Virtual Khutbahs

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl delivers a virtual Friday weekly address (khutbah) and congregational prayer (jumu'a)

via Facebook livestream beginning at 1:15 pm Los Angeles time. 

 


In response to the increased alienation that Muslims, particularly women and converts, experience at their local mosque due to the lack of inspiring, spiritual uplifting and intellectually stimulating khutbahs, The Usuli Institute offers this ALTERNATIVE virtual khutbah and jumu'a for those who cannot or would not attend jumu'a otherwise. Please join us online every Friday at 1:15 PM Pacific Time for the Facebook livestream (www.facebook.com/usuli.org). You do not need to have a Facebook account to watch.

 

If you are in our time zone (ie. it is Zuhr where you are when we are livestreaming), this can count as your jumu'a prayer. If you are in a different time zone, it can be sunnah prayer. Gather your friends to listen and pray with you. This will allow those who have been alienated from the mosque to create alternate spaces for Friday prayer, with Dr. Abou El Fadl as your virtual khatib. Or, watch the recording afterwards for a weekly intellectual and spiritual invigoration.

 

Is this Islamically permissible? Watch the First Virtual khutbah to hear Dr. Abou El Fadl explain the purpose, history, meaning and juristic opinions about virtual congregational prayer. Listen to why he has resisted offering such a virtual khutbah until now, and why he has come to the conclusion that our current circumstance as Muslims warrants such alternatives. 


WATCH THE LATEST KHUTBAHS


On Ethics and The Issue of Slavery, 30 August 2019

 

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl reminds that the Qur’an, as the final revelation and the final message given to the final Prophet came as humanity had sufficiently matured to the point that they could preserve the testament of faith in a book rather than rely on miracles. Once humanity reached that point, the prophecy ended, and the responsibility was fully borne by human beings to become God’s representatives on earth. God’s will only materializes through human beings, as fully accountable and responsible agents. Individually and collectively, we will be held accountable and responsible before God. Human beings must develop certain virtues within themselves and hold one another accountable for these virtues, among them honesty, truth and testimony, equity, fairness towards the oppressed and weak, holding power responsible and accountable and many others. Human beings must be anchored in virtues and ethics in order to discharge their duties as God’s representative; a human being without ethics who engages the final revelation and tries to represent the word of God will produce ugliness, trauma, and the opposite of what is Godly.

 

Dr. Abou El Fadl develops the example of the importance of morality and ethics in reading texts through discussing the topic of slavery, particularly in light of some scholars who have recently argued that slavery is not an issue of morality or ethics in Islam, but rather historical circumstances and pragmatics. Dr. Abou El Fadl discusses the historical variations and complexities of slavery in the ancient and medieval world, and points out how ISIS and Daesh, in rebelling against modernity and Western hegemony, effectively ignored and dumped all of the ethical teachings of the past 1500 years to return to their idea of a pristine Islam. They even ignored the foundational premise that Muslims as servants of God can only exist in a slave-like status before God and no other. He recalls the beautiful example that in a time when it was the norm to customarily prostrate in the presence of kings, that it was well known that in Europe or Asia, if someone would refuse to prostrate before a king, it was because that person was a Muslim.

 

Dr. Abou El Fadl goes on to address those who posit that the Quran recognizes and accommodates slavery and does not conclude slavery is morally reprehensible. Dr. Abou El Fadl puts forth the Quranic verses that are cited as evidence, and demonstrates that an ethical reading of these verses would in fact conclude the exact opposite. He discusses in detail the two Quranic parables that exemplify the difference between a free human being and a disempowered slave, and explains why they are in fact a resounding moral condemnation of the institution of slavery; slavery is likened to paganism and freedom is Islam. He underscores the reasons why the Quran teaches that slavery is an evil and has always been an evil, and how unless these verses are engaged with the proper ethical anchoring, other morally problematic readings are possible.

 

Finally, he presents the story of the Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) and his student Ilyazar of Damascus to emphasize the point of how easy it is for human beings to twist their thinking when they do not have a strong foundation of the virtue of ethics anchored in their conscious and conscience. If an ethical human being accepts God and partners their ethics with Allah’s teachings, the result can be beauty. But if a human being wishes to partner with Allah but leaves ethics at the door, the result will be ugliness and corruption. Delivered 30 August 2019.

  

Dr. Abou El Fadl presents the examples of ethics and reading texts through discussing the topic of slavery, especially in light of a group of new scholars who have recently argued that slavery is not an issue of morality or ethics in Islam, but rather historical circumstances and pragmatics. Dr. Abou El Fadl discusses the historical variations and complexities of slavery in the ancient and medieval world, and points out how ISIS and Daesh, in rebelling against modernity and Western hegemony, effectively ignored and dumped all of the ethical teachings of the past 500 years to return to their idea of a pristine Islam. They even ignored the foundational premise that Muslims as servants of God can only exist in a slave-like status before God and no other. He recalls the beautiful example that in a time when it was the norm to customarily prostrate in the presence of kings, that it was well known that in Europe or Asia, if someone would refuse to prostrate before a king, it was because that person was a Muslim.

 

Dr. Abou El Fadl goes on to address those who posit that the Quran recognizes and accommodates slavery and does not conclude slavery is morally reprehensible. Dr. Abou El Fadl puts forth the Quranic verses that these new scholars cite as evidence of their arguments, and demonstrates that an ethical reading of these verses would in fact conclude the exact opposite of what these scholars assert. He discusses in detail the two Quranic parables that these scholars highlight that exemplify the difference between a free human being and a disempowered slave, and explains why they are in fact a resounding moral condemnation of the institution of slavery; slavery is likened to paganism and freedom is Islam. He underscores the reasons why the Quran teaches that slavery is an evil and has always been an evil.

 

Finally, he presents the story of the Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) and his student Ilyazar of Damascus to emphasize the point of how easy it is for human beings to twist their thinking when they do not have a strong foundation of the virtue of ethics anchored in their conscious and conscience. If an ethical human being accepts God and partners their ethics with Allah’s teachings, the result can be beauty. But if a human being wishes to partner with Allah but leaves ethics at the door, the result will be ugliness and corruption. Delivered 30 August 2019.

From Bearing Witness to Becoming the Opiate of the Masses, 23 August 2019

 

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl begins by reminding of the anchor of every day and age, the Qur’an, and that those who make it part of their soul will thrive; those who do not will remain in confusion at a minimum. He reminds that the Quran calls upon us to “Strive in the way of your Lord,” and that struggle and striving require time, energy, investment and effort. He cites verses from the Quran that tell us that God has selected Muslims--not based on racial, ethnic, tribal, or linguistic factors, but based on a relationship. It is a commitment based on the understanding that: you are among those who struggle in the path of God; you are committed to the struggle; if you find God, you will find the true source of happiness, tranquility and meaning; you are among those who understand that existentially, without Allah, nothing makes sense; with Allah your life has a purpose, and it has consequences, which is a foundational principle for morality itself. If you are among those, then you are among those God has chosen. He cites another Quranic verse that tells us that our relationship with God should lead to peace and tranquillity, not rancor, anger, envy or other human emotions that harm the soul and cause hardship.

 

He points out that one of the critical tasks that we are called to perform as Muslims is to bear witness upon people. Bearing witness was a sacred job and a moral task that predated Islam, Christianity and Judaism. God knows that bearing witness is a difficult task because it can bring profound consequences as people do not like to be confronted with the truth, especially those in power. However, if you want to create a society that is ethically consistent with Islam, you must create a society in which bearing witness does not lead to hardship. When bearing witness and telling the truth create hardship, human nature is to avoid pain, and will naturally tend to justify behavior that avoids pain. This leads to hypocrisy in the heart. It takes real struggle to go against this natural instinct, especially when it means bearing witness on the side of God and the Prophet in truth in opposition to those in power. 

 

He explains that today, Wahhabism is no longer the problem, rather the theology of obedience to the state that is being propagated as an Islamic imperative all over the world. Under this theology, a Muslim learns that Islam is not intended to create autonomous, active, dynamic, thoughtful, and moral human beings, but rather, creates subservient and obedient human beings, whose relationship to politics is simple obedience. He points out that a society built on such despotism and obedience will breed hypocrisy and cowardliness. This type of Islam will ultimately lead to Islam’s death. This type of hypocrisy is what turns Muslim youth away from the faith.

 

He gives important examples of how this theology of obedience has resulted in devastation all across the Muslim world, and how it has made Muslims, particularly many Muslim “leaders” begin justifying and supporting the obscene acts of those in power, even to the point of suggesting that Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is not holy in Islam. He gives examples of how ultimately, this quietist, pacifist, obedience theology leads to moral relativism, patriarchy and even the justification of slavery. It teaches people that the most important parts of their religion are prayer, fasting and charity, and that all else is unimportant. He draws the analogy to Karl Marx’s assertion that religion is the opiate of the masses, and demonstrates how this version of Islam--an Islam without ethics, without a vision, without a commitment to justice--would be exactly that. Delivered 23 August 2019.

On Fitna, Ethics and the Modern Day 'Marketplace', 16 August 2019

Dr. Abou El Fadl begins by reminding of the often recited prayer (du'a) taken directly from the Qur'an that asks God to not allow us to be a source of misguidance (fitna) to others, and especially not to be a source of misguidance to those who do not believe in God. He reflects on the deeper meaning of this Qur'anic verse, and the ways in which Muslims, despite all good intentions, could be a source of misguidance for themselves or for others--especially those who are not Muslim, or do not believe in God at all--either through misrepresenting God's message through ignorance or insufficient knowledge; or by conducting themselves in such a way as to repel others from Islam or Muslims. 

 

He recalls another prayer (du'a) reported to be regularly recited by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in which the Prophet tells God that he takes it upon himself to be the first Muslim, meaning that he takes the covenant with God of being God's representative on earth as a great personal responsibility. He discusses the implications of this understanding and personal commitment to Islam upon Muslims in our day and age; if Muslims truly took this du’a to heart, their concerns about fitna would not be about covering or minding women, but rather about whether or not their own conduct as Muslims invites others to the beauty of Islam, or repels them away from Islam.

 

He reminds that it is not enough simply to have good intentions; intentions must also be followed with action. Further, context matters, and it is important to understand one's actions in light of their current time as well as their social, cultural, political and economic circumstances. In other words, the good conduct of a Muslim, whether in words or behavior, must be recognizable as such to other human beings within their own time and context. Muslim are ambassadors of the faith, and will answer to God on the final day for the impressions and reactions that their words or conduct creates for Islam. So for example, groups like ISIS and Daesh, who post horrific videos of murders and executions while yelling “Allahu Akbar” will not only answer to God for these killings, but will also answer for the way in which they represented Islam, God, God’s message, and the impressions that these vile images created in the hearts and minds of both Muslims, non-Muslims and those who do not believe in God.

 

Dr. Abou El Fadl discusses the importance of ethics and virtue at the foundations of the Islamic message, and underscores the necessity of living virtue. It is not enough to understand and believe in abstract theories of justice and ethics, but theories must be coupled with the reality on the ground. Dr. Abou El Fadl recounts two traditions that demonstrate how ethics is at the core of the Islamic message--one in which the Prophet runs to his wife Khadijah after receiving revelation, and what she tells him about his character that reveals the authenticity of his Prophecy; and a second in which an ethical man comes to the Prophet to convert to Islam and what the Prophet tells him. Both of these traditions emphasize the centrality of ethics and living virtue to the Islamic message.

 

Importantly, Dr. Abou El Fadl further develops his discussion from a previous khutbah about the great source of misguidance of our day - the Internet - and likens it to what the Prophet called the worst place in his time - the marketplace. The internet has become the modern day "marketplace," in which people are easily exposed to all sorts of dangerous misguidance (fitna), much of which is intentionally promoted by the Islamophobia industry against Muslims to plant seeds of doubt in their faith. He gives key examples of supposed "proofs" about the so-called falsehoods of the Qur'an and Islam, which are being promoted on YouTube and across the internet. Such videos make scholarly claims designed to target mainstream Muslims who, unlike trained scholars, do not have the knowledge to counter such claims, but which do leave Muslims in doubt. He advises Muslims who do not have the requisite training in ancient languages, history, religion or the like to avoid such intentional and targeted “fitnas” against Muslims by  "lowering the gaze" by way of NOT clicking, and not watching or engaging such "marketplace" temptations as a way to practice humility in the age of the net. Delivered 16 August 2019.



For Dr. Abou El Fadl's Friday Khutbahs prior to 2019, please visit https://www.searchforbeauty.org/friday-khutbahs-latest/

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