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?
Thee alone do we worship, and Thine aid alone we seek. Show us the straight way, The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray. (Quran 1:5-7)
When the US was beginning to wage war against Iraq, the discourse in the public square was highlighting how evil Saddam Hussein is, and a laundry list of the evil he does plus speculation that he might have weapons of mass destruction.
The same programming is played over and over again after our relations with other leaders turns sour. Each side goes to their airwaves to promote themselves as the champion and protector of their people, hyping their people up and showing how evil the other is.
The pictures and conversations when relations were good between such people goes into hiding, as well as the secret talks and deals on how to strike a deal that robs and oppresses others.
Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, said it best on his social media accounts:
These violent extremists kill, burn alive, torture, rape... Westerners, Japanese, Jordanians, Muslims and people of other faiths... While some States imprison, rape, torture and kill.
Muslims are caught between these two madnesses. Now the silent majority - full of spirit, moderation and courage -, must speak up against these two objective allies of their historical failure. We cannot play the victims anymore and we must confront both the extremists and the despots at the same time. If we are serious, and ready to stop being apologetic.
There is no question in my mind that ISIS is a barbaric movement, yet when the Iraq war was being promoted, even by Oprah Winfrey at the time, many raised concerns that this war might open the way for terrorists to rise to power and many feared no one would be able to control them. No one listened as we were so caught up in the hysteria of fighting evil blindly, without seeing our own contributions.
As we condemn ISIS, we are also blind to our financing of Israeli apartheid and many military bombardments of Gaza, where our weapons and money burned Palestinian civilians - men, women and children alive. We are also blind that our drones burn people alive as well.
The deceptive dawn is a vertical light, that splits the darkness of the night into two sets of darknesses. It happens right before the darkest moment of the night.
Similarly, we are caught up in a deceptive reasoning reality where we must prove how evil they are, blind to our contributions, deluded that therefore we proved we are civilized and better than them. Each side claims the vertical light, and in fact it becomes a means to see the darkness within.
The real dawn is a horizontal light, a light that gently rises and brings clarity and understanding for all. No one can claim it for themselves, but we join hands at the junction point that all lives are sacred and condemn violence by all.
There is no resistance in my mind or heart that ISIS needs to be condemned. I do not in any way incline toward the evil they say or do. Many scholars have spoken up against their vile hatred and violence.
However, the issue is not how evil they are, but how they got to power.
I wrote the following article, Oprah Winfrey, Warmonger?, before the Iraq war. I have argued then as I do now that these deals and wars spill anarchy in the region producing hotbeds for extremists, terrorists and further ethnic wars. I spoke to many politicians in groups that went to argue against the war. Many were caught in the hysteria. I recall arguing with the late Senator Paul Wellstone, who was facing reelection at the time and was concerned to stand with his conscience at a difficult time, since he was in a tight race with former Senator Norm Coleman.
I told him, "If you were going to die tomorrow - what does your conscience tell you?" He stopped and paused and didn't say anything but later, he spoke against the war, saying he has to listen to his conscience. He died and never made it to the next election.
Coleman became senator and later on lost a reelection.
The Iraq war went on and now that the consequences are unfolding - we point fingers at each other.
The same discourse took place when Al Qaida emerged as well. One day we loved Taliban and now we hate the Taliban. This is not freedom.
The Muslim community as always is caught off guard by the emergence of ISIS and many are at a loss at their behavior. There are no credible solutions. Condemnations were and are continually issued as well as many refutations by scholars and intellectuals on their barbarism. Some went to declare ISIS as kafirs or apostates, to remove any Islamic credibility to their voices. Yet, the chaos exists and in such a situation - who listens and uses their intelligence?
We must pause here.
It is easy to start a war, or a revolution to topple evil people, but many fail to understand that stopping such violence when it spills anarchy is a very, very difficult task, and requires very strong, reliable, competent and trustworthy leadership BEFORE it begins.
In addition, if the means and discourse that brought them to power are being promoted elsewhere, then we might find ourselves closer to the darkest hour.
Let us reflect that all lives are sacred, and before we obsess with our security from them, let us also reason with ourselves that others have as much right to be secure from us, so that the real dawn break can emerge.
I appreciate the civil comments. I would like to explain that I am not advocating pacifism but moreso that when we make a decision to wage war, our discourse should obsess less on how evil the other is, and moreso on how trustworthy those making the call to war are. In addition, we must acknowledge our contributions to the current climate and choose leaders who were not involved in these contributions. That was the reason, I interviewed Shaykh Qays Arthur, on the story of Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba and Prophet Solomon, upon him peace. As Albert Einstein said "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
"We trust politicians who speak straightforwardly, don’t promise what they can’t deliver, explain their policies and their difficulties with reasonable caution, and visibly try to deliver what they promise."
Regarding my usage of the Quran in blogs, this is more an attempt to respond to individuals and groups who are publicly and loudly making claims that the Quran promotes violence and extremism. These claims are now on bus ads and subway signs, etc.,
Instead of mentioning their names, I prefer to respond to their arguments by exploring the Quran and letting its wisdom and guidance speak.
The verses regarding warfare were explained many times in numerous blogs as well as inviting international speakers to visit Minnesota and engage the audience.
Regarding the verse mentioned in the comments section: I recall in a class on communications, we discussed all types of communications. There is a communication between family, loved ones, neighbors, and there is also communication during warfare. People in the military discussed the this communication style. It usually comes in form of commands, tough, forceful, as you are dealing with a climate of war. The aim of such language is to take things seriously and to be vigilant, focused, and prepared to make split second decisions. It is war, and war should be the last resort, but sadly it is now the first.
During warfare, as I stated before, trustworthy leaders must have a strategy to stop the war, not just in combat, but to also prepared to nurture reconciliation, restoration and peace so that revenge attacks do not spill over. The verse mentioned in the comment sections is a beautiful verse which speaks in the context of warfare when facing a force that is engaged in genocide. One has a responsibility to stop such a force and push it to its boundaries. When that force has been pushed back forcefully, then promote peace. This is not easy to do. It is easy to preach peace, love, compassion and mercy when you are not harmed. Everyone does it, yes, including Muslims.
However, the truest and most authenic expression and manifestation of love, compassion and mercy is right at the point when you are fighting a force seeking to wipe you out, and you pushed them through combat to their boundaries and now have power over them. How many can now desist and promote or preach peace?
Look carefully at the verse, as there are two wars being waged. One against the transgressors (transgressing the boundaries of others) and another against the self to desist and promote peace when the war stops. It is not the deceptive dawn, us versus them reasoning, but a holistic warfare to end oppression, as it is our duty to do so.
I recall reading something by Martin Luther King along the same lines. Internally, King admonished himself, "You must not harbor anger." To nurture society to a higher understanding and fight injustice, King said "there had developed beneath the surface a slow fire of discontent, fed by the continuing indignities and inequities to which the Negroes were subjected."
So look at the verse again, and read the context and the time it was revealed. There are two wars being waged, not one.
For further reading, I recommend the following books as well as the authors:
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