decided that you are going to graduate top of your class in law school, that you are going to do fellowships with the ICJ, and that you are going to be so stellar that when the time comes, you can actually help draft something technically impressive?
If 100 Zaytunas were put together for 100 years, they would not be able to draft a criminal complaint like the criminal complaint just filed by South Africa in the ICJ. You are wasting millions of dollars on this and that Shaykh and on pietistic affectations. Neither 100 Zaytunas nor 1,000 Bayans would be able to do what South Africa did. They do not live in the same world. How many of you have made the determination to become a Noura Erakat? I do not care that her hair shows. I do not care that, as some brothers have told me, her cleavage shows. I just do not care. And if you care, shame on you. What matters is the quality of her intellect and what she offers.
The Prophet Joseph tells us to worship the only God and to follow God's cause, because God's cause is justice. In the midst of the daily slaughter, I recently saw an image of mothers with their children. I did not count how many there were, but there were a whole bunch of them. Too many of them. This image was of mothers with their babies and their children, all dead. Some of the babies had their brains actually spilled on the ground. Some of the children were clearly blown to pieces, with arms missing, heads missing, left unrecognizable. In the midst of this misery, a famous Kuwaiti or Saudi group is busy “protecting” the Muslim frontier from the “evil” Shi'a. They claim that while the Ummah is paying attention to what is going on in Gaza, the Shi'a are trying to invade from behind. Do you know what they do to protect the Ummah from the “evil” Shi'a? Although the Qur'an taught them not to spy, they break into the private phones of Shi'a citizens in Kuwait, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia and look through their private phones. They then expose whatever they find to the “Guardian” of the Ummah.
So the Shi'a are our problem? This is what we are fighting? The Shi'a are fighting in Lebanon, the Shi'a are taking a stand in Yemen, and the colonizers of the Two Holy Sites are funding organizations to break into the phones of Shi'a citizens and expose them. How many of you are outraged by this? How many of you are truly outraged by this? How many of you are prepared to learn the truth that the Shi'a do not have a hidden Qur'an? That not all the Shi'a slander or insult ‘Aisha? Honestly, even if they did, I would not care at this point because these butchered mothers and their children are more important. Get it. Understand it. Even if they did, that makes me a pariah? Some of you may decide, "That is it. No more Khaled El Fadl." But I do not care. Honestly, I do not. These popularity games mean nothing to me.
The New York Times has as its front-page story: “Sexual Violence By Hamas, How Hamas Uses Rape”. Now, of course, we saw women who, when they were released by Hamas, these supposed rape victims were blowing kisses and farewells. The syndrome that makes captives fall in love with their captors, Stockholm syndrome, seems to only work one way, however, because it does not work when the captors are Israelis and the captives Palestinian. Palestinian captives emerge from Israeli captivity with bruises, broken bones, and destroyed souls. So, the syndrome only works when the captives are White women and the captors are evil Arabs, guerillas, barbarians. But The New York Times claims, "This is a deep investigation based on reliable sources." You read the story carefully, and they say, "We have seen rape videos that no one else has seen,” including of all the human rights organizations that I work with. I know very well that human rights organizations have not seen these rape videos. Israel could have submitted these rape videos to the International Criminal Court to have the ICC hand down indictments against Hamas members, but they did not. They did not because they do not exist, and The New York Times knows that they do not exist. They say Hamas sliced off the breasts of women. Where are the pictures of these dead women with sliced-off breasts? Again, Amnesty International did not see the pictures. Human Rights Watch did not see the pictures. The International Court of Justice did not see the pictures. No one has seen the pictures. But The New York Times told us they have seen the pictures. Subhanallah. Human Rights Watch funds an army of full-time investigators bigger than The New York Times’ group of investigators, and they still cannot get access to what The New York Times has. The New York Times tells us they have “reliable sources.”
When you read the story carefully, you discover the “reliable source” is an Israeli woman who was not a rape victim herself, but she claims that actual rape victims told her that this is what happened to them. If you read the story carefully, none of the allegations are actually made by an actual rape victim. Wow. What impeccable journalistic standards.
If people would have listened carefully to my khutbah, they would understand that 1,000 Bayans and 1,000 Zaytunas are not going to be able to respond to, or even make a dent in, something like The New York Times article. They would understand that a single Rashid Khalidi has more power in his pen than the entire Zaytuna College put together. How much did it cost to create a Rashid Khalidi? How much did it cost to create Noura Erakat?
But here is the real doozy. All the money that went into creating a Rashid Khalidi and Noura Erakat was not Muslim money. I am certain that most, if not all, the money came from the fellowships that created and developed these scholars was donated by Jews. So does this tell you what the khutbah is about? Does this finally explain everything? I am talking about Muslim capital. I am talking about Muslim ignorance. I am talking about not just capital, in fact, but about how the average Muslim decides their sense of priorities and sets their standards; what they expect of themselves, of their children, of their friends, and of their organizations. Let me be very frank: a Khaled Abou El Fadl will never be invited, not in a million years, to any of the Islamic conferences, not even by people who do not necessarily hate me, like Ummatics.
Why? Maybe Khaled Abou El Fadl is just too ugly? Yes, it is possible. Maybe Khaled Abou El Fadl is just too obnoxious and unpleasant to be around. Maybe Khaled Abou El Fadl is a secret Shi'a, a Mu'tazili, or liberal? But consider the possibility that Khaled Abou El Fadl is just too truthful. Consider the possibility that we are not accustomed to that type of truth in our gatherings and our spaces. This is what I am talking about. But why can they get away with this? It is because of you. Because there are not enough of you demanding that Khaled El Fadl exists in this space. Because there are not enough of you saying, "I will not attend unless you bring people like Khaled El Fadl, people who are truth-speakers." So, to all the people who keep asking me what to do: please listen to the khutbah again. Listen to this khutbah. Think. Be honest with yourself.
My life and death are truly insignificant, so do not worry yourself about whether I am going to have a heart attack. If it happens, Alhamdulillah. If it does not, Alhamdulillah. It is all the same to me, and it should be all the same to you.