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CALENDAR OF EVENTS

May 2018
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Speeches

Muslim thinkers have recognized the importance of morals and ethics in guiding human development and have been cautious about aimless progress. For example, both al-Ghazali and Ibn Khaldun argued that the pursuit of knowledge, particularly scientific development, must never be divorced from ethics and values. While reason and knowledge, and indeed economy, have an important place in the development of human societies, they ought to be subservient to ethics.

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In talking about ilm (knowledge and education), I want to focus on two main areas: (1) imbuing our students with the necessary skills so they can lead useful lives, and (2) inculcating values to guide Muslims in lifestyles that will prepare them for this dunya (world) and the hereafter, and in the direct process honor the raison d’etre of being mu’min (true believer).

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Thomas Friedman, the well-known columnist for the New York Times, wrote a memo in the New York Times addressed to King Fahd, asking him to totally reorganize and restructure the education curriculum in Saudi Arabia that produces terrorists. I suggested to him, “Why don’t you write another letter to Tony Blair, asking him to restructure the education system of the London School of Economics, which produced another terrorist?”

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I would like to draw your attention to this issue of educational integration. Especially as we are facing the globalization of the dominant culture, we should take into account the cultural, historical, and educational aspects of education. We have very deep and very strong values of peace. So, how do we develop the curricula and the textbooks and reform the educational institution to meet the needs of our multicultural, multi-faith, and multi-ethnic society?

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At the end of a Religious Youth Service project in Hungary, a Jewish participant told me, "When I see a Muslim I think they want to kill me. But somehow, you have shown me that not all Muslims want to kill Jews. If you ever come to Israel, you are welcome to my house.” That statement changed my life.

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The world has witnessed numerous ideologies, including colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, and communism. All of these systems have failed to bring true harmony among people of all faiths, simply because they were made to do away with religion. Governments isolated religion from society, and people were told to keep their religion inside their place of worship.  We ended up with two Gods: one inside the place of worship, and the other god is government.

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In the Universal Peace Federation I found an explanation for cause of the intolerance in the world. To me, this message was simple, yet powerful: “Tolerance is not only harmony in difference, but also a moral duty compelling one to live for the sake of others.” Tolerance is a fundamental principle requiring respect, acceptance, and appreciation of a divine way of life in which there is a rich diversity of culture of heart.

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The Islamic nation is now being asked more than at any other time to acquire the means of unity and community. These meanings are found in the Holy Qur’an in clear guidance: “Lo! Verily, this, your religion, is one religion, and I am your Lord, so worship Me.”

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British Muslims are the most multiracial, multinational, and multilingual in the world. We are also becoming the most innovative in evolving into the kinds of Muslims that will be relevant and a suitable prototype for the 21st century.

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I am originally a Palestinian. My father was a mufti, a judge, and he was a leader in our area. He always protected the Jews from any violence. A Jewish man told me this when I returned to my hometown in 1967. This man also introduced me to his father, who had known my family very well. He told me wonderful stories about how the Jews and the Muslims and the Christians all lived together in harmony and peace. He said there was a beautiful coexistence among our people.

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If the language of religious people (Muslim, Christian or Jew) is offensive or out of place when shared with others, whether religious, business, scholarly, political or otherwise, perhaps we need to de-religiousize it. If our language, arguments or conversations are offensive to civil society, and if we cannot speak to every corner of the Earth and share it with kings and the common person, we need to strip away the dialectics and speak to the universal concerns near and dear to all humanity.

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Most American Muslims will tell you that America is the most Islamic country in the world, because it safeguards the rights that have been given to Muslims in their constitution, which is the Qur’an. It makes provisions for you to be a full human being and participate in society. Why do they come to America when they hate this place so much? They do so because they know that they can come here and be a street peddler; in 15 years their son will go to college, in five years he will become a lawyer, and they will have citizenship and full rights in this country. This is the hope that America gives.

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