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.
Dr. Abou El Fadl reminds that we are but guests in the existence, that accountability is the first principle of justice and that God will hold each individual accountable for what each has committed, intended or achieved in their lifetime.
Recently, there was a notable Islamic conference that took place in Malaysia. This conference – attended by Turkey, Iran and a few other Muslim countries; with the UAE excluded and Saudi Arabia and Egypt vigorously protesting alongside Saudi pressure on Pakistan not to attend – shed light on the often-ignored plight of Muslims worldwide.
The conference was a painful reminder of the facts of life – we have a propaganda machine that ignores the persecution of Muslims around the world; and we have a group of human rights organizations that, while bringing attention to this persecution, are not insiders to the Muslim voice, such that even when they support Muslims, their voices often come out detached and lacking in passion or a sense of a real cause, on behalf of Muslims.
In addition, the conference covered the persecution of Muslims around the world by the atheist persecutors, the Buddhist persecutors, the Hindu persecutors, the secular Westernized Muslim persecutors, and the Israeli persecutors. The picture is not complete without the reality of the systemic and endemic religious bigotry in the enlightened (and sometimes Christian) West, in the form of Islamophobia. Muslims have become the most targeted religious group in the world, but this reality is not realized because Muslims are not well represented in the mechanics of discourse on human rights and on religious minorities.
Saudi Arabia was absent from the conference for obvious reasons. Saudi Arabia's policies, like the policies of the UAE, have become thoroughly subservient to the strategic goals of the United States and Israel. Saudi Arabia has abandoned its even symbolic leadership role to the Muslim world. The Muslim world today is without even a symbolic leader, as Egypt and the Emirate have also failed to take on this role.
It is time that Muslims start learning from the historical realities of the world we live in. Muslims need to advocate, strategize and think about the rebirth of the Khilafah (caliphate), one with a UN status as a demilitarized political organ with a symbolic religious role; with a land, space, and time that is considered sanctified, something very close to the legal status of the Roman Papacy in international law. Without a symbolic lawyer or advocate on our behalf, that is speaking in terms of a Muslim polity in the UN and elsewhere – who is not interested in buying weapons from the West nor expanding territory or wealth – Muslims will remain lost in modernity. It is due time that our intellectuals stop dancing around the issue and call a spade a spade, because that is the reality we live in...
Dr. Abou El Fadl reminds us that the message of God and His prophets has always been the same in its central themes, its basic precept, and in the normative, ethical, moral message and trajectory brought to humanity time and again, which can be summed up in the phrase, “There is no god, but God”. We worship no One but God and submit to no One but God. It is a simple and straightforward message. There is only One God and God is the One worthy of your commitment. This message has faced two specific challenges throughout history.
One is that humans have repeatedly been drawn to the idea of polytheism or shirk (associating partners with God). There has always been a tug of war between the idea of a single and only god, and the sociological dynamic that always mythologizes the one and only god into a pantheon of gods. If the idea of one God was an idea that lent itself easily to the socio-cultural demands of power structures in the ancient world, or if the idea of one and only God was consistent with the cultural, psychological orientations of people in the ancient world, it would have had a much easier time anchoring itself in native cultures.
The second challenge relates to the very concept of divinity in ancient history and why the idea of monotheism was constantly corrupted in ancient history. Modern minds categorize beings into either divine or not divine. But the ancient mind viewed divinity as a gradation. For example, a human could start out as human and become Divine. There was a serious and practical political reason for this mindset. Those who held political power and wealth wanted to lay claim to divinity. If a ruler was Divine, then challenging or disobeying them becomes a crime that is practically unforgivable. The claim of divinity was very important in order to grab and hold onto privilege. Looking at our world, it is clear how this system continues in some countries today. In dictatorial countries, like Saudi Arabia or Egypt, rulers can make no mistake and are praised constantly. A deification for all practical purposes occurs.
God consistently sent, and continues to send, the same message: there is no god but God. But this message clashed with the sociological reality of mythology, particularly mythology that served the power structures of the day. Rulers, noble men and human beings want to claim a divine-like right to be obeyed, and in order to do that, there is always an alliance between the clergy or religious class and the ruling class, as the religious class spawns off mythology; the mythology always serves the ruling elite because it allows for deification. That is why God tells us that shirk (associating partners with God) is a great injustice. God is not talking about God’s own right only. There are practical, sociological consequences to the compromising of the idea of monotheism, which is that human beings deify other human beings or even deify institutions, such that they can leverage power without accountability...
Dr. Abou El Fadl begins with the caveat that he will deliver a different kind of khutbah. The modern age of information comes at a time in history when Muslims are at one of their weakest points.
Information is power, and power negotiates information. Information is not simply an objective reality that is presented, or data that you either take or leave. Information is intimately connected with power. The flow of information disempowers the disempowered and augments the power of the already powerful. An example is the way the Islamophobia industry uses the information age to its advantage. The realm of social media is a marketplace that has many dangers. It is best that people do not engage Islamophobic sites and steer away from them.
Islamophobia is rooted in a racist colonial enterprise that has been developing and adapting itself for centuries. Islamophobic sites today present information that the average Muslim is not equipped to respond to or deal with. Unless they are well educated or well anchored in their tradition, Muslims in the West can easily fall prey. This situation is compounded by the fact that Muslims in the West do not have the institutional infrastructure that allows for a solid education for the average Muslim.
For example, in one such website, an evangelical Islamophobe says that the Prophet Muhammad told Muslims in a hadith that in collecting the entirety of the Quran, they should only accept as authentic the Quran from four individuals. However, the Islamophobe points out that all four individuals died before the Quran was actually collected. He taunts, “Isn’t this a problem with your Islam?” This might be a problem if it were actually true. In fact, two of these individuals were quite alive and both were part of the committee that collected the Quran after the death of the Prophet. It would take an average Muslim a considerable amount of research to know that this evangelical Islamophobe was lying, not just about who lived and died, but also about the hadith itself. The hadith did not say to “Take the Quran from these four individuals,” but in fact said, “Take your Islam…” meaning that those individuals are very good people and an ethical example of your faith. These types of YouTube videos cause crises of faith in young Muslims. Islamophobes – whether of the evangelical breed or the Israeli right-wing breed – will lie quite strategically, relying on Muslims’ ignorance of the Islamic tradition to cast doubt. If a Muslim is not morally, ethically and spiritually firm from within, it is much safer to not engage with Islamophobic material.
For Dr. Abou El Fadl's Friday Khutbahs prior to 2019, please visit https://www.searchforbeauty.org/friday-khutbahs-latest/