We invited students to weigh in on why they believe in Project Illumine, its importance, and why people should support it. Here is what they told us:
"The most celebrated and influential commentaries on the Qur'an were written by polymaths. They exist because the scholars who authored them had the time and resources to devote their undivided attention to a book that deserves nothing less. Such intellectuals are a dying breed, and when our community is blessed with one it becomes our collective duty to support their work for the sake of our religion. Dr. Abou El Fadl is one such rare polymath, a devoted scholar who is singular in his mastery of the various Islamic and secular disciplines. Anyone who has listened to his tafsir can testify that it is nothing short of transformative. If Islam is to have a future as a living tradition, and not simply as a historical artifact we admire as a museum piece, our community cannot afford to bypass the unique opportunity to support a scholar whose work on the Qur'an will inspire and enrich present and future generations to come. The imperative to explore God's Book did not expire in the medieval period, and our community stands to lose a great deal if it neglects this responsibility. When it comes to reviving our tradition and combatting Islamophobia, I cannot think of any venture more deserving of our support than Dr. Abou El Fadl's tafsir, whose work is done for the sake of God and the Umma that he loves."
"As a non-Arabic speaker, I have struggled with feeling excluded from understanding the full meaning of the Qur’an, because I have been told that it is a text that requires personal proficiency in Arabic. And the English translation only got me so far, so I never imagined I would have the opportunity to finally grasp the meaning and linguistic nuances of the teachings in the Holy Book. Project Illumine, with Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl’s in-depth teachings has not only made learning the Qur’an accessible, but also provided me with a safe learning space where there are no prerequisites to receiving knowledge."
"For too long, our communities have experienced a disconnect with the Qur'an that has manifested in inadequate responses to injustice, and even a mischaracterization of the Islamic tradition to justify ugly acts of misogyny, tribalism, and racism. But, less than one year in and the tafsir presented in Project Illumine has taught us the centrality of challenging the status quo, seeking the truth at all costs, and prioritizing principles over optics. I truly believe that, if properly internalized by Muslims, these lessons and more taught by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl will allow us to reclaim the Islamic message of ethics, morals and beauty in every action!"
“The Quran Halaqa is a project unlike I have seen a contemporary Islamic scholar endeavor. Through this project Dr. Abou El Fadl animates the Quran with original imagination, comprehensive historical study across different Islamic fields, and deep meditation. In having the privilege to sit through eleven hours of discussion thus far, I feel deeply that this project will expand our relationship to the Quran by examining the full meaning and messages of every chapter. In doing so, the Quran Halaqa will rekindle the Light that radiates through the Quran in different expressions, but has been dimmed by our modern disconnection. In a period of spiritual and moral crisis, I have no doubt that this project will reinvigorate the hearts of many Muslims who have either lost faith or lack a deep connection with their religion. However, to accomplish this feat, we need your help! Please donate, if for nothing else than the sole belief that a project such as this is worthwhile for its scope and commitment to illuminating our faith.”
"In my humble opinion, this endeavour is of utmost importance as it attempts to reclaim the spiritual essence of light and compassion in the Qur'an by employing a methodical and intellectual approach. I would call it 'hermeneutics of beauty' and cannot undermine how crucial that is to our collective world today."
A. A., Finland
“I challenge anyone to show me a single modern scholar who has mastered all of the Islamic sciences and multiple social sciences all whilst exhibiting an unbelievable level of clear genuine piety, wisdom, integrity, and total dedication to the path of attaining justice—Dr. Abou el Fadl is totally unmatched. After spending over eleven hours relaying his recent findings about the Qur’an, which has been a work in progress for over thirty years, his multidisciplinary achievements and intense spiritual connection with God and the Qur’an can be described as nothing short of miraculously illuminating. What we stand to gain by supporting him with a grant to continue his research and to teach his students will amount to infinite benefit for the Muslim Ummah for generations to come. We cannot afford to lose this opportunity. Please join me in supporting the mining of this groundbreaking knowledge...the future of our children depends on it.”
"The depth of Sheikh Dr. Abou El Fadl's explanation of Qur'anic verses is like none other I have experienced so far. If one wishes to truly feel the majesty, the mercy, the power, the beauty, the truth and even the mystery of Allah in His revelation, then learning from the Sheikh is precisely where one can encounter and discover this. The profundity of his analysis and the acuity of intellect makes this an exceptional learning experience of a calibre that is rarely found in our Muslim community today subhanAllah. Masha'Allah, the Sheikh's own purity of intent and desire to explore and find Allah's will in the Qur'an brilliantly warms us like a beckoning light as he leads us in this study. May Allah swt preserve him and his heart, soul and mind so that we may continue to benefit from this precious human that Allah has bestowed upon our Ummah."
A. A. A.
"Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl is the only scholar I trust thoroughly as a guide to understand Islam in a meaningful and life changing way in this day and age. A rare combination of deep knowledge of sources, intellectual ambition and courage, and ethical integrity. I believe supporting his work and this project will be an investment that benefits us and future generations, who will be able to look to this material as a reference in everyday life, in non-dogmatic and constructive ways."
"After attending each of Prof. Abou El Fadl's sessions in which he explores his recent findings on the Quran, I feel that we stand to gain so much if we support the New Quran Project. I also feel we stand to lose so much if we don't. For those seeking to truly fall in love with the Quran; searching for an Islam of beauty and light; desiring a faith that excites both head and heart, preserving the very best of our past while fully engaging the present - this is your project. Support Prof. Abou El Fadl and contribute to this intellectual jihad. In Prof. Abou El Fadl, Muslims today are both blessed and tested. We are blessed by his rare intellect and his mastery of both the Islamic and Western intellectual traditions. We are blessed by his piety and deep love for the Quran and his Muslim ummah. In an age of darkness and despotism, Prof. Abou El Fadl and the Usuli Institute represent the very best of our faith. The test, however, lies in how we as a community respond. Do we support our greatest scholars? Do we really care enough to support with more than words? Allah has placed a rare and blessed scholar in our midst and opened the door to a potential revolution in how we think, read, study and experience His book: What is our response? Times of crisis require bold and brave solutions. The New Quran Project is one such attempt to preserve the best of our Muslim tradition, to reinvigorate our present and to safeguard our future. I urge you all, for your faith and your ummah, to help the Usuli Institute achieve this blessed goal. May Allah reward you all."