you told us



From Adit B.:


Islamophobia is the most pressing issue as I read on LA Times recently that there was a call for ‘Muslim Holocaust’ on banner during Poland Independence Day parade, by some Polish. In my opinion, Islamophobia is a very serious issue for the foreseeable future and it couldn’t be ignored by betting only on non-Muslims kindness and conscience. It should also be tackled by Muslims and non-Muslims with consideration for non-mainstream Muslim groups (e.g., Ahmadis, Alawites, etc.) as well.


I wish The Usuli Institute would tackle the issue of ‘sectarianism’ within the fold of Islam (intrafaith community) and non-Muslims (interfaith) community for good.


- For example, the fact that ‘racism or ethnocentrism’ is being upheld, probably by mostly non-interracial baby boomer generation parents (I’m guessing by parents who are in ‘diaspora’ state of mind) are withholding younger generations to do interracial marriages, even within Sunni Muslims, even though younger people have learned that racism or ethnocentrism is against Islamic teachings and against current American values in general.


Children typically wanted to please or obey their parents, yet it seems that parents who enforced ethnocentrism is effectively stripping God-given agency away from their children, if parents quoted Hadiths or Quranic verses, in order to get their desires fulfilled. In my opinion, and I may be wrong, this is also a form of sectarianism nurtured naively by parents. 


Furthermore, practicing younger Muslims, sometimes are naive and not equipped with real knowledge or tools to reason with their own parents correctly. This occurrence may be easier to observe in single Muslims demographic in melting pot city such as Los Angeles or New York City, where children has grasped Islamic teachings somewhat better than their parents.


Additionally, strong materialistic mindset in both practicing and cultural Muslims is a serious obstacle. e.g., ‘find potential husband who makes at least six-figure income’, or commonly practiced ‘the husband’s money is wife’s money, but not vice-versa if the wife works’ principle wouldn’t help younger Muslims much. Especially for young Muslims who are in a situation where dual-income lifestyle may become necessary to build and maintain a new family.


To make things worst, most young Muslims are not trained to have ‘take-risks-in-life’ approach in general — e.g., if parents “design” their kids life for seeking stability in a new land by being an employee in good corporations via professions such as engineer, doctor, or lawyer. 

It’s understandable for parents who immigrated to the US to have a ‘play it safe’ approach, yet it seems that it has become a trend instead of ‘temporary template’ for American Muslims for generations. Unfortunately, the Information Age has advanced so much that what may worked for baby boomers may not be suitable for younger generations and their future.


In my humble opinion, ethnocentrism-racism, materialistic mindset, and ‘play not to lose’ approach — instead of ‘play to win’ in life — have real potential to become very difficult problems for practicing young Muslims who are not white, not rich, not engineers, and not doctors or lawyers. It may also affect converts. 


The impact may result in young Muslims to resort to marrying a good and ethical non-Muslims. Yet, this may lead to Islam fades out in the US, or it may place American Muslims in the same predicament that Jewish community face. 


How could young American Muslims be grounded in Islamic faith, rather than culture, if and when they wanted to practice Islamic teachings yet the first thing they have to deal with is a “sabotage” from their own family or community ?


- On sectarianism in intrafaith community level, most people in my age — early 40s and below, actually do not care much in real life about theological, fiqh, religious differences between Sunni, Shi’a, Sufi, Ahmadiyya, Baha’i or Alawite. I wish those religious “experts” are able to contain their own differences in the ‘intelligentsia circles’ only and would not prevent Muslims to live together happily, peacefully, and actually do get involved in each other communities while staying true to their own choice of School of Thought.


Moreover, I wish religious experts from each groups, within the fold of Islam, are smart enough to create a social environment where their ‘school of thought’ differences does not prevent one Muslim to marry another Muslim, even from an off-shoot “branch”. 


- On interfaith community level, I wish it could improve and build very strong bridges with different communities, including atheists, evangelicals, and even Christian & Jewish Zionists. Especially during currently elevated Islamophobia times.


From M.V.:


While the imminent destruction of the place that humanity calls home, through its own criminal carelessness and exploitation of the environment might be the most pressing and stark 'danger' facing humanity, I believe that the destruction and extinguishing of the self that lies within each member of the humanity might be a more pressing problem and the source of all other problems.


Without a divine anchor to give meaning to one's life, the self is left to aimlessly and blindly run after anything that may provide some semblance of meaning, in the process demeaning itself. Hence it engages in all kinds of self-destructing behaviours, leading to the destruction of family, social relations, sustainable life and ultimately even one's existence.


The ugly consequences of such behaviour is painful to see as it wreaks havoc on society, especially the young and innocent who bear the full brunt of these consequences. One is reminded of the ayah from Surah at-Tin: "Then We render him the lowest of the low". While Islam is the salvific balm for such a situation, Muslims are not immune from this epidemic. This engineering of the self does not leave anyone unaffected in this global world.


Depression in young Muslims particularly in the West is sadly very prevalent. While they may know the entire anatomy of their body and willing to accept the latest drug on the market for a deceptive shortcut rectification, they are woefully oblivious to their 'self' and its mechanisms. I believe that this ignorance of one's self, and its grave consequences is one of the, if not the most, pressing problems facing humanity.


From S.D.


Salam alaykum, I am a British convert of just over 10 years, reading professor El Fadl's books has saved my faith in Islam. My suggestions for the most pressing issues facing humanity are: international political economics, a global capitalist system which serves some countries while exploiting others, man's value as a human, being only in economic terms, also growing inequality within states (and basically all of neo-liberal economic theory), climate change and our inability to address it before its too late.


Pressing issues facing Islam in my opinion: where to start, the whole of "Islam" is in crisis. Addressing discourses of violence/intolerance/ hate, etc. in "mainstream" Islam. Islamic identities being based on rejection, and victimhood leading to a lot of ugliness.


And having lived in the Middle East for the past decade and having worked for an "Islamic" institution (a joke of an institution), I would have to say Muslims need to get their priorities straight. In the Middle East it's more important to police people's personal freedoms and outward appearances of supposed piety than it is to treat migrant workers with dignity.


Sadly the majority of Muslims I have met here literally consider certain nationalities to be sub-human, welfare fraud is the norm, and people take pride in doing the least work possible for the most money. I also think it would be important to go with the zeitgeist of the time and seize the opportunity to address gender, sexuality, gender roles, and masculinities and femininities.

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.


Subscribe to Our E-mail List for Weekly updates and Latest News: