In this series, we engage with prominent Muslims navigating in the public sphere and discuss contemporary challenges facing the Muslim community. Find more conversations on our YouTube channel.
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl answers important questions in an honest and transparent conversation addressing sexual and spiritual abuse at the hands of religious authority.
Topics discussed include: secret and temporary marriages; patriarchal systems and the influence in silencing women; moral foundations of Shari’ah verses the law; social and legal culpability of religious authorities; weak hadiths; reporting abuse; the empowerment of women during the time of the Prophet; the re-traumatization of victims; dignity in marriage; responding to Islamophobia that exploits misogyny in our tradition; on engaging with the work of abusers; protecting women in religion settings; and much more.
Recorded as a live Zoom meeting at The Usuli Institute: Part I on 20 March, 2022; Part II on 15 May 2022.
9 May 2021
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl held a special conversation with an honored guest, Dr. Tareq Al-Suwaidan, one of the most influential scholars, thinkers and public intellectuals in the Middle East. Executive Director Grace Song was the moderator. They covered fascinating topics ranging about the prospects of change in the Muslim world, challenges confronting future generations of Muslims, leadership and management of Muslim organizations and much more.
Zoom webinar hosted by The Usuli Institute on 9 May 2021.
Dr Khaled Abou El Fadl and Executive Director Grace Song had the amazing opportunity to engage Lara E (aka @gazangirl on Instagram), an international human rights lawyer and Palestinian-American activist who has been using her considerable social media presence to bring attention to the realities on the ground in Palestine as well as educate a global audience as to the truth behind Zionism and the struggle for rights, liberation and freedom for the Palestinians. Zoom Webinar hosted by The Usuli Institute on 20 May 2021.
A Beautiful Engagement Between Artist and Scholar
14 September 2019
As part of The Usuli Institute Conversation Series, we were honored to host Ramy Youssef in conversation with Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl and Grace Song about the challenges and opportunities for artistic expression in advancing faith, understanding, and the human side of being Muslim. Ramy Youssef is best known for making TV's first Muslim American sitcom, Hulu's millennial comedy series entitled, "Ramy." He also recently released his HBO Original stand-up comedy special entitled, "Feelings." Both shows jump headlong into uncharted on-screen territory when it comes to the challenges confronting Muslim millennials attempting to navigate the grey areas of faith and religion, society and culture, expectation and acceptance, and ultimately, humanity in all of its forms. An honest, raw and fascinating discussion. Hosted at the Usuli Institute, 14 September 2019.
22 June 2019
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl and Dr. Abdullah Alaoudh, son of distinguished Saudi scholar Salman Alaoudh, discuss the background, history and thought of Salman Alaoudh and the reasons why the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), arrested Salman Alaoudh. They discuss the situation of imprisoned scholars who, like Salman Alaoudh, have been subjected to horrific human rights violations as brought to light by such organizations as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others. They delve into the current situation in Saudi Arabia and the priority projects of MBS, and the situation outside Saudi Arabia among exiled Saudi dissidents. They elaborate on often used terms such as "Muslim Brotherhood" and "Political Islam," and unpack the meaning of each and demonstrate how such terms are used for political advantage. They shed light on how the current priorities of MBS dovetail with those of the Crown Prince of the UAE, Egypt, Israel, the U.S. and others, and the implications for Muslims around the world. A deep, poignant and insightful discussion. Hosted by The Usuli Institute, 22 June 2019.
14 April 2019
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl is the featured speaker for the Interfaith Study Group, and discusses the central role of love in the Islamic tradition as understood, imagined, explored, written about and expressed in books of tradition by scholars over the course of Islamic history. He covers the major themes in which theologians understood and discussed love: 1) God's eternally loving nature; 2) Humans as the specific object of God's love; 3) Humans' innate loving nature; and 4) God as the true object of human love. Dr. Abou El Fadl distinguishes between the approaches to understanding the faith from the perspective of a lawyer or jurist versus that of the theologian. He also distinguishes the vast differences in the notions of love; and even understanding Islam as the religion of love and a loving Creator in the premodern versus modern period, which brought with it the austere Wahhabi, and especially Najdi despotic approaches leading to the colonially-driven attempts at the "Arabization" of the Islamic tradition. Dr. Abou El Fadl presents a vast, nuanced and surprising landscape as to Muslim theologian understandings and discussions of love and unification with the divine; and conversely, what it means when rituals of worship are exercised without love and the resulting hypocrisy of faith. Includes Q&A. Delivered at the Islamic Center of Southern California, Los Angeles, 14 April 2019.
3 March 2019
Dr. Abou El Fadl was invited to a meeting of Muslim leadership to address the most pertinent issues confronting the Muslim community in our day and age. He shares his reflections on the impact of racism and Islamophobia in the West, the role of Muslims as "moral pilots", the immigrant versus convert mindset and their potential for leadership for Muslims in the West, how to address concerns regarding the younger generations of Muslims and much more. Includes audience Q&A. Moderated by Salam al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Hosted at the Islamic Center of Southern California, 3 March 2019.
10 November 2018
As part of the Usuli Institute Conversation Series, Professor Nader Hashemi engages Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl in an insightful, timely and refreshingly frank conversation about living in our modern times as an ethical and thinking Muslim in light of the arguments and assertions in Dr. Abou El Fadl's most recent book, Reasoning with God: Reclaiming Shariah in the Modern Age. In delving into major themes of the book, the professors cover current events including the Jamal Khashoggi murder; the current state of the Middle East and the West; the case of Asia Bibi in Pakistan. In the Q&A, they discuss the role and place of converts, the impact and current state of Wahhabism, whether Muslims should boycott Hajj, how young Muslims can gain their confidence and strength to address today's challenges, and much more. Recorded at the Usuli Institute, 10 November 2018.
27 October 2018
The Usuli Institute and the Hub Foundation hold an intimate and personal Q&A with Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl and Muslims in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the introduction, Grace Song, Executive Director of The Usuli Institute, invites the audience to exercise their right to ask any question of their faith, and shares her experience as a convert and the importance of the right to ask difficult questions as a liberating and empowering force in her development as a convert. She invites the audience to consider Islam through the lens of a convert, and its implications and importance for the future of Islam. Dr. Abou El Fadl addresses questions regarding the role, place and treatment of converts and conversion, historically and in the current age; schisms in modern day Islam; honesty in confronting the challenges and the mindset of a "defeated" people; the impact of Islamophobia; understanding the responsibility and weight of knowledge in addressing questions like "the beating verse" and modern day issues; and much more. Moderated by Zachary Markwith, Executive Director of The Hub Foundation. Recorded at Hub925, Pleasanton, CA, 27 October 2018.
26 October 2018
“RELIGIOUS NATIONALISM AND THE AMERICAN-ISRAEL-SAUDI ALLIANCE," An Evening with Chris Hedges, Dr. Noam Chomsky and Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl at the Hub Foundation (hub-foundation.org), Pleasanton, CA. An historic event featuring the top three experts in the fields discussed. Recorded at HUB925 in Pleasanton, CA on 26 October 2018.
27 August 2018
As part of the Usuli Institute Conversation Series, Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl and Maryam Ramadan, daughter of Dr. Tariq Ramadan, discuss the current situation facing the Ramadan family in the wake of accusations of rape against her father.
There has been much speculation and rumor around the Tariq Ramadan affair, and the accusers have been well represented in the media, while most in the U.S. have not had an opportunity to hear directly from Tariq Ramadan’s family. This was a unique opportunity to learn directly from Maryam Ramadan what has been happening around the case; to verify fact versus rumor; and to discuss implications for the Muslim community at large. Recorded at The Usuli Institute 27 August 2018. To read Dr. Abou El Fadl's writings on the Tariq Ramadan Affair, click on the More button below.
21 April 2018
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl engages a private audience on the challenges confronting Muslims and Islam in America, the Islamophobia network, and the what it will take to turn the tide of hatred against Muslims today. He discusses the current intellectual state of Muslims, its educational institutions and what it takes to be an effective Islamic intellectual in modern times--those who have mastered both the Islamic tradition as well as the modern systems of knowledge in a particular context, from philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and much more. Includes Q&A from the audience. Hosted in Orange County, CA, 21 April 2018.
7 April 2018
A Conversation with Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl and Dr. Heather Laird, Director of the Center for Muslim Mental Health and Islamic Psychology at the University of Southern California, hold an open, frank and insightful conversation about mental health and the issues that plague the Muslim community within the current climate of our times. Hosted at The Usuli Institute, 7 April 2018.
17 March 2018
A Conversation with Khaled Beydoun and Salam Al-Marayati on Islamophobia and Power moderated by Khaled Abou El Fadl. What is the role of American Muslim organizations via-a-vis political power, the racialization of Muslims and Islamophobia? What has been the experience of MPAC as an American Muslim Organization and what model does MPAC set for American Muslims? How do we analyze and critique the role of American Muslim organizations in light of Islamophobia? These are complex questions where we will find points of consensus and disagreement. Is there a way to build upon points of consensus and overcome points of disagreement? Hosted by The Usuli Institute. Recorded on 17 March 2018.
3 March 2018
Drs. Khaled Abou El Fadl and Sherman Jackson in conversation about Shari'ah in America and the idea of "An American Madhhab".
A Conference on American Islam at UCLA, March 3, 2018.
Permission to publish the lecture was granted to The Usuli Institute by the speakers.