God! There is no deity but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names. Has the story of Moses reached thee? (Qur’an 20:8-9)
I would like continue the series on power and oppression. Links to the previous blogs on this series are below:
He prayed "O my Lord! save me from people given to wrong-doing." Then, when he turned his face towards (the land of) Midian, he said: "I do hope that my Lord will show me the smooth and straight Path." (Quran 28:22)
Moses, upon him peace, went from being like a prince, experiencing privilege and prestige to now a fugitive running away from a tyrant out to slay him, to the land of Midian. The land of Midian was inhabited by Arabs, and some commentators say that the Arab Prophet, Shuaib was in the town, while others say it was the esteemed believer, known in the Bible as Jethro or Yathra in Arabic.
When Moses arrived to Midian, he was traveling for eight days, exhausting himself to the very end, reaching a point of starvation with his feet bleeding from walking tirelessly without food or water, except what he can find on the trees. He came near a well and fell underneath the shade of trees for shelter. He had completely nothing with him, and fully exhausted himself - to the very depth of his body and soul in pursuit of survival. It is not an easy experience - but in that state - what does he do?
Some would commit suicide, others go on shooting rampage, and others on drugs to numb their feelings or escape from the pain, fear and a whole new reality. He just experienced and accepted the event. He surrendered to the new reality he was in as this is where God brought him to. Then, in a state of dire need and exhaustion, he saw two women who had a need. Instead, of being absorbed with his need and his near starvation and exhaustion, he got up and approached them, asked a clarifying question, then addressed their need. He asked them for nothing in return. He made no assumptions or ugly accusations about their standing with their flock instead of a male relative. Afterwards, he turned to God and put forth his prayer asking for "whatever good that You bestow on me."
“And when he arrived at the water of Midian he found there a group of men watering their flocks, and beside them he found two women who were keeping back their flocks. He said, “What is the matter with you?” They said, “We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take their flocks. And our father is a very old man.” Therefore, he watered their flocks for them, and then he turned back to shade, and said, “My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!” (Quran 28:22-24)
In this blog, I would like to reflect on the following names of God:
Al Wahhab - Allah has created a creation of donors who give without expecting return. But because they are not the creators of the things given through their hands, they are but signs of Allah's al-Wahhab. He is the donor of all, without conditions, without limits, without asking any benefit or return, given everything to everyone, everywhere, always. he gives money to the poor, health to the sick, children to those who are barren, freedom to the trapped, knowledge to the ignorant.
Al Muhaymin - He is the Protector and Guardian. He is the one who sees to the evolution and the growth of His creation, leading them where they are destined to go. Nothing escapes His attention for a moment. He is the one who watches the good deeds and rewards them fully. He counts the sins exactly, not adding to their punishment evens an amount the size of a mustard seed. One may find the reflection of al-Muhaymin in oneself through consciousness and awareness-by watching intently ones's actions, words, thoughts, and feelings, and by trying to control them.
--The Most Beautiful Names, Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti
Moses hoped for anything to help him survive as he was near starvation. Yet, God, Al Muhaymin watched the good deed that Moses fulfilled for the two women, without expecting anything in return. So, God, rewarded him, in return, turning to him with His name al-Wahhab - giving him shelter, food, job, and a family. Two things to note in this part of the story - a leader cannot have a deep seated prejudice towards women, see them as objects or exploit them.
So, people who go to strip joints, and then shoot Charlie Hebdo or Boko Haram who kidnap girls to abuse them, are not reformers.
A leader or reformer does not violate the boundaries of another human being, does not manipulate, does not hype others, does not overpower others for selfish motives and is open to embracing and receiving wisdom and knowledge from others. He does not look down at other cultures or embrace xenophobia or bigotry. He does not fear learning "Western education" and encourages Western societies not to fear "Eastern education."
“O humankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another.” (Quran 49:13)
Like Prophet Muhammad, Moses, upon them peace and blessings, was not a tribal leader or promoted tribalism or racism. He was able to live amongst Arabs in Midian and embrace other cultures - and appreciate them.
Another important point to note is that the woman hinted to her dad, her desire to marry Moses. The relationship among them was a deep loving relationship of father and daughter. This was not a forced marriage, the father merely facilitated the process.
“Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said, “Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered our flocks for us.” So when he came to him and narrated the story, he said, “Fear you not. You have escaped from the people who are wrong-doers.” And said one of them (the two women): “O my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.” He said, “I intend to wed one of these two daughters of mine to you, on condition that you serve me for eight years, but if you complete ten years, it will be a favour from you. But I intend not to place you under a difficulty. If Allah wills, you will find me one of the righteous.” He (Moses) said, “That is settled between me and you whichever of the two terms I fulfil, there will be no injustice to me, and Allah is Surety over what we say.” (Quran 28:25-28)
Like all reformers, Moses was given the gift of insight and awareness. He was made to observe and witness the negatives and ugly consequences of what Pharaoh and his soldiers were doing. He surrendered to God's will and accepted the way things are, and was nurtured by his new family of faith that there is a higher wisdom, yet outside his grasp.
Moses married the woman, named Zopparah, and spent the next ten years working with her father (either Prophet Shuaib or Jethro) and raising his own family. He went from a life of privilege learning leadership, politics and government and now was experiencing the life of a shepherd - a life of solitude and reflection. Instead of watching his people suffering and humiliated, he was made to ponder the wonders of God and the universe. There is a type of awe that penetrates one's soul when one looks at the stars in the midst of darkness.
During his time in Midian, Moses was a shepherd, like many of the prophets. Some argue, that people are like sheep, and to guide people and nurture them, the prophets were trained by attending to sheep. If you talk to a shepherd, this is not an easy job. Like humans, sheep, in particular, are weak animals requiring constant care and attention. A shepherd must be constantly on alert for their safety and wellbeing. The whole flock must be attended to and the shepherd must pull them back if they stray. His new profession increased him in knowledge, wisdom and insight, and one can speculate, allowed him to heal.
After the ten years of service, Moses, gathered his family together and made the long journey back to Egypt, but he got lost and was looking for guidance and how to find his way.
“Then, when Moses had fulfilled the term, and was traveling with his family, he saw a fire in the direction of Mount Tur. He said to his family, “Wait, I have seen a fire; perhaps I may bring to you from there some news, or a burning fire-brand that you may warm yourselves”. (Quran 28:29)
The call to prophethood
He walked towards the fire, and as he did, he heard a voice.
“…Blessed is whosoever is in the fire, and whosoever is round about it! And far removed is God from every imperfection, the Lord of all that exists. “O Moses! Verily! It is I, God, the All-Mighty, and the All-Wise.” (Quran 27:8-9)
Throughout his whole stay in Midian, he was under the watchful Eyes of God, being nurtured and prepared for prophethood. Now that he was trained and nurtured, he was ready to change the oppression he witnessed and liberate the Israelites. His next task was to train and nurture his people, so he could liberate them. I will discuss this in the following blog.
To God belong the most Beautiful Names. Has the story of Moses reached you?
God! There is no deity but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names. Has the story of Moses reached thee? (Qur’an 20:8-9)
I began the series on power and oppression in a previous blog that can be read here. I would like to continue the lessons and focus on another lesson in the life of Prophet Moses, upon him peace.
In many stories of the Prophets, women are introduced as playing a strong leading role in protecting, nurturing and teaching the Prophets, upon them peace and blessings. I will elaborate more on this in the next blog.
The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise. (Quran 9:71)
As mentioned in the last blog, Moses, upon him peace was raised in the home of Pharaoh and his wife Asiya. In the story, Asiya, Moses' biological mother and his biological sister are introduced as the protectors and nurturers of Moses, upon him peace.
Generalizations of the weak in the land are part of the story of oppression. In any oppressive social setting, there is more than just pain, humiliation and hatred; there is a general disrespect for life, and a lack of compassion of how destructive those settings can be on the soul of the victim. Such social settings do impact everyone, some more than others. Unless challenged the abuse festers and brews, and one is left to their own consciousness to realize the wrong in what they have done. Very few walk that road. This opens the door for many to want to break the chains and end the oppression. However, what lesson can we learn from the stories of the Prophets in fighting oppression? Do they use the same strategy or different strategies? Is their response always war or talk, talk, and keep talking profusely to win the argument?
These are questions I ask myself when I read the Qur'an.
During the time of Moses' birth, Pharaoh ordered every male newborn, to be executed every other year. Being inspired by God, and placing her trust in God, Moses' mother placed him in the chest and put it in the river, while his sister watched the chest as it floated to Pharaoh's place. When Asiya took him as a son, Moses' would not accept any of the wet nurses and his biological sister suggested a woman (her mother) to Asiya who accepted. As promised by God, Moses' mother was comforted by nursing her son and raising him during his early years. It remained a secret that he was her son.
Under and due to Asiya's protection, Moses grew up like a prince in a world of privilege. Due to him, the suffering of Israelites was reduced, yet they were still slaves in Egypt and oppressed.
Moses grew up with faith and was very much conscious of the oppressive setting that his people endured. In his own way he tried to reduce the pain and suffering, but that was more like taking a Tylenol or Advil to reduce the pain. At times, our plans to protect others or ourselves fall short from solving problems or open up a bigger problem. Our wisdom and consciousness or awareness are limited of how things will play out. But these occurrences are all part of God's plan.
Two beautiful names of God that I would like focus on in this Lesson. Al Hakim, the Wise and Al Khabir, the All-Aware. Below is a brief description of each name.
Al Khabir - He is the one who is aware of the hidden inner occurrences in everything. He is the one whose cognizance reaches the deepest, darkest, hidden corners of His kingdom, where neither human intelligence nor His angels can penetrate. Occurrences which are not yet actualized, but in a state of formation or being planned and hidden, like secrets within secrets, are manifest to Him. None can escape His attention. Know that there is nothing that you do in secret-or think of doing-that is not known by Him.
Al Hakim - He is perfectly wise, in His knowledge and in His deeds. There is no doubt or uncertainty in His knowledge, nor does it have an end.
--The Most Beautiful Names, Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti
Upon reaching adulthood, abruptly, Moses faced an event which drove him out of Egypt, all under the plan of God.
One day, Moses entered the city at a time when the streets were empty and market places were closed. He found two people fighting: an Israelite and an Egyptian. The Israelite called him for help. Moses had a high position which he used to protect the Israelites - so he was upset that he would be called to help him against the pharaonite.
Accidentally, Moses struck the pharaonite and killed him. Immediately he said:
"This is of Satan's doing. Indeed, he is a clear, misleading enemy! My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me!" and He forgave him. Indeed, He is Forgiving, the Merciful. He said, "My Lord, because of the favor You have bestowed upon me, never will I be a supporter of criminals!" And he became, within the city, fearful and anticipating the spread of the news. [28:15-18]
Important point to reflect on is his deep remorse, which was instant, within a split second. This remorse was a private and intimate communication between him and God. People who genuinely feel remorse, repent and have empathy toward others do not engage in projection - as we will see.
No one knew of what happened except Moses and the Israelite. Moses at this point committed himself to sever his ties with Pharaoh and his tyrannical regime which was engaging in divide and conquer within Egypt and oppressing the Israelites. He was willing to give up his privilege and high rank.
Clash of two Israelites
The following day, the Quran continues the story with the following:
So he saw the morning in the city, looking about, in a state of fear, when behold, the man who had, the day before, sought his help called aloud for his help (again). Moses said to him: "Thou art truly, it is clear, a quarrelsome fellow!" Then, when he decided to lay hold of the man who was an enemy to both of them, that man (Israelite) said: "O Moses! Is it thy intention to slay me as thou slewest a man yesterday? Thy intention is none other than to become a powerful violent man in the land, and not to be one who sets things right!" (Quran 28:18-19)
Based on commentary to these verses, the Israelite who called for help again, assumed Moses was going to get hold of him, and when he feared for his life - he immediately disclosed what happened the day before, and thereby put Moses' life in danger.
Let us pause here and reflect.
The Quran gives us pearls of wisdom to help us in our struggle against oppression and if we want God's help how to introspect and with God's grace check ourselves. When facing the enemy - both Israelites tried to resist, only Moses was resisting not for his self but for the fellow Israelite putting his rank and privilege in a state of sacrifice. Only Moses felt remorse at the loss of life which remained with him the following day such that it made him anxious and yell at that same Israelite the following day.
That Israelite had a pattern of being in trouble and yelling for help. However, while Moses was aiming at protecting the Israelite and fighting oppression, the other Israelite was acting out of selfish motives, not only did he not care about the loss of life - if he genuinely did - he would have said something the day before to Moses or others. He would have felt so much remorse that it would have left an impact on him the following day and prevented him from being in trouble again. Upon seeing Moses again in the city, he would have refused to call him for help - given what he witnessed.
However, he remained silent and was in trouble again and yelling for help again. Yet, when he assumed his life was in danger - at that point - concerned only for himself and forgetting the protection that Moses offered him the day before - he disclosed what happened, and thereby put Moses' life in danger. He projected his internal reality onto Moses, accusing him of seeking "to become a powerful violent man in the land, and not to be one who sets things right!"
According to Islamic teachings, Prophets and Messengers are divinely protected from sin. This trial is understood as a test. There is wisdom in the mistake that Moses made to understand some of the secrets within and how trials are faced by Prophets.
So what does Moses do? His life is now in danger. He could have used his privilege and power to claim that the other Israelite hyped him up - and have him arrested. He could have hit the other Israelite for dragging him into a fight that he had no intention of engaging in, then leaving him to suffer the consequences and thinking only of himself. Yet, he did none of the above. God, the Wise and the All-Aware guided him to leave as he knew the whole reality.
And there came a man, running, from the furthest end of the City. He said: "O Moses! the Chiefs are taking counsel together about thee, to slay thee: so get thee away, for I do give thee sincere advice." He therefore got away therefrom, looking about, in a state of fear. He prayed "O my Lord! save me from people given to wrong-doing." Then, when he turned his face towards (the land of) Madyan, he said: "I do hope that my Lord will show me the smooth and straight Path." (Quran 28:20-22)
True reformers are people who have the capacity to feel remorse. They value life, all life. They are people of sacrifice and when their lives are in danger, they turn to God and seek guidance - on what is the best way to respond. At times, God inspires you to put the babe in the basket, at times He inspires you to raise that child as your own, and at times He inspires you to leave as He has other plans for you.
This is a reflection piece and meant for one to analyze themselves and not others.
To God belongs the most beautiful names. Has the story of Moses reached you?
God! There is no deity but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names. Has the story of Moses reached thee? (Qur’an 20:8-9)
Fellow Muslims ask me why I focus on other Prophets more than Prophet Muhammad, upon them peace and blessings. The reason is that I teach the way I learn. My learning and teaching style is what I call a “Listening In” conversation. Most conversations tend to be framed in the “elephant in the room” format. The elephant is understood as the obvious truth which no one is allowed to talk about. Often times, the obvious truths are based on many layers of self-deception that hinder our understanding of ourselves, thus others. In the eyes of anti-Muslims, Bill Maher, Sam Harris, or the recent Charlie Hebdo affair – the obvious truth is Islam promotes terrorism and hatred.
“In the hours following a shooting that left a Canadian soldier dead, Maher had this to say: ‘Turns out the attacker was Islamic—what are the odds, huh? It’s almost like there’s an elephant in the room.’”
The problem with this format is no one asks: who created the room? And how and why is there an elephant in the room? The room is usually the psychological and social construction of those with power and voice, while the elephant in the room is always the little people, or people who are unprotected and voiceless. It is somewhat dishonest to argue – “It’s almost like there’s an elephant in the room.”
Truth is not as obvious as societal ills and psychological constructions bury the reality of things and people. In addition, as Novelist Chimamanda Adichie argues in a TED talk, that our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories, and if we hear only a single story about another person or country, and make it the definitive story, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is "nkali." It's a noun that loosely translates to "to be greater than another." Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali: How they are told, who tells them, when they're told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.
Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, "secondly." Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.
For this reason, I learned not to attach to the crowd, but to pray for guidance, search, investigate and verify what I hear, as people when they love or hate, project their own issues onto others, and even God – and attack people for issues they hate within themselves. Or they try to define that person or group with a single definitive story, leading and enabling racism or xenophobia.
I learned about the Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings, only after sifting through and trying to separate fact from fiction surrounding his personality. Some Muslims and non-Muslims have used and misused his name in projecting his image that stood in sharp contrast to the normative and authentic details of his life. There was so much ridiculous or distorted information surrounding him, that one felt uncomfortable and disturbed connecting to him.
In a “Listening In” conversation, the room is opened slightly either via a window or a crack to allow a light, an invitation to a conversation outside the room that calls us to reflect and better understand a higher level conversation that is taking place, a conversation where God is very much listening to our conversations and engaged and inviting us to guidance.
This conversation does not seek out the crowd, as the crowd usually follows authority, voices of influence and power. Rather, it seeks out a small group of people who within their circle of influence and power can take the conversation forward, creating a ripple to other circles of influence.
Through this learning style, I learned that Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings did not promote nepotism, tribalism or a crowd mentality that shouts down the voice of consciousness. He tore down psychological and social constructs that prevented the light from entering in the room. He taught his followers Jihad an-nafs, or the inner struggle of the soul. It is not self-hatred or blame. When you hate yourself - you engage in communication of projection and fear what is different. God told Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings; it is not you they are against, but the truth. The elevation of truth can destroy the psychological and social constructs or the room which enable racism and xenophobia and other forms of oppression.
At times to engage in the “elephant in the room,” conversations, there is an invisible social agreement that is not accepting of everyone. As we saw in the Charlie Hebdo affair, there were double standards regarding free speech that mocks people with power and those without influence and power. Today, at 4pm there is an event at the University of Minnesota that is discussing the Charlie Hebdo tragedy that took place in Paris, France. Check out the “elephant in the room” format where speakers will discuss Free Speech without any Muslim speaker. What value is in a speech or discussion where others are treated as objects and interrogated, psychoanalyzed and judged – but not engaged as human beings?
However, in “Listening In” conversations – is all about empathy and guidance, seeking the betterment of oneself and others.
For example, Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings did not violate the boundaries of another human being be it mentally, socially, or even spiritually. Once he tried to counsel a woman who was weeping at her brother's death - the woman did not know who he was, and told him - you do not know my pain. He stopped. He did not speak to her from behind a wall, but connected directly to her as a human being, yet still he stopped and left when she was not able to receive it. She later realized who he was and went to find him and accepted his advice of being patient.
I was recently in Saudi Arabia for Hajj or pilgrimage. With a group of people, we climbed the mountain of Hira and saw the cave where Prophet Muhammad used to spend time in to reflect. When he received revelation, he started out alone with a few supporters and slowly, he invited others - by promoting the truth. He was offered power, money and many material gifts to give up his mission but he continued to build a community of people who enjoin the good and forbid the wrong. Those closer to him, including his immediate family members were held to a much higher standard than those further away. He corrected his closest friends as well as family members.
This community was nurtured to accept diversity, human differences, and was open to growth and the gifts of each other. He did not just create a community for the strong, but also for the weak and oppressed. He gave people the courage to grow instead of to hide or pretend. They came to him with all sorts of problems, and he was known and mocked as “all ears” for being a compassionate listener.
He listened to the young and old, the weak and strong, and the poor and rich. He spoke on behalf of the weak and the strong, as the boundaries he set were boundaries to enable the community to grow and enable the growth of each other. It is not our differences or fear of our differences that nurture hatred amongst us, but rather it is acts of injustice that breeds hatred. And when these acts of oppression are not repaired and we have the power and voice to do so, then the hatred brews and festers. The obvious truths we want to discuss or elephant in the room may really be our attempt to erase in our psyche the injustices we committed against others.
Gary Younge raises an interesting point in this article here:
"The west does not see itself the way others see it; indeed it often does not see others at all. Solipsistic in its suffering and narcissistic in its impulses, it promotes itself as the upholder of principles it does not keep, and a morality it does not practice. Therein lays the dysfunction whereby it keeps doing hateful things while simultaneously expressing bewilderment at why some people hate it. It’s as though we are continually caught by surprise that others have not chosen to ignore their humiliation, pain, anger and sorrow just because we have."
Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings, taught his followers to seek acceptance of God first and foremost, and in doing so, freed humanity from the illness of perfectionism. When we seek acceptance from God instead of people - we nurture a community to work hard and acknowledge that imperfections are part of being human.
Across the globe, amongst Muslim communities and others - what we see are communities built that protect the rights and needs of the strong and demand higher standards for the vulnerable and unprotected. Whether we use the language of promoting faith or freedom - the problems that our communities face are the same.
The word for oppression in the Arabic language is dhulm, which means darkness. One of God’s names is An Nur or The Light. Hence, one understanding of dhulm or oppression is a disconnection from God, the Light.
In this blog and the continuing blogs, I will discuss power and oppression by looking at the story of Prophet Moses, upon him peace. He is one of the five resolute Prophets, mentioned more times in the Qur'an than any Prophet. As Muslims, we learn of his story through Prophet Muhammad, upon them peace and blessings. As the Prophetic voice is a voice that connects people to each other.
In the series on Faith and Guidance, I discussed two important stories of Islamic teachings – the story of Salman al Farisi traveling the journey of faith from a position of weakness and the Queen of Sheba, Bilqis, traveling the journey from a position of power facing another force of power, Prophet Solomon, upon him peace. In both stories, the journeys were about people true to their faith and/or values.
The story of Moses, upon him peace is a story about people in power clashing with people who are weak where both sides are not true to their faith and/or values. However, things are not so simple. Amongst those in power are many shades, most notably are people who resist and support the call to truth, and amongst those who are weak, are people who support the oppression of their own people or rebel for tyrannical motives. Yet, deeper still are a few righteous believers, and within them the noble family of Moses, upon him peace. Truth is not an “Us vs Them” story or a single definitive story about “Them.”
Under the watchful gaze of God, Moses, upon him peace, was raised in the home of Pharaoh. The beauty of this part of the story is that God tells us that He cast His love unto Moses in the home of Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s wife, Asiya, developed a fond love of Moses, upon him peace and wanted to keep him as a son, hence protecting him in a climate of deep seated oppression:
"'Throw (the child) into the chest, and throw (the chest) into the river: the river will cast him up on the bank, and he will be taken up by one who is an enemy to Me and an enemy to him': But I cast (the garment of) love over thee from Me: and (this) in order that thou mayest be reared under Mine eye." (Quran 20:39)
Moses was reared, like all Prophets, by God Himself. From their birth, they are connected to The Light of God, as they are to be the light and the way to God.
The story of Moses is a beautiful story of power and oppression.
Has the story of Moses reached you?
Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings
A History of the Prophets of Islam Vol. 1 and 2 by Suzanne Haneef
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
― Robert F. Kennedy
In 2013, the Minnesota Council of Churches and the Islamic Center of Minnesota began a dialogue series called "Prophets, Patriarchs, & People of Promise!"
Over several dialogues we brought in speakers who helped us to explore and share with each other their faith tradition and perspectives on Abraham, the Angels, Adam and Eve, Jesus, Moses, David, and Prophet Muhammad, upon them peace and blessings. For Muslims, all prophets are spiritual brothers, with Prophet Muhammad being the last and final messenger of God in this long chain of prophets. The discussions were quite interesting and the series helped to throw a pebble, creating a tiny ripple of understanding between the faith traditions.
This Sunday, we are moving past this series to a new dialogue: Faithful Response: What does our faith say about how we respond to issues of power and oppression?
I will share my perspective with another speaker, Dr. Cameron B. R. Howard, assistant professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Dr. Howard received her Ph.D. in Religion from Emory University in 2010. Among her publications are contributions to the New Interpreter's Bible One-Volume Commentary (Abingdon Press, 2010) and the twentieth-anniversary edition of the Women's Bible Commentary (Westminster John Knox Press, 2012). Her current research focuses on postcolonial approaches to the Hebrew Bible. Howard is also a frequent contributor to WorkingPreacher.org and co-hosts a monthly podcast at EntertheBible.org.
And not all forces or voices who are weak are necessarily oppressed. I discussed this briefly in the blog on Salman al Farisi here. I will elaborate more on this issue in a coming blog.
In addition, it is true that many times, religion has been used to create problems in society, to control and oppress others.
However, there are cases in history and now, where power is not a force of good, but is abusive and people of influence - attach themselves to those in power for glory and fail to be sincere advisers. In such situations, as people of faith who believe in God, we ask ourselves:
Do you see power shaping your community?
What is our responsibility in such situations?
What do we see in the Muslim and Christian traditions that address issues of power?
What does our faith say about how we respond to issues of power and oppression?
Please add your voice to our conversation!
Join us to listen and then dialogue within small groups to go deeper and learn from each other as well.
Sunday, March 16
2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Islamic Center of Minnesota
1401 Gardena Ave. NE
Fridley, MN 55432
Participants in the Muslim Christian Dialogue are invited to park on the street, in the parking lot of the Islamic Center of Minnesota or in the parking lot of Totino Grace High School directly across the street.
On Saturday, November 1, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Minnesota (CAIR-MN), in partnership with the Abubakar As-Sidique Islamic Center, will host a Voter Education Forum featuring Minnesota Muslim civic leaders.
The event seeks to prepare community members for Election Day. It will include a training on government offices and positions, same-day voter registration, and voter rights; translated voter guides; and a Minnesota Muslim civic leaders panel discussion featuring Congressman Keith Ellison.
Ellison and other panelists will share some of their personal experiences of how they first became involved in the political process and why it’s important for Minnesota Muslims to get involved.
CAIR-MN Civic Engagement Project Coordinator Amber Michel explains, “The goal is to help our community members see government as something that belongs to them, a place where they are welcome and a system that is better for their participation in it.”
Saturday’s event is the first in a series of civic engagement projects aimed at inspiring Minnesota Muslims to not only vote, but join committees, become election judges, or run for office.
“Muslims in Minneapolis represent a rich diversity of experience, education and expertise. When Minnesotans work together, all of our communities benefit,” says Amber Michel.
Saturday’s Voter Education Forum is funded by a grant awarded to CAIR-MN by the One Minneapolis Fund. Per the City of Minneapolis website, “The One Minneapolis Fund is designed to support the development of diverse leadership development and community engagement in the City of Minneapolis.”
CAIR-MN’s year-long civic engagement program, funded by The One Minneapolis Fund, includes the 2015 Day at the Capitol, ‘Great Minds Get-Together’ on Civic Engagement, Muslim Civic Engagement Summit at the Capitol, Muslim Advocacy Days, and the Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium.
When asked what she would say to someone who might not see a place for themselves in the political process, Michel explained, “I would say come on Saturday and get a glimpse of the many opportunities available for anyone who wants to make a positive change in their community.”
WHAT: Voter Education Forum Featuring Muslim Civic Leaders
WHEN: Saturday, November 1, 2014, 1:00-3:00pm
WHERE: Abubakar As-Sidique Islamic Center, 2824 13th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55407
RSVP Online: http://voter-education-forum.eventbrite.com
For more information, contact CAIR-MN: 612.206.3360, email@example.com