Omar Suleiman: Islam | Lex Fridman Podcast #352

So the BBC reached out and said we want To interview you I said we've got this Idea we want to take you to a park and Have you meet one of the protesters Who's been wielding his gun outside your Mosque and talked to him It was really interesting because they'd Interviewed him before meeting me and The things that he was able to utter Before meeting me and before meeting Syrian refugees Was just awful I mean the most Dehumanizing rhetoric that you can Imagine But then at the park he meets me talks To me he meets a Syrian refugee family Uh one of the girls whose leg had been Blown off in an airstrike And he said I feel like an idiot I mean He expressed all sorts of regret And was teary-eyed That he could dehumanize people the way That he was and so my whole thing was And is come inside the mosque put your Gun down Disarm yourself and learn And you'll be surprised what you'll walk Away with And only took one meeting with him to Completely Shift His worldview at the time Which Was made up of heroes and villains the

Muslims unfortunately being the villains That had to be wiped off the face of the Earth so that the Earth could continue The following is a conversation with Imam Dr Omar Suleiman he's a Muslim Scholar civil rights leader founder and President of the yakin institute for Islamic Research and he is a professor Of Islamic Studies at Southern Methodist University he's one of the most Influential Muslims in the world and is A Fearless kind-hearted human being who I'm now proud to call a friend As a side note allow me to say a few Words about Israel and Palestine While this conversation with Omar Suleiman was mostly exploring the History and beauty of Islam and the Muslim Community we did delve briefly Into the topic of Israel and Palestine This topic is an extremely challenging One and an extremely important one It is Deep Roots and implications in U.S Politics in global geopolitics in Military and religious conflicts Wars And atrocities and basic struggle of all Human beings to survive to protect their Loved ones and to flourish as Individuals and as communities I did not want to cover this topic in a Solely scholarly fashion much like with The war in Ukraine it is not simply a Story of History politics religion and National identity it is also a deeply

Human story To cover this topic in the way that my Gut and my heart says to do it I have to Talk to everyone to leaders and people On all sides Muslim and Jewish Israeli And Palestinian from refugees to Soldiers from Scholars to extremists I'm not sure if that's possible Or wise but like Forrest Gump said I'm Not a smart man and maybe you know how The rest of that goes I just like to follow my heart to Whatever place it leads I ask the Muslim and the Jewish Communities for your patience and Support as they explore this topic I Will make many mistakes and I'll be Listening to all voices so I can learn And do better I've become distinctly aware that my Approach of talking to people from all Walks of life with empathy and Compassion but with backbone can create Enemies on all sides I don't quite yet understand why this is But I'm learning to accept it as the Reality of the world Hopefully in the end whatever happens Whatever silly thing I do has a chance Of adding a bit of love to the world Thanks for going along with me on this Journey This is the Lex figment podcast to Support it please check out our sponsors

In the description and now dear friends Here's Omar Solomon We've been trying to do this a long time It's uh the world tried to prevent it Through the the funny ways that the World does but uh here we are I'm a huge Fan of yours it's a huge honor to talk To you I appreciate it thank you for Making the sacrifice and coming down for Coming up I guess I appreciate it it's a Short flight but a long journey let's Start with the biggest question who is God according to Islam God is The most compassionate the most merciful The creator of the heavens and the Earth He is one God He begets not nor is he begotten he's Unique He is omnipotent he is beyond the Limitations of man He is beyond the constructs of our Imagination But he is ever accessible through Sincere supplication When you call upon him Alone One God he is closer to you than your Jugular vein the Quran tells us He's known by many names and attributes But his Essence is one he's one God no Human likeness No human imperfection can be attributed To him no partners

No image of him can be constructed And that is God so God represents he is A feeling of closeness that is Accessible to every human being well God's Not A Feeling God is known by Names and attributes We call upon God but There is certainly a feeling of Closeness when you access him and so I Think the beauty of Islam is that As perfect as God is described He's also so accessible to the imperfect And so the idea of sincere supplication And connection to him we worship him Alone we call upon him alone there's no Clergy there's no barrier between God And and us And that encourages A sincere devotion and commitment to him Alone and so he is certainly described Supreme And God speaks to us through the Quran And we speak to him through sincere Supplication And his attributes are the furthest from Us in terms of their perfection but he Is ever close to us through our Supplication through our prayers and Through our connection to him To open the door to that connection to Have a connection with God how difficult Is that process how difficult was it for You how difficult is it for the people That for the many many many Muslims that

You've interacted with Well I think that there are different Layers of difficulty Right There Is the Personal difficulty submitting yourself To God you know Islam requires a Complete submission to him and One of the things that happens is that If we Project Some of our bad experiences with Authority onto our relationship with God Then we immediately perceive him in a Certain way that might not allow us to Gain a closeness to him because maybe we Didn't have the best relationship with Our parents growing up maybe we didn't Have the best relationship with Authority figures in our lives and so This idea of an ultimate authority to Whom you submit yourself can be very Difficult you know Malcolm X who was one Of the most prominent converts to Islam In American history talked about the Difficulty of prostration for the very First time putting your head on the Ground putting your face on the ground And praying to God is a very humbling Thing submitting all of your Affairs to Him is very humbling And ultimately you have to relinquish Control and you can't relinquish control Without trust so you have to learn to Trust God to trust God you have to know Him and to know him is to love him and

So For me personally you know growing up uh Going through certain difficulties Having a sick parent who struggled uh in Her life with cancer and with Strokes Dealing with racism in south Louisiana Growing up It was important for me to learn about God through my difficulties for example Rather than let those difficulties turn Me away from him Many times people put a barrier between Them and God because they can't make Sense of the things that are happening In their own lives And so they project anger towards God And at the same time deny their own Belief in him and do away with this Natural disposition that every one of us Has to believe in him so they're Intellectual barriers certainly there Are experiential barriers But I think that one of the beautiful Things about Islam is Clarity uh there Is an explanation For His existence there's an explanation for Our existence there's an explanation for The existence of difficulties in trial And explanation for the existence of Desires and distractions And it all comes together so beautifully And coherently in Islam and so I think that for many of us we want to

Be our own Gods you know and ultimately We create and fashion gods in ways that Allow us to still be the ultimate Determiners of our own fates of Our Own Story And that's very unfulfilling when you Fail at your own plan but when you Realize that there is one who was all Knowing That there is one who is all wise You actually find peace in submitting Yourself to him and so submitting your Will to him submitting your desires Submitting your own fate to him becomes Actually an experience of Liberation Because you trust the one that you're Submitting to you trust his knowledge Over yours you trust his wisdom over Yours And that gives you a lot of peace and Then you have direct access to them you Pray to him you call upon him you Supplicate And Everything in your life suddenly has Meaning you know in our faith Everything is about intention and There's an intentionality even behind The most seemingly most mundane actions A morsel of food in the mouth of your Spouse your family is looked at as a Great charity the way that you enter Into a place and exit out of a place What foot you step in what foot you step

Out with there's an intentionality There's a word of remembrance that's Spoken There's a word of Praise before and After you engage in any action there are Things that you say before you eat Before you sleep there is meaning even To your sleep one of the great Companions of the Prophet Muhammad peace And blessings be upon him he said that I Seek the reward for my sleep just as I Seek the reward for my prayer because You sleep to refresh yourself so that You can once again do great things and The intentionality behind that allows Even the sleep to be rewardable you eat To nourish yourself so that you can do Great things you seek to be in a Position of Independence and of being Sustained so that you can sustain others So the prophet peace be upon Him says For example that the upper hand is Better than the lower hand the upper Hand is the giving hand the lower hand Is the receiving hand so to seek a Position where you can help other people Everything becomes intentional and There's no such thing as you know Something that is meaningless and Without purpose so every Pursuit is Ultimately a pursuit of God and when you Pursue God sincerely then he rewards you Not just with Paradise in the afterlife But he rewards you with a great sense of

Serenity and self-satisfaction here you Mentioned part of the struggle growing Up was having a parent your mom Who was sick what do you remember About your mom what are some happy Pleasant memories So my parents were well my father I Thank God is still alive Um my mother was a Pious woman a Beautiful woman A righteous woman a woman who was known For treating everyone with a great deal Of love and respect she was a poet she Used to write poetry about oppressed Peoples around the world From her homeland in Palestine to the Genocide in Bosnia she followed every Conflict before social media and poured Her heart into it she was a woman of Great charity So when I think back to my mom growing Up she was known for her smile my mom Was always smiling and in fact every Picture of her she's smiling and at her Funeral you know people talked about her Smile that she would smile at everyone And that was kind of her thing so if you Were left out of a gathering she was Smiling at you and she'd kind of welcome You in I remember my mom to be content she was A woman of prayer and a woman of Contentment so I used to see her in her Prayer clothes all the time in fact when

I think back to her growing up I think Of her more in her prayer clothes than In her normal clothes because that's how Often she was engaged in prayer And I think of her Um making sure that everyone was Included in a conversation so she was Very interesting And that she had several Strokes Um and each one of those Strokes Impaired one of her senses to some Extent so she was partially deaf because Of one stroke And she'd be sitting in a gathering and She'd be pretty quiet with a big smile On her face very serene And she would tell me you know Alhamdulillah which means thank thank God all praise be to God that I can't Hear because uh I can tell when people Are gossiping when people are saying Negative things around me about other People because she says even the look on People's faces changes so it's it was Really interesting because she was that Spiritually rooted and and deep that she Said like you could see on the looks on People's faces when they started to Speak ill about other people that their Faces would change that the Nate their Demeanor would change and she said I Would actually praise the Lord That I couldn't engage in those Conversations and that I wasn't sinful

For hearing them and what she would do Is what what people said At her funeral which was really Beautiful to me it was very comforting To me and I took it as a life mission That if you were new to a place or if You were kind of in the corner and not Not known to other people in the Community and you felt left out she was The one that literally would look around The room And she'd see who was standing in the Corner and who was new to the community Or new to whatever place and she'd go And try to include that person in the Gathering so even when she had impaired Speech and impaired hearing uh with her Smile and with her warmth she was able To welcome people uh wherever that was And so the amount of people that came To her funeral and the stories that I Continue to hear till this day 15 years Later after her passing away Of people that said you know no one ever Treated me the way your mother treated Me and she connected that to God So that was actually part of my faith Journey when I think of great people When I think of people of faith She's the first person that comes to my Mind because Despite her challenges she was always The greatest person that you would meet To anyone that met her and that knew her

Would say I'd never I've never met Anyone that kind that was her reputation And she was deeply empathetic she would Shed tears over people that she had no Connection to this is again before Social media before you know the the Heavy exposure that we have to people in Conflict zones She had to engage every single human Being in her life in a deep and profound Way because she had a profound Connection to God and she believed that That was her calling And none of her challenges made her Bitter in fact they only made her more Connected to God and they only made her A better person until the last breath That she took Do you miss her Yeah There I mean yes absolutely but I I feel like everything I do is an Extension of her So you try to carry what she stood for Absolutely as part of yourself the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said That when a person passes away there are Only three things that continue to Benefit them that continue to extend Them A continuous charity Or a piece of knowledge that continues To benefit people Or a righteous child that prays for them

And I want to be that child that prays For her but also does charity in her Name extends her charity extends what She taught me by being the person that She was To everyone around me and there's some Times where I don't feel like getting Out of bed sometimes where I don't feel Like doing for myself but I actually Feel like doing for her so everything in My life that I try to do I try to make it an extension of her and Um That's been my calling and you know I Believe I'll meet her again I believe I'll be with her again I believe that everything I do that is Good will be of benefit to her And I believe that it would make her Proud And so as much as I miss her Uh as much as I am Fueled to do for her and so I continue That and that's kind of become part of My life it's been my life story As a child and as an adult it's been Sort of the centerpiece of my life to do Things that extend her And ultimately in the process hopefully Benefit me because I I believe that She's a woman who I pray is destined for Paradise and I want to do the things That would get me there too What did you learn about death

About life from Losing her I feel like the facade of the material World Was made evident to me at a very young Age you know most children grow up And Their parents want to protect them from Everything and and I felt that too you Know my my mother wanted to downplay her Own tragedy so that me and my brother Could live a fruitful and fulfilling Life my father wanted to protect us From The hardship of her life so that we Could live fulfilling lives he was he'd Often be the only father on a field trip Even though he was a distinguished Professor I mean he was a busy man He he was a very busy man but he tried To show up at a field trip and tried to Make our lives as normal as possible But In the process we always understood that There was more to life than What other children were seeing it as And now I know that as an adult there's More to life than what other adults see It as the material world Disappointed early on so that we could See beyond it and I often tell people That you know There are many that grow up in tragedy Orphan children

Um refugees That Grow up and do incredible things because They immediately see past The Facade they see through all of the Material Promises of this world the Deception of it And that you can choose to be bitter as A result of that or you can choose to Be better And I think that for me I had to Consciously make that decision that I Was going to live a life Of prayer I was going to live a life of Charity I was going to live a life of Commitment And In that process Invest in something that's greater Invest in something that doesn't Disappoint And so I believe in God I believe in the Hereafter And I believe that God will not let any Trial Or effort in this life go to waste Without it being repaid in the Hereafter And so I work towards that and so life And death I understood existence to be Transcendent early on that if I believe That there was nothing to life except For life I would be a very bitter person

But because I know that there is more to it than This I'm able to uh exist in it Without being depressed by it Existence is Transcendence What happens after we die After The Material instantiation Uh Fades away So the Quran tells us That God brought us from the darkness of The womb Into this life You were nothing but a dirty drop of Fluid and you became this fully Proportioned human being from the Darkness of the womb you come into this Life You experience it and then you go to the Darkness of the Grave only to be Resurrected once again And that we are Souls With bodies not bodies with souls and There's a huge difference between those Two things This is the vehicle that contains us Here This is the material world that we Encounter here But we are not this And this is not our entire existence and

So the soul continues this is a life in Which We Seek to worship Him And seek to live in accordance with the Purpose that he has set out for us And after we pass away our soul Continues onwards Either to reward or to punishment or to A mixture of both but it's a it's a Realm of accountability And hopefully it's a realm of reward uh Should we exist in a way that he wants Us to exist So he said that you can look to God for Wisdom to make sense of the world There's a lot of stuff to us humans That's difficult to make sense of Um like you losing your mother There's a lot of Cruelty in the world There's a lot of suffering in the world Uh what Wisdom uh Have you been able to find uh from God About about why there is suffering in The world why there's cruelty you know There's a thing that I wanted to ask God About why he allows hunger and War and Poverty but I was afraid he might ask me The same question God has certainly given us enough food There's enough food in the world for Everyone to have a 3200 calorie diet a Day

God has certainly given us enough Guidance uh for us to not inflict on Each other the cruelty that we inflict When we look to the world around us First and foremost we have to have a Sense of accountability we are Accountable for our own actions we don't Blame God for the evil of man that's one But at the same time we understand that God and his wisdom allows for certain Outcomes that we cannot Encompass with Our own And that to isolate these incidents And to try to make sense of them is no Different than a baby in the womb That doesn't understand the world that It's coming into and trying to explain To that baby that hasn't yet developed Its own senses and its own perception of This world What is happening to it right you know I Often think of the example of a child And You know having Been at this point now through the Experience of Parenthood I'm still learning I'm just Going into having a teenager uh with Three kids And being a softy for my kids you know When you have to tell your child that They can't have something that they Really really want And that child thinks you hate them at

Some point you know because why are you Stopping me from Putting this toy in my mouth And choking myself they don't get it Right but at the same time you prevent Them out of love they're not in a Position to understand that you're Preventing them out of love And to isolate these incidents with God And to say the wisdom what's the wisdom Uh you're trying to make sense of a Pixel when you can't see the bigger Picture Your mind is not at a place where you Can make sense of the bigger picture you Haven't seen the bigger picture And so For him to even explain to us every Incidence Uh would completely defeat the purpose Of putting your trust in him so We believe in a god that is All-encompassing in his knowledge and Wisdom That gives us and Islam is very PR you Know specific by the way that there is What God tells us to do and there's what God allows to happen So what God tells us to do in terms of The road map towards good and then what God allows to happen in his Divine Wisdom that no outcome can escape him But at the same time we are accountable For our own actions and our own Deeds

So when you come to someone and say you Know why did God allow this to happen to This person I can't rationalize that for you because My understanding is relegated to the Immediate experience in front of me But if I know God and if I learn about God Then I don't have to make sense of the plan But I can tell you that I trust the Planner And I think that that's where peace is Found You know a lot of times you look for the Light at the end of the tunnel what's The light at the end of the tunnel in Islam there's emphasis on God and the Hereafter because to try to make sense Of Ah Divine decree and why certain things Happen in this world without the Existence of a God or without the Existence of a hereafter Will always fail you so the existence of A god that is all-knowing what we don't Know I know what you don't know that Understands what we don't understand the Existence of a God who is not subject to Our constrictions And the existence of a Hereafter where All things find recourse where there is Divine recourse Allows for this world to be situated

Within the existence of something Greater and not treated in isolation so When you're trying to treat an incidence Of this world in isolation you're going To fail and when you try to treat Existence in this world and of this World in isolation you're also going to Fail and so the emphasis is the belief In God A god that is not limited like you are And a belief in the Hereafter that is Not limited like this life And so everything continues onwards and There is divine recourse for everything Each and everything you know the prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon it Mentions that On the day of judgment a person who Lived the most difficult of lives will Be dipped into Paradise one time and Will be told have you ever seen any Sadness any hardship now when you think About the most difficult life some of The commentators in Islam they said that This is perhaps referring to the prophet Job Ayub peace be upon him because job lived Obviously a life of great difficulty but That a person who lived a very hard life Would be dipped into Paradise one time And just with a dip be asked have you Ever seen any hardship have you ever Seen any misery and that person would Say what is sadness what is hardship

What is misery now if you don't believe In the Hereafter if you don't believe in Anything beyond this life then the Recourse has to happen in this life and Because we see so many people pass Through this life Without recourse of Cruelty Without Recourse of suffering then we're forced To try to make sense of it and if you Are someone who believes that this Entire world came into existence through Randomness that were just an existence Of Random atoms that collide with each Other and that all of this comes Together out of nothing Then how can you put your trust in Anything that is greater So as a you know you asked me as a child Of a parent who suffered I believe that every moment that my Mother Suffered That she will be rewarded that she will Be elevated that all of that made her or Contributed to the beautiful person that She was and will contribute to the Beautiful reward that she receives and The recourse is certain to me as a Believer in that So the right approach to making sense of The world Especially making sense of suffering and Cruelty is that of humility

That we as humans Cannot possibly understand fully Absolutely in fact in the Quran it's Very interesting when God creates Adam The Angels say to God Are you going to create Uh a race or a species that will spill Blood and cause corruption And God says to the angels in response To that question I know that which you Don't know So even the angels have to Humble Themselves for a moment the Angels who Adore God who love God who worship Him Who obey him unconditionally they are Told By God I know that which you don't know And what we extract from that with many Of the early interpretations extract From that is that God knows that there are human beings That will come out of this Enterprise of Humanity that make the entire existence Of it worth it and so just as yes there Will be criminals and corrupt ones There will be prophets and beautiful People that come out of this and sages And saints that come out of this that Show that a human being Who unlike an angel who has no choice But to worship God an angel has no sense Of will no sense of choice an angel is Created to worship and has no desires a Human being who has the choice of desire

And worship the choice of righteousness And wickedness that there are human Beings who will choose worship and Righteousness that will choose charity Over cruelty That will choose service and choose Dedication and devotion Over death and destruction that there Are human beings that will in fact Ascend the angels in rank because they Will live lives where they choose that Capacity that part of themselves And they lean into that and worship God Lovingly and Obey him you see in some of The sages in Islam Scholars they Describe this as saying that the human Being has the capacity To be anywhere from an animal to an Angel or even worse to be a devil you Know to an angel not in the sense that We ever actually become Angels or become Animals but that an animal you know for The most part seeks its desires over Everything doesn't really think about You know many of the things that we are Supposed to calculate as human beings Doesn't think about which territory it's Infringing upon or you know how much of Its appetite it should fulfill it simply Exists to fulfill its appetite and that Many human beings simply exist to Fulfill their appetite and they choose That over worship or reason or anything That is greater just

They literally take their selves as gods In that sense and their selves have no Limitation on appetite so they just keep Filling that appetite and filling that Appetite and filling that appetite Whereas A human being can also go to the extent Of choosing something greater And disciplining their desires Disciplining themselves because they're Seeking a greater reward you know we Know many people that achieve great Things In the worldly sense Because they choose to study over sleep For example They choose to exert themselves towards Their careers towards their education Because they believe that ultimately the Outcome of those Pursuits are more Rewarding than the immediate fulfillment Of their desires so as Believers we Choose that love of God and we choose That outcome that we seek and we Discipline ourselves to where we can Even Ascend past the angels and rank now Of course I said we can go as low as an Animal or as low as a devil And we have tyrants Past and present and future as well That can become satanic in their nature Because they allow their desires to take Such control over them that they not Only worship them but that every other

Existing being around them Simply becomes a piece of their own Puzzle and pursuit of their own lordship And their own satisfaction and they will Kill they will discard not because you Know and I always say this it's not that Tyrants Necessarily like killing people it's not People's lives uh pose somewhat of an You know an indifference to them they're Indifferent to people's existence and so You become Either an object for or against me and So they're willing to discard Children discard people discard the Rights of others because they ultimately Have chosen that the greatest pursuit of Themselves is the maximum position of Power And a place to where they can fulfill What they want to of themselves without Any limits and every everyone else Becomes either a threat or an Opportunity in that regard so we can be Devils we can be Angelic like we could Be animals We're somewhere on that spectrum and Every moment contains a set of choices You can make absolutely every single Moment contains a set of choices and That's where the intentionality comes in Right so the prophet Muhammad as peace Be upon Him says that I saw a person Strolling in Paradise because he removed

Something harmful from the road Uh he tells us about a woman that lived The life and prostitution but that Repented to God when she was thirsty one Day and she saw a dog that was also Thirsty and she said that I was thirsty And God gave me water so I'm going to Choose to give water to that Thirsty Dog And God enters her into Paradise as a Result of that Sometimes the small moments with a small Sincere deed Can have a huge impact on a person's Trajectory so every moment is a moment Of choices and When we choose Belief righteousness a pursuit of Something greater than we find ways to Turn things that are otherwise mundane And to Miraculous acts right where we can we Can choose God over ourselves and in the Process choose a better fate for Ourselves How difficult is the process of knowing Understanding what is the righteous Action Of Knowing what it means to be a good man Or a good woman Well the truth has consequences so don't Seek out the truth unless you're willing To abide by what you find so a lot of People want to mold

Their journey in accordance with a Predetermined Pursuit that they already Have and so when they approach religion They approach it like another product You know there was a uh an article that Was actually written by a rabbi I've Spoken about this in several sermons it Was called the Allure of narcissistic Spirituality the Allure of narcissistic Spirituality where he talks about You know how religion becomes just Another product of your own self Adoration and worship to where you only Approach religion to the extent that it Gives you More happiness in the worldly sense you Only approach of it what is therapeutic So it becomes just as Secular In its nature as any other practice of Meditation or whatever it may be or some Other product and it kind of mentions You know how uh he he took that from a Person that is praying in a temple and a Guy walks into the temple and bumps into Him and then he curses the guy out so he Didn't see his behavior towards that Person as uh part of his trajectory of Worship he just saw his being Godly as The worship that he was engaged in the Truth has Consequences the truth has circumstances That are required of you actions that Are required of you that may be somewhat

Inconvenient so you have to be willing To engage in a sincere Pursuit Of Truth And look for Truth for what it is And not simply look for comfort and Convenience And when you engage in that journey of Wanting to know You have to engage it thoroughly And sincerely and try your best to Remove any bias I think that's what Makes the the religion of Islam such a Phenomenon for people that with all the Islamophobia and the bigotry towards it Still the fastest growing religion in The United States and the fastest Growing religion in the world to know That's not all birth rate Yeah we have a lot of kids but Um many people you know you met someone Just before we started this interview Many people in fact in a post-9 11 world Solve what they saw of Islam in the Media And they actually you know went and Checked out copies of the Quran and Started to read about the religion and In their sincere Pursuit Of Truth ended Up embracing religion that they believed Was the greatest source of Destruction In the world and now it's the greatest Source of peace for them in their own Existence in their own lives and so you Have to be willing to engage in a Sincere pursuit of wanting to know

And then be willing to engage in sincere Commitment after you know otherwise the Heart rests and so there's a process in The Quran talks about this of making the Heart like fertile soil towards truth so You have a sincere Pursuit but then at Some point if you come to know and then You ignore what you come to know then The heart rests and it becomes harder to Recognize it the second time around the Third time around and so when people Come to me and they say you know I'm looking for something I'm looking For I'm looking for God I'm looking for My purpose the first thing I tell them As I say listen What you need to do is if you're really Looking for God in your and you believe In God and there are often people that Say I believe in God but I don't know Where to go with this right I know that There's something greater in Islam we Call that the fitra a natural Disposition towards the belief in the Existence of God Um but where do I go from here you know What do I do now and I say the first Thing you need to do is You need to sincerely say oh God guide Me to the truth Call upon God sincerely say I'm calling Upon you alone and I'm asking you to Guide me to the truth show me what it is Right

And that's the heart function Then you need to actually investigate And try to suspend bias right Investigate the world's religions Investigate the claims to Truth uh Investigate use you know rational Inquiry to the extent that the heart Becomes satisfied And Suspend bias and you'll be surprised and So for a lot of people They come to me and they say you know This this about Islam I'm like look I'm If you're just going to talk to me about What you've seen of Islam in the media If you were serious about it you know if You're serious about it then Uh you're not simply going to be Satisfied with The highly edited images and distorted Facts that come towards you about this Religion right What are you looking for right are you Are you looking for a scapegoat Islam Poses a threat to many people right are You looking for a scapegoat are you Looking for the big bad scary foreign Enemy Or are you looking at A religion that one-fourth of the world Adheres to and if one-fourth of us were Bad the world would not exist right so Are you looking towards this religion That one-fourth of the world adheres to

Are you going to read about the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him are you going To read the Quran yourself are you going To investigate for yourself uh what it Is that this faith has to offer and find In it a great sense of of of wisdom a Great sense of beauty a great sense of Truth And I think that for for a lot of people You know they they find that Islam has Such a beautiful combination of the Intellectual proofs as well as the Spiritual experiences that often combine Uh what people seek in the Western and The Eastern religion so I had an Interesting two weeks Uh two weeks in a row Um this was August two weeks in a row I Had someone who converted to Islam That went from being that started off as A Methodist went from being a Methodist To being a Buddhist to being a Muslim so Two weeks in a row I had a Methodist Turn Buddhist turn Muslim great journey Yeah I I called my my Methodist uh Friends I have a lot of Methodist Pastors in the city that I work with and I said what's going on here man you're Sending people on to this interesting Journey of Buddhism and then Islam but Both of them had a very similar story Which is that they had sought in Buddhism for example the You know some of the meditative

Practices that are found that that Really Western religion which has been Dominated by capitalism and dominated by By very material things and uh can be Very unfulfilling they found that in Some of the Eastern philosophies and the Meditative practices and then they came To Islam and it combined you know their Their belief in sort of the abrahamic Way it merged their belief in one God And the prophets like Abraham and Moses And Jesus peace be upon them all with a A deep tradition Of meditative practices of consciousness Of connection to God on a regular basis And they found that to be very Fulfilling both intellectually and Spiritually and so I was like that's Interesting you know two people in two Weeks that went through that Journey so I think Islam is is very wholesome Comprehensive when people actually Approach it with humility and uh and and Appreciate what it has to offer As you mentioned uh In the minds of some Americans after 9 11 the religion of Islam was associated With Maybe you could say evil in the world Yeah maybe you can say uh terrorism how Can you respond to this Association how Does it make you feel first of all as a Devout Muslim yourself and Um how can you overcome it personally

How can you overcome it as a community And as a religious leader It's interesting because 9 11 now we're Talking over 21 years ago You know there's people born after 9 11. It's great you get to talk to them all The time yeah so when I'm talking to Young Muslims I'm talking about Post 9 11 Post 9 11 they're like I didn't I was Born in 2005. what are you talking about Post 9 11 I'm like well you know I Remember being a teenager I remember Being in high school when this happened Right so a lot of us that experienced 911 as high school lures or as college Students and remember distinctly what it Was like to be a Muslim pre-9 11 and Post 9 11. uh we can relate to that Experience and we could we could Identify that juncture you know very Clearly and talk about it and speak to The change in the perceptions of Islam That happened here in the United States And around the world but a lot of young People are born into that reality and Are experiencing the aftermath of it And um you know unfortunately have to Deal with the bigotry that has uh not Just you know taken greater shape in Media constructions of Islam but also Policies right a lot of the civil Liberties of the Muslim Community were Taken away from us you read about the Patriot Act you read about the

Securitization of the Muslim Community And some of the unfair practices that Have been engaged by the Bush Administration the Obama Administration The Trump Administration and continue Into the Biden Administration uh International islamophobia and so The hatred of Muslims and the bigotry That is wielded against Muslims on the basis of this idea that We are a barbaric people not Ascribe to a religion of hate and Violence Has had immediate consequences for us no Matter where we are in terms of our age And in terms of our experience we We Have dealt with that in different ways Now The association of Islam to terrorism is A lazy Association It's one that ignores both The History of Violence As well as its everyday occurrence You know we're good for how many mass Shootings a year Once when's the last time you heard of a Muslim carrying out a mass shooting in America right how many of those mass Shootings if you were to scrub the Social media what 400 500 mass shootings A year If you were to scrub the social media of Some of those that carried out those Shootings you know we're good for one or

Two idiots a year right you know it's Unfortunate that you're gonna have People that that carry out despicable Acts of violence But when we as Muslims hear someone in The media say terrorism has been ruled Out as a possibility While the blood is still on the floor of That Walmart we already know that the Police chief just said that that wasn't A Muslim don't worry you know there was No Kari the guy or an Isis guy Um it was it was one of our own right And so it's it's become frankly Ridiculous because the association of Violence with Islam Uh is one that is used to actually uh Carry out acts of violence against Muslims worldwide it justifies bad Policy towards Muslims worldwide and Then in the United States and it's just Factually so lazy there was a study just About how the media gives more attention To acts of violence done by Muslims and Immediately uh stamps it with Islam up To 300 percent more than it will with Another act of violence carried out in The name of anything else so you don't Hear about the acts of violence that are Carried out by others you don't hear About the religion of the perpetrators You don't associate terrorism with Actions frankly of State terrorism you Know when governments launch chemical

Attacks or drone weddings And do so while explicitly dehumanizing The people just because they do so With the government apparatus doesn't Make it any less terroristic than if It's a lone person that goes out and Commits an act of violence trying to Achieve a political goal So the association is lazy historically Speaking the Crusades I grew up in Louisiana I saw Clan rallies ku klux Klan rallies my whole life and people Said well that's a thing of the past Well guess what you know we see many Semblances many acts that are carried Out with the same vitriol that was Generated by the Ku Klux Klan We have people standing in front of our Mosques that belong to right wing hate Militias carrying AR-15s talking about wanting to inflict Harm on Muslims I have been to Christchurch New Zealand and buried the Victims of a white supremacist terrorist Who was inspired by the political Rhetoric here in the United States in His own words in his Manifesto to go and Kill 50 innocent people in Christchurch New Zealand one of the most peaceful Cities in the world And by the way Lex I mean it's really Interesting like with Christ Church You know the man wanted and I won't even Say his name

But his next Target after the two Mosques had he not been stopped was to Go to a Muslim daycare so what drives Someone To dehumanize people to that extent that He was willing to go to a daycare and Murder a bunch of kids because he saw Them as a demographic threat to Civilization so Muslims are terrorized Because they are falsely depicted as Terrorists Muslims suffer domestically And globally because of this false Association It's a lazy Association And when someone comes around and says Well Um fine not all Muslims are terrorists But all terrorists are Muslims I say That You clearly don't read statistics Whether we're talking about the 20th Century and I'm a student of history and I believe you are as well all the isms World War One World War II had nothing To do with religion certainly nothing to Do with Islam fascism uh Soviet atheism Right many of these systems where people Were murdered in the millions Nazism uh The Holocaust Rwanda Cambodia I can go On and on the rohingya Today the Greatest atrocity towards the oyers Where is Islam fit in all of this people Do horrible things They stamp it with religion at times But the only group of people that seem

To suffer after an act of violence is Committed are Muslims because any act of Violence that is committed by a Muslim Will immediately be blamed on Islam and Two billion people will have to carry The burden of the act of a single Perpetrator And Just to reiterate In case the numbers are not known you Mentioned Christ Church those are two Mosque shootings Oh 51 people killed and 40 were injured In New Zealand yeah So it's uh It's hate manifesting itself and and Then uh actual human suffering and Destruction Absolutely is there similarities between Uh anti-Semitism and anti-muslim Hate So is there something deeper to say About hate in general here that is Beyond just particularly hate towards Muslims absolutely look Um in Pittsburgh the synagogue shooting The perpetrator particularly targeted Targeted that Synagogue because Tree of Life synagogue Is life synagogue 11 killed six wounded In 2018. Because He believed that they were taking in Syrian refugees or supporting Syrian Muslim refugees

You think about that The San Diego synagogue shooting that Took place shortly after he went to a Mosque and then he went to a synagogue Um Look the idea of Scapegoating minority populations And attributing to them A disproportionate sense of power and a Nefarious element where they can't be Trusted And unless we wipe them out Then they're going to wipe us out Underlies many of the bigotries that Exist I mean look um after Trump Announced his Muslim ban there was a Shooting in Canada an attack in Canada On a mosque in Quebec where six people Were killed The shooter explicitly said that the Reason why he went to that mosque in Quebec and shot dead six Muslim Worshipers was because he was afraid That because of the ban on Syrian Refugees in the United States they would Come to Canada and he didn't want them To feel welcomed in Canada So there is a connection And I think it's when you are able to Dehumanize large groups of people And attribute a nefarious element to Them Then unfortunately in a world that's Becoming more and more polarized where

People are able to construct their Entire world views based on an algorithm That their social media caters to You're going to have Some of these attacks happen and there's Going to be an unfortunate connection Between them So what I what I tell people is that you Know I think with all of these people That shoot up synagogues and shoot up Mosques and even before that actually The Charleston South Carolina shooting at an AME Church You know When he went there He actually said that before he murdered Nine worshipers in that church He was taken aback by how nice they were To him he sat there for two hours before He turned a gun on Many people who were over the age of 80 Years old And murdered Them In Cold Blood So this is what I talk about when I say That as human beings we have the Propensity unfortunately uh To become worse than Devils or we can Choose To be angelic When we choose worship and righteousness Over ourselves So that's a spiritual crisis as well and A crisis of meaning and emptiness

Where I think People are willing to inflict great pain On others when they can't make sense of Their pain in their own lives I'd like to try to figure out together With you sort of um A way out To try to decrease the amount of hate in The world but maybe it's useful to talk About the BBC documentary that Um it's kind of interesting that people Should check out it's called United States of hate Muslims under attack and You um you appear in that you have Conversations with people who are uh Anti-muslim and it's I believe most of It takes place here in Dallas yeah and Can you just tell me about this uh Little documentary about that time what It was like to interact what was the Group in the documentary and what was Like to interact with them you know in The very beginning of um the rise Of at that time actually Ted Cruz Donald Trump like when when islamophobia Uh was at the center of many of the Presidential candidates campaigns at the Time so this must have been 2015 yes 2015. Um the mayor of Irving at the time Beth Van Dyne who is now a congresswoman Had put out the idea That Muslims were operating at Sharia Court in Irving Texas

And suddenly there was hysteria because Again there's the idea that Muslims are Here to dominate Muslims are here to Overthrow everything that you have Um in the United States there was a Hysteria here And it was unfortunate because Um what it Unleashed you know especially With the national discourse at the time Again the presidential campaign you know Donald Trump says I think Islam hates us When he uses those words I think Islam Hates us When Ted Cruz suggests that Muslim Neighborhoods could be patrolled or Should be patrolled And then you have the Irving mayor Saying that one of the most populated Cities with Muslims in America they're Operating under an alternative uh legal And Alternate legal system and Funny enough the year before that she'd Come to the mosque and she praised the Diversity of Irving and she was talking About how welcome she felt in the mosque And the next thing we know you have These crazy white supremacist groups Openly white supremacists that affiliate Themselves with The clan and others Protesting regularly in front of our Mosques with their AR-15s and Um telling people to go back home and I'm like I'm from New Orleans I'm not

Planning to move back to New Orleans I'm Home we're we're home we're good you Know we're staying put And we refuse to be intimidated But then when the Syrian refugee crisis Is unfolding as well Dallas has been one of the more popular Destinations if you will I'm not talking About it like a vacation destination but Where a lot of refugees have come to Just because of the infrastructure that We have set up here to receive refugees And so that hysteria Was an unfortunate perfect combustion of The national discourse with the local Discourse with the incoming refugees And we would do all sorts of Welcome Refugee events and we do that you know And and we don't only do that for Muslim Refugees by the way there are refugees From other parts of the world as well Um but we would host events at our Mosques you know to welcome refugees to Help integrate them into the community To do things for them so you have these Armed protests happening right and it's Horrible because Think about the trauma to the children That are hearing about tree of life and Hearing about some of these other Incidents that are unfolding and really One of the first communities I was Targeted was the Sikh community in Madison that was one of the first

Shootings and then the AME Church Charleston And then you just had tons of places of Worship being targeted right so they're Seeing this unfold and they're seeing These guns in front of their mosques and The result To many as well I just don't want to get Shot I don't want to go to the mosque I Don't want to have this happen to me So I you know when BBC reached out and Said we want to do a documentary about This uh unfortunately Dallas was the Only place in America where you had Regular armed groups in front of our Mosques it was happening around the Country infrequently but here it was Happening every week so the BBC reached Out and said we want to interview you I Said we've got this idea we want to put You we want to take you to a park and Have you meet one of the protesters uh Who's been wielding his gun outside your Mosque and talked to him And it was really interesting because They'd interviewed him before meeting me And the things that he was able to utter Before meeting me and before meeting Syrian refugees Uh was just awful I mean the most Dehumanizing rhetoric that you can Imagine But then at the park He meets me talks to me he meets a

Syrian refugee family One of the girls whose leg had been Blown off in an airstrike And he said I feel like an idiot I mean He expressed all sorts of regret And was teary-eyed That he could dehumanize people the way That he was and so my whole thing was And is come inside the mosque put your Gun down Disarm yourself and learn And you'll be surprised what you'll walk Away with And only took one meeting with him Um so completely Uh shift His worldview at the time Which Was made up of heroes and villains the Muslims unfortunately being the villains That had to be wiped off the face of the Earth so that the Earth could continue So that was uh that was an interesting Documentary and it was an interesting Social experiment Uh what's it feel like to have All these People that hate you And others in the community people you Love With guns Threatening violence Basically that we don't want you here in This country on this Earth

Um It's not nice It's not great I mean it's um It's definitely a challenge but look There are challenges that we face as as Muslims Um being in the United States being in a Hostile climate there are different Types of challenges and uh I think what We've had to do as a Muslim Community Is see beyond both the guns and the Roses and think about who we are first Because frankly Uh Islamophobia exists in different forms And from different sides And we try to use this as an opportunity To instill in our young people Not just the sense of belonging but a Sense of purpose Ah Do not be intimidated And in fact show them the best of your Islam live your life because at the end Of the day The goal that is sought through Intimidation is silence And so we have to carry ourselves as Proud American Muslims we don't have to Impress anyone And we don't need to relinquish an iota Of our faith To coexist with anyone uh we are Satisfied with who we are we don't we

Don't see a contradiction Between Our place of residence and our religion Our nationality our religion we don't See that as a problem right so that's a That's something for them to work out Not for you to work out that's what I Would tell young Muslims that continue To live your faith fully And demonstrate the beauty of it and do Not let the ugliness of the world Consume you But for those young Muslims what would You say how they should feel towards the People that hate them The natural human There's a desire still to have anger to Have A resentment to have hate back at the People that hate you The Quran says respond to that which is Evil with that which is better and you Will find that Sometimes your enemy will become your Close friend So respond with that which is better Doesn't mean be passive sometimes there Needs to be a demonstration of strength Sometimes there needs to be a Demonstration of uh Ignoring a people altogether But ultimately you can't let the way People treat you shape who you're going To be in the world

And so that's why I say we have to look Beyond the guns on the Roses we have to Look Beyond The hostility of our enemies and the Temporary and opportunistic embrace of Some of those who claim to be our allies And be us and treat the world and treat The people of this world in accordance With your standards Not with theirs so don't teach them You know or don't let them teach you bad Character you teach them good character So live your life and and uh live your Faith beautifully And let people see the beauty of it Through your through your being and do Not let their ugliness Consume you but at the same time Sometimes you got to give people room to Express frustration To to say that this is unacceptable to Have demonstrations of strength And I think that those things don't have To all contradict each other Yeah what do you think about these kinds Of protests are not allowed in many Parts of the world what do you think About One of the most do you directly Personally painful manifestations of the First amendment of The People's right to Freedom of speech into protest to say Hateful things Uh you've been at the receiving end

Of the worst of it What what what do you feel about this Particular Freedom that uh that's at the Core of the founding of this country Look I think that you have to take it Away from the text and look at it within Reality let's be real uh would Muslims Be able to protest in front of churches With guns on a weekly basis in this Country I don't think so so that's a Deep pragmatically speaking there's a Hypocrisy too what's major hypocrisy Major hypocrisy see free speech Is an ideal that is weaponized against The Muslim Community and against other Communities In such a hypocritical way you know you Take for example some countries in Europe you know let's kind of move away From this and look at the hypocrisy of Uh a place like France where the Caricaturing and the portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him in Derogatory ways will be used as the Hallmark of free speech but Muslims that will caricature uh macron Or challenge some of the values of France the supposed and trying values of France Will end up in prison and end up Deported and so here in the United States there's a great hypocrisy I don't Think that uh places of worship should Have armed protesters in front of them I

Think that that poses a security risk I Think that it's not okay Um And I think that free speech is Weaponized against the Muslim Community And often is held up as this great value But really to attain very lowly things And uh is often to our detriments Yeah just even watching that documentary It's hard to put into words but somehow That Does not capture What maybe the founders intended Right what uh what I would see is the Great idea of the freedom of speech Um I don't know what the solution to that Is I think taking it outside of words maybe That requires a community a cultural Pressure to be better Uh So it's not about the law it's more About just the cultural pressure what Isn't isn't okay because there's Something deeply wrong about that kind Of hate Uh yeah because it was dehumanizing Other people there here in America That there are Americans Yeah I mean it's it's we have to Interrogate The foundations of our country when our Country is in such turmoil and such

Chaos uh no country in the world has the Mass shootings that we have no country In the world has Some of the polarization that we have we Have to interrogate that and say what it Is that we're doing wrong that's leading To that And I think again that it's it's Reaching a point where it's Unsustainable Um if we don't do better And try to solve Some of the Rifts right now that exist In our society Then we're going to end up in you know In a place where we might we may not be Able to climb out of this What do you think about you mentioned The Muslim ban what do you think about Executive order 13769 titled protecting the nation from Foreign terrorist entry into the United States often referred to as the Muslim Ban or the Trump travel ban it was an Executive order by President Trump that Was in effect from January 27 2017. For just a few months until March 6 2017. Um What was this executive order and what Was its effect on your life and on the Life of the Muslim Community and just The life of Americans well it was Disgraceful it was a tactic that was

Used Uh you know at the time Um very similar to the whole build the Wall rhetoric Um to to play to a particular political Slogeneering and carrying out those Types of acts against the Muslim Community Uh you're not going to face uh much Opposition typically in any meaningful Way that would that would be politically Costly When he rolled it out at the time there Were people in flight on their way to The United States That were held in airports around the Country Children elderly people That were held in the small rooms and Treated awfully before being put back on A plane and sent to where they were There were families that had medical Needs that were never able to Come together he Specifically targeted Muslim countries To play to that idea of a complete ban Of Muslims which he knew was not Feasible at the time Now personally you know Dallas had the Uh the largest amount the largest number Of uh detainees uh in the airport we Have one of the largest airports in America and We took to the airport

And we stayed there for a few days Uh stayed overnight it was one of the New York Times pictures of the year when We did our prayer because when we had to Do our prayer it wasn't just Muslims That came to the airport it was many People that came to the airport of Different Fates that were outraged by What they had seen so when we do our Prayer uh there was a protest chant that You pray we stay And so the airport had to make room for Us because like a thousand people that Need to have our five daily prayers So we would do our prayers in the Airport we waited we continued Until the detainees were freed at least Temporarily unfortunately some elements Of that legislation remained and it was It was an ongoing struggle but look what I'll say is that those are some of the More obvious manifestations of Anti-muslim bigotry But again there's hypocrisy on all sides Of the political aisle here in the United States There is islamophobia of different Flavors I think even the term Islamophobia can become contentious Because there are people that attack Us In different ways and that might not be As overtly bigoted but Nonetheless are infringing on our rights To be full American Muslims

And Muslims find themselves in a very Strange political place Where You've got one side that seemingly wants To annihilate you And another side that only accepts you If you're willing to assimilate But no one really allows you to be a Full-on American Muslim and so Muslims Find themselves in a very strange place Right now With all of the political sides with the Political parties what do Muslims sit Politically are they politically engaged In the function of the United States Where they find themselves political as A community so Muslims find themselves in an awkward Place politically that's the best way to Put it we are a religious community And so we don't find ourselves welcomed By the left which has a hostility Towards religion and most left spaces And most liberal spaces in general Because it's uh kind of religion has Many conservative elements right so the Muslim Community is in its nature Conservative for what that's worth right It's a conservative Community it's a Community that has certain orthodoxies And practices that Would make it disagreeable in its nature And its practice to many on the left and Many on the right just see us as a group

Of foreigners And a threat in that regard so Um we find ourselves in this awkward Place there's also the Presence of sort of the pro-israel uh Dominance of both parties the foreign Policy of both parties is detrimental to Muslims globally Um the securitization of the Muslim Community and the name of countering by And extremism unfortunately the Muslim Community has had both Republican and Democratic administrations just run over Its rights So we find ourselves kind of in this Awkward space right we are a religious Community that's also a minority the Racialization of the Muslim Community Sort of robs us of who we are and how we Get to engage them with uh different Platforms and different peoples around Us so we find ourselves in a very Awkward place is there in general a lack Of representation In places of power In politics I think representation is Everything I think that representation Can actually be detrimental sometimes Because you can have people that uh Represent you but that don't actually Represent your your priorities as a Community as a faith community so we Don't want to be tokenized as a Community right we want to be engaged

And engaged fully as Muslims and be Respected as American Muslims you know I Wrote something at the time actually of Muslim ban I wrote an article for CNN Called I am not your American Muslim I Am not your American Muslim Because we are not a tool of liberals Against conservatives Nor are we simply to be made out to be Your villain or your victim Where a people of faith Where people that have values where People that want to see our places of Worship Thrive where people that have Something to offer To this country to the people around us Of good But ultimately we want to engage And be engaged with on the basis of who We actually are not who you need us to Be right now and that's been the problem Uh that we've had so it's not it's not a Lack of representation as much as a lack Of authentic engagement You mentioned uh Daily prayer And If I may looking at the time this might Be time Um and uh if it's okay I would love it If you allowed me to Follow along at least in uh movement as You pray sure absolutely Thank you for allowing me to join you in

That uh Can you maybe describe What What does the prayer represent what is The actual practice of prayer like what Is the process like Sure so prayer is the central pillar if You will of Islam Um It is the life of the believer Um encapsulated In to a very specific Act of devotion That's done at least five times a day so There are different types of prayer There's prayer there's supplication so The the five daily prayers are called Salah which is the obligatory prayers And then beyond that there are voluntary Prayers that are done uh throughout the Day as well so you can pray before and After the obligatory prayers and then There are other times of the day that You can pray also and the best prayer Voluntary prayers at night in the middle Of the night because it's the time that You're closest to God Uh sincere away from the eyes of people Uh Just In the Still of the Night and You'd pray in a similar way with the Standing and the Bowing and the Prostration reciting the Quran and then You have supplication and words of Remembrance that you are to do Throughout the day

Um between all of that so when people Say do you pray five times a day I say At least five times a day Um what are the words this application Do they come from the Quran or do they Come from your own heart or do they Where do they come from so basically you Say Allahu Akbar Uh which means I'm going to kill you Right Or so they say right No God is greater you start off with That an expression of God's greatness And then you recite the opening chapter Of the Quran which is uh known as the First chapter of the Quran in the name Of God the most compassionate the most Merciful all Praises be to God the Lord Of all the worlds most compassionate Most merciful Master of the day of Judgment you alone we worship and from You alone we seek help guide us to the Straight path the path of those who have Earned your favor not those who have Earned your wrath nor those who have Gone astray so that's a translation of The first chapter the opening chapter of The Quran which is known as we recite That in every one of the units of Prayer Um and then after that we recite Something else from the Quran so some Other portion of the Quran and then we Say Allahu Akbar once again God is greater we go into bowing and in

Bowing we say subhanallah Subhanallah Which means glory be to God the almighty Glory be to God the almighty glory be to God the almighty and then you come back Up and you say God has heard the one who has praised Him And then the response is And To You O Lord belongs all praise And then we go into prostration and Prostration is at the heart of the Prayer And it is the most beautiful portion of The prayer and it is The most beloved position For a servant of God and that which is Most pleasing to God It's when you say at that point Subhanallah all glory be to God the most High all glory be to God the most high So while you put yourself in the lowest Position you acknowledge God being the Most high and the prophet peace and Blessings be upon him said that the Closest that a person is to God is when They are in prostration that is the time That your supplications are most Precious and beloved that is the time That you can cry your heart out that is The time that you really feel a sense of Great closeness and Devotion to God and As I was telling you earlier it's a time That your your mind is under your heart

For a change right the only positioned Physical position that your mind is Actually under your heart and you really Have a chance to pull your emotions out And to connect deeply to God it's the Prayer of all of the prophets uh Jesus Peace be upon Him is described even Biblically as falling on his face in Prayer and so it really is uh I think The most intimate moment that you get With God and the deepest part of the Prayer the word Masjid Which is mosque in Arabic means place of Sujood place of prostration so think of The rest of prayer as an introduction to That particular part of the prayer where You really immerse yourself not that you Shouldn't be immersed in your prayer Throughout but when you're in when You're in prostration that's where You're really closest and most connected To God so we do that And so some prayers are two units uh Well the first prayer of the day Which is Before Sunrise the earliest Prayer is two units Um the second prayer which is around Noon is four units and then afternoon Another four units and then the sunset Prayer is three units and then the Evening prayer is four units So each prayer has a different number of Units to it and some voluntary prayers That surround it when you come back up

You express also a form of greeting Towards God and channeling your prayers And your blessings towards God you Reiterate the shahada which is the first Pillar of Islam I testify that there is Only one God and that Muhammad is his Servant and messenger and then you read What's called Salah ibrahimia which is The abrahamic prayer so you send peace And blessings upon Muhammad and his Family and Abraham and his family Abraham peace be upon Him is really at The core of this religion and so at the Prayer at the end of the prayer you you Send peace and blessings and prayers Upon again both Muhammad and his family And Abraham and his family And then you have another chance to make Some of your own personal prayers and Then you say assalamu alaikum Peace Beyond to you in the mercy of God To your right peace be unto you and the Mercy of God to your left and that means Everything and everyone to your right Everyone and everything to your left so You imagine a congregation Uh when you're in worship right you're You're sending that to the angels and The human beings next to you your fellow Worshipers next to you And you'll even say you'll seek Forgiveness from God afterwards there's Supplications that surround the prayer And you will say

That oh Allah oh God you are peace and From you is peace unto you belongs all Glory and uh all praise almost to say That you received something in this Prayer that you receive a great sense of Inner peace and now you're spreading That right so as it really comes into You then you can give you can give to The world around you what you generate In your own heart And in prayer you generate a great sense Of Tranquility a great sense of peace The Quran says verily in the remembrance Of God do hearts find contentments And prayer is an exercise in the Remembrance of God Um that is again obligatory five times a Day No matter where you are so anywhere in The world anywhere you find yourself in Your life in in different life Circumstances and you are yeah so Outside coffee shop in the grass outside As it did a few days ago yeah uh so any Anywhere at all and that means airports Included given the context of our Previous conversation of Um Uh hatred towards uh people of Muslim Faith that means You probably through the practice of Prayer it attracts people that hate I've Attracted curiosity hate I've had people Walk up to me like hey man you're okay

You know in the herbs everything so most Probably these conversations of Curiosity and the opportunity to Actually uh talk about the values that You're upset and I try to make it a Point to tell people if I'm about to Pray in front of them so like you know In the airport let's say for example go To the corner next to a gate yeah and if There are people sitting there like hey I'm about to engage in a prayer I hope You don't mind they'll really appreciate The courtesy most of the time Um but no I mean any when those five Times come in and they're kind of Windows right Um we have to pray and uh That means at work that means at school That means when you're when you're Traveling although there are some Concessions that allow you to combine Prayers at certain times when you're Traveling for example But even then uh you're gonna have to Pray and Um I think that What that does To Bring you back to God No matter what you're doing It's actually you know you think of it This way you're in a meeting you're Engaged in something you're really Stressed out and you also have the

Ablution before the prayer where you Wash up wash your face wash your limbs And engage in prayer What it does for you And anchoring you in something more Meaningful When you are in the turmoil of a lot of Times what's not so meaningful Uh is incredible and so it's a gift from God And It is an obligation it's something that We have to do as Muslims But if you actually learn its Essence Then It can feel more like a joy than it is An obligation And then you're called to at night Especially again the night prayer is a Big part of who we are as Muslims waking Up in the last part of the night the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said That the the best prayer and the best Fasting was of that of David peace be Upon him so we think of David the Prophet David he's a prophet in Islam as Well I'm sure you'll ask me about about The whole concept of prophethood you're Hearing Abraham and David and others Right so David peace be upon him he said That David used to fast every other day And he used to pray the last third of The night he'd stand up and pray in the Last third of the night

So fasting uh is a big part of Who We Are And praying in the last third of the Night Meaning before that early morning prayer You know waking up if you can at 4 a.m 4 30 a.m 5 A.M And praying even for a few minutes Um there's something in the serenity of The night That can unlock a new uh a sense of Inner joy and peace that nothing else in The world can give you And again that pulls you away from all The turmoil of day-to-day life Uh if it's little things or if it's big Things you just pulls it pulls you out Of it to remember what is more important Than life so when we think about access In the last third of the night we're Taught that God says is there anyone Seeking forgiveness that I may forgive Them is there anyone seeking Refuge that I may Grant it to them is there anyone Asking for anything that I may give it To them so whatever you're calling upon Him with at that time he's responding to You In a way that befits him And so it's closeness as well And you would think that you sleep less So You're probably more cranky but Um the happiest people in the world are

The people that stand up in that last Start of the night and pray I mean There's a deeply meditative Contemplative Aspect to it that I that I think Um Probably strengthens your sleep if Anything else once you return to it There you go see people underestimate That there's a great sage in Islam he Was asked he said how come the people Who pray at night are the most beautiful Of people and they're they're fresh in The day it doesn't make sense and he Said because they secluded themselves With the most merciful and he dressed Them in his light And so there's a there's a there's a Beauty that it generates Um and that's why we're to Aspire to That really as as Believers that's kind Of your highest thing like don't just Pray the five prayers if you can pray at Night pray at night and connect at that Time well a good friend of mine Andrew Huber Mike who's in your scientist from Stanford he's a big he's upset he's a Amazing podcast called humor and lab but He's also a scholar of sleep Uh among many other things and so I Would love him to he probably knows the Signs on this too There's probably good signs that Actually studies uh uh practicing

Muslims to see what Um the the benefits to sleep I would Love to actually Um see what that says we we have amazing I don't want to cut you off yeah we have Amazing hygiene because of how much we Have to wash up for prayer and it's Great for our limbs as well right Um you know and that's one of the added Benefits right it's good for us worship That we do is not torturous it's Actually good for us however the core Objective of worship has to remain that It's something you do out of worship and Something you do out of an a sense of Obligation gratitude to God not because Of those things like I'm not gonna fast Because it's good for my health but I Know it's good for my health to fast but It's pretty cool when you walk into I'll Share this with you there is a man he Was a a scholar from Turkey an Islamic Scholar from turkey and he had visited Us in Dallas and he was 108 years old And he could still pray bowing and Prostrating I mean his Limbs and you think about That like someone at that age still Being able to do that so I'm sure it's Good for your limbs it's good for your Health good for your gut good for your Sleep good for your mind I think the Mind one is is there really one we've Been talking about and that's really

Really the really the big one and in the In the small day-to-day psychological Sense in the big philosophical sense of What it means to be a human being I we Should also mention that And during the prayer as you've Explained you should face Mecca So what is Mecca and Was the experience of visiting Mecca Like So Mecca is the home that Abraham peace Be upon Him built along with his son Ishmael peace be upon him And it gives the Muslims a unified Direction of prayer it's sort of at the Center geographically Of who we are and When we pray towards it Is not that It's not that that's the only place that You can supplicate turn towards but it Gives us a unified sense of direction it Gives us a unified sense of Prayer So Mecca is Our Qibla it's our place of Direction When we are alive and when we are dead So actually we pray facing towards it When we die we are also faced towards it In our Graves And it kind of gives us that unifying Spirit so this is uh the valley of Becca Also in the Bible spoken about the Valley of Becca And where other biblical Scholars would

Also mention Mount Perrin And it is the place that Adam uh in the Quran Adam peace be upon him first had a Place constructed there as a place of Worship From the Angels towards God and then When Abraham settles Hagar and Ishmael And Mecca They build this house of worship And that is where the gushing Springs of Zamzam are mentioned where God sends an Angel To Give a miracle to Hagar and Ishmael that They can sustain themselves from as They're not left in the desert so Ishmael being the firstborn son of Abraham Is given a place and there's a story and A history that's going to unfold from That place of Mecca and then Isaac is Born peace be upon Him 13 years later And there's a story and a history that Comes from that but ultimately Mecca is The center Mecca is where we turn Towards for prayer Marquez where we Perform the pilgrimage the Hajj Pilgrimage Once in our lives at least if we can Physically and financially if we find Ourselves capable we at least perform The Hajj pilgrimage once in our Lifetimes but there are other Pilgrimages throughout the year you can

Go At any time of the day any time of the Year you will find people that will be Performing The Pilgrimage An iteration of the pilgrimage in Mecca And it's an incredible practice it Really is a place where You feel like you're no longer in this World I mean it's it's it's incredible So we all go there donning what's known As the Aram Garb so the men will wear Uh just these white uh garments which Are Resembling or they they resemble the Garments that we will be buried in And whether you're a king or a prince or A peasant and you know in classical Terms whoever you are whatever Distinction you have you're all the same And the women will wear a simple garment As well so you go there you relinquish All of the pretensions and concerns and Superficial barriers and distinctions That exist in this life and we do what's Called tawaf circle around uh the Kappa Symbolically putting God at the center Of our lives We do seven rounds between Safa and Marijuana the two mountains where Hagar When she once ran between those two Mountains with her baby Ishmael looking For water trusting God was provided for We too Go between the two mountains of Safa and

Marwa to express that trust in God and To follow in that way and these are Ultimately these are the rituals that Abraham himself engaged in Um In our tradition and the prophet Muhammad peace be upon Him engaged in And so we engaged in the exact same Rituals and there are Divine wisdoms to Them that we may not even be able to Unpack and reflect upon But it really is in that place where Um you find The most beautiful Global expression of Islam you see people from all over the World people that don't speak the same Languages people from all sorts of Backgrounds and they're all doing the Exact same thing and in a matter of Seconds when the call of prayer comes In a matter of seconds Two three million people get arranged in Perfect rows for prayer right and it Just it looks like this perfect Optical You know uh vision of just Beauty when You see people in unison standing bowing Prostrating And you don't know who the person next To you is And that's where you know you you know Malcolm X you read about the history of Malcolm X when he wins a Hajj that's Where his entire world view shifts Uh not just his previous

Uh baggage but The dream that he then had the Possibilities that he saw for people to Be able to overcome some of the false Distinctions that we have Uh race and class And to see God as one and to come together And worship him alone and also seeing Each other equal participants in that Worship if you could just Linger on it a Little bit I think you've mentioned that Malcolm X Has been in part misunderstood Um what are some aspects of him that are Misunderstood well I think reading his Autobiography is Extremely important for anyone that Wants to understand him right so you Read him his own words Malcolm lived the tragedy of being A young disenfranchised black man in America who went through all of the Difficulties that were posed In a 1950s America Uh towards him I mean he went through The system and it was Awful for him and he had to pull himself Out of that and make himself into An incredible orator an incredible uh Leader Uh that suddenly had a pretty empowering Vision and a calm and and nonetheless Courageous but a calm presence to him

Uh and was able to bring together people Especially uplift black people in America to believe in themselves Uh young young men in America in America And in prisons in particular will read The autobiography of Malcolm X and see Hope for themselves to come out of the Darkness Of You know being imprisoned not just by The bars in front of them But also by what they thought to be Their own worth prior to that moment and So Malcolm climbs out of uh that and he Goes through multiple phases so Malcolm dies as an orthodox Muslim Who does not believe in the superiority Of One race over the other Finds great Tranquility in the practice Of the Hajj Um great clarity and I think you read His letters from Mecca And he talks about his his change his Transformation in particular and it was A process uh it's it's a process for him But he inspires the likes of Muhammad Ali to become the person that he becomes And inspires many other people Uh till today To really See themselves and see the world Differently in light of that Understanding of monotheism So he was deeply a man of faith and

Throughout his life the nature of that Faith has changed as he grew as he Interacted with I would say a cruel society that he was Living right right Uh you mentioned he inspired uh Muhammad Ali who I don't think it's an Overstatement to say is probably the Most quite possibly the most famous American Muslim from America because you Maybe make a few comments as an athlete Yourself uh What impact uh did uh Islam have on Muhammad Ali's life and what and vice Versa what impact did he have as a Leader as a religious figure uh on the Muslim Community I think Muhammad Ali his quotes on on Islam are precious because he talks About how he sought the wealth of this World and he found it in Islam he found A greater meaning and he attributes Everything that he became uh to his Faith Uh his sense of strength and commitment The willingness to take a stand uh For the truth When it was extremely unpopular On the basis of his faith and on the Basis of his integrity I think that he inspired people with his Confidence And His coherence I mean he was incredibly

Eloquent I mean poetic And just unwavering Seemed unbreakable so as Relentless as He was in the ring he was even more so Outside of the Ring the man could not be Broken And everything was stacked up against Them but he perseveres and he does so Then through Parkinson's And chooses to live a life of Of giving a life of service a life of Using his platform To bring up issues of importance and to Champion the rights of others so he Wasn't satisfied at any point in his Life would simply being a boxing great a Boxing champion He uses it for so much more And so he goes down as one of the most Famous Americans period of the 20th Century one of the most transformative Americans period of the 20th century not Just American Muslims Uh and a lot of people that loved him When he died Would not have loved him If they were around in the 1960s and 1970s You know they said they loved him when He couldn't speak anymore you know many Of those who celebrated him at the time His death Would have been his greatest opponents

At the peak of his career and when he Was taking the stands that he was taking Yeah he was fearless and part of this His faith was helping him take the Fearless stance but throughout all of it Given the strength I think he's also a Symbol of compassion through all the way Through all the fun kind of Yeah the poetic nature of who who he was In The Fearless nature who he was There's always like a like a deep love For for the sport And for Humanity absolutely and that's The thing right that was so obvious that Despite everything that had happened to Him He never loses himself neither to the Fame nor to the fear yeah he he always Stays himself he's authentic Um and you know when I went to his Funeral and it was one of the most Beautiful Things I'd ever seen because Everyone In Louisville Kentucky had a story with Muhammad Ali right the guy that he saves From committing suicide the school kids The the hotel shuttle driver the gas Station worker everyone has a story of Muhammad Ali in Louisville Kentucky And when he When he when he passes away Everybody comes out and stands in front Of their homes and they take the casket

And they drive around the streets of Louisville and he had this dream I'm Very close to some of his uh some of his Children Incredible people by the way uh just Incredible human beings And he had this dream that he shared With them that Um he was jogging around the streets of Louisville Kentucky And everyone had come out to wave to him And so he's running around jogging and And waving to everybody in the streets Of Louisville Kentucky then he gets to The cemetery and he says he flies into The heavens So his his dream and he had this dream Years ago I mean if you look at his Funeral It's such a beautiful You can't make it up it's such a Beautiful Moment where it seems to come to reality Because everybody in Louisville just Comes out and just Waves by says casket And then when he gets to the cemetery The gates close and He goes off to be with his Lord and we Pray that it's a good place for him So Muhammad Ali is probably one of the Great 20th century representatives of Islam Um for me personally at least My bias one of the great modern

Representatives is uh khabib Nurmagomedov who's a great fighter and a Great human being so you've gotten a Chance to meet him I should also say Your friends your good friends with a Lot of really interesting Muslim people I mean it's just it's such a widespread Religion there's just so much variety of Different people that are practicing Muslims so Um what uh does khabib represent what do You like about him as a Muslim what do You like about him as a person as Representative of the religion I think I Think Habib First of all he is a great person you Know humble person he's shown and now Islam as well kind of following in that They're really showing the beauty of Faith in their lives their culture their Values Um everything from the way that he Carried himself in a principled way Uh you know like like every Muslim kid Grew up in a public school cafeteria Before Islamic schools were a thing in The United States not eating pork for Example and kind of being the odd person Out so when he got a fighter and uh In in the UFC scene and doesn't drink Alcohol kind of maintains like a very Um Consistent principles Uh you know attachment to his religion

It really is inspiring growing up we had Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1990s basketball Who's fasting in the NBA I think Habib Was is that for a lot of people a lot of Young people today and and people in General and I think beyond that uh the Values How he honored his father And how he honors his mother And how he continues to put Family First That's a beautiful part of Islam that's A beautiful part of our value system We have a lot of emphasis on family Family is Central to Islam and his Honoring of his father was so beautiful And again what he's willing to do for His mother You know it's just so beautiful and I Think that we saw it frankly even with Morocco in the World Cup You know there was a lot of islamophobia In this recent World Cup episode you Know a lot of the criticism of Qatar While no government is beyond reproach Uh certainly no government is beyond Reproach but had very obvious blatance Islamophobic undertones and then with Morocco Rising being the first African Muslim uh Arab team you know to get that Far in the World Cup what did you see Beyond the consistent honoring of Palestine you also saw the honoring of The mothers every single time the game Would end they go into a prostration of

Gratitude so just like we prostrate in Prayer a prostration of gratitude and Then they go and they kiss their Mother's foreheads dance with their Mothers on the field hug their moms and Honor their moms that's Islam for you Khabib after his fight what does he do He prostrates Points up to the heavens it's God and Then he prostrates The whole Moroccan team beautifully Prostrates uh even when they lost they Prostrated out of gratitude they honored Their mothers So I think sometimes athletes are able To demonstrate some of these beautiful Values of Islam in a way that the world Can maybe see them in a different light The values of humility and the values of Love Love broadly but love for family and and Look how everyone around Habib talks About him right no one ever no one ever Says he's a jerk no one ever says he's Mistreated them they've all got stories Right and that's what a beautiful Muslim Does a beautiful human being you treat The people in such a way that all these Stories come out later of how good you Were to everyone that came into contact With you and Habib was that person uh he Is that person he does a great job of Treating people with a lot of respect Obviously no one is perfect right I mean

Imperfections are for everybody but I definitely think that um he did a Beautiful job representing His faith in those moments Um you know beyond punching people in The face that's kind of a different Subject Smashing faces not the Smashing faces Part the prostration part and the Humility I tell you man he's not humble in the Ring right he's uh he he would Maul his Opponents right but I mean as a Practitioner as a fan of the sport of All grappling sports for me there's also A beauty to the art of uh grappling and And the fighting sports but yes Um I think his again humility his honor Uh outside the cage is uh is exemplary And the money the fame the power hasn't Changed the man no not at all and that's That's actually I think the most Beautiful part when I met him Um I found him to be as humble as he is On screen and that's always very Endearing and all the stories of the People that have been around him for a Much longer time very humble man I pray For him honestly I pray for Islam I pray For that family Um that God keeps them grounded and Protected and together And that they maintain that beautiful Spirit because even if you if you just

Watch the lead up of to the last uh The last fight with Islam just the way They carry themselves their day to day You know they never relinquish their Prayers They never relinquish their family uh Ties the things that make them who they Are to be better Fighters because they Don't see That They have to let go of those things in Fact they attribute all of their worldly Success uh to that that faith and so you Know beautiful examples and I think that It's good for young Muslims to see Themselves in that and it's good for Other people to see Islam uh through That as well When you mention the Prophets you often say peace and Blessings be upon them yes Um what is that phrase mean is why do You say it is it to celebrate the people Is it is a constant reminder that these Are figures that should be celebrated Absolutely so it's part of our tradition That when we say the name of a prophet At least the first time in the Conversation we say peace be upon him And then afterwards it's still Praiseworthy to say peace be upon him so If you're reading an Islamic article and You see in parentheses pbuh Peace Beyond to him or peace be upon him When I was in high school I often tell

The story I wrote an article about Jesus Peace be upon him in Islam and Christianity And my teacher comes up to me and she Says you can't do that and I said what She like slams the paper on on the desk She says you can't say Jesus And I said no no pbuh peace be upon him So that's what it means and something That we reserve for the prophets of God And we honor them with So who is Muhammad So the prophet Muhammad peace be upon Him is the descendant of Abraham peace Be upon him through Ishmael God promises Hagar and Ishmael that he will make of Him a great nation And so there are prophets that are Descended from Isaac And then from the brothers of Isaac Comes The Prophet Muhammad And he is the final prophet of a long Line of prophets and we do not Distinguish between the prophets in Regards to Their role and so Islam has a very Accessible theology it's something that Resonates with A professor at an ivy league university And you know a person who maybe even Illiterate this idea of one God that Sent many prophets and all of the Prophets had a singular message worship

One God and respond to the messages of That one God through his Messengers So Adam Through Muhammad you have many of the Prophets that are mentioned in the Old Testament Moses peace be upon him being the most Spoken about prophet in the Quran in Fact Abraham Um Jesus peace be upon Him many of these Prophets that are familiar uh to people All of them are considered prophets and Islam the prophet Muhammad uh peace be Upon him being the last of them He comes at a time where there was still A lot of confusion About what the world had just Encountered in Christ in Jesus Christ Peace be upon him so you got to think About it this way that this is still uh You know he's born in the sixth century There is still great debate about who Jesus was the Council of nicaea happens In the 4th Century where you kind of Have a standardizing of Western Christianity but then you have Eastern Christians that are still maintaining Very different theologies and very Different conceptions of Christ There is no Arabic Bible at the time and He kind of brings together The message and the mission of all of Those prophets and it fits perfectly Into a singular string of thought

Where you don't have to reject Jesus Peace be upon him but Islam also is Staunchly opposed to the idea of a Trinity the idea of a begotten son of God That all the conceptions of the Messiah And there were many claimants of the Messiah prior to Christ peace be upon Him Uh none of them included an idea of Trinity or of him actually being a part Of God himself a begotten Son of God but Rather a Great and Mighty Prophet That would restore glory on Earth so he He really captures theologically or Rather we would say God captures through Him theologically A coherence and a unifying message of All of the prophets That there's only one God and that that God has sent Messages and scriptures To ultimately guide people back towards Him and that all of the prophets are Equal and the sight of God there is no Distinction between them And that's we are to live our lives in Accordance with the message as best Manifested by the messenger and so the Prophets are exemplary human beings and This is where we kind of sometimes maybe Have Um a difference you know someone will Say well

You know Noah did this and David did This as Muslims we don't believe we Don't hold many of the stories that have Been attributed to these prophets uh to Be true Um we don't believe that the prophets Are capable of major sins we believe They're exemplary human beings And that they kind of give us A manifestation of the scriptures that They were sent with of how to live Noble Lives and the most documented human Being in history is the prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him we know everything About him his family life His day-to-day the way he would greet You the way he'd look at you everything About his physical appearance It's documented in immaculate detail and Muslims have a standard that they then Seek to live up to With how to treat your family how to be In your community how to be in your Worship how to be in your social Interactions how to carry yourself with Your neighbors it's a full complete Guide book through his example Where we have the Quran which is the Word of God and then you have the Biography of the Prophet Muhammad peace Be upon him which is A living manifestation of that word that Has been documented for us to live by Until the end of time

So Muhammad If I may peace be upon him uh Is is really the yeah like you said the Manifestation the thing to be the Example of a good man yes example of a Good human being Is the Quran the word of God So the Quran and this is what Distinguishes the Quran in many ways uh From other scriptures so as Muslims we Do believe That God has sent divine revelation Prior we believe that the Original Scriptures Prior to the multiple versions and The changes and revisions throughout History The Original Scriptures that Were given to the prophets whether it Was the Torah To Moses or the Gospels Were all original Divine Revelations but They've been changed over time the Quran Is the word of God with a promise that He will guard it for all of time and It's probably one of the greatest Miracles because in 1400 years We have the Quran preserved through oral Transmission and through written Transmission And there are almost 2 billion Muslims In the world and they all recite this Book the exact same way and there's only One version of it and so when I'm Reciting the Quran if I say U or e or ah

Differently An Ethiopian Muslim a Chinese Muslim a Yemeni Muslim can correct me an Eight-year-old kid in any one of those Countries can correct me because they Will know that this is not how it's Memorized and so it was memorized from The start committed to memory in the Time of the Prophet Muhammad peace be Upon him and preserved in writing and Passed down and memorized by millions And millions of people around the world And it's 600 pages And you can't go to a city in America A city in the United States of America And not find at least one person or a Group of people that memorize it that Have committed it to memory and so There's an emphasis on committing it to Memory as well as understanding it and Applying it and practicing it as much as We can What are some Maybe Deep or insightful differences between The Quran the Torah and the Bible Well like I said so so you've got the Original Revelations of those scriptures But there are so many versions of those Scriptures and there are times Throughout history where there have been Changes just from an objective Perspective right uh What is the original scripture that was

Given to uh Moses peace be upon him and What was initially communicated to Jesus Peace be upon him those things Um have changed over time However there's still some truth that Remains even in those scriptures and so There are still things that line up Especially with the Old Testament and Islam there are still many things that Line up between the two The Bible as well the New Testament now Matthew Mark Luke and John it's it's Different because these are not uh Original Scriptures these are Testimonies that were obviously Collected Around the entire phenomenon of the Coming of Christ but the authors Themselves the biographies The documentation even of those original Testimonies and gospels what made the Cut in terms of being included within The gospels and what didn't because There are many gospels at the time in That sense is different from what we Believe was scripture communicated to Jesus peace be upon him Uh the Quran is different in several Ways but it confirms uh what came before It but it's the document and preserved Word of God to be recited throughout Throughout time so it confirms much of What came before it uh and it resides Amongst us and within us uh for for the

Rest of time and through it We honor uh those Revelations that came Through the prophets of old Because the essence the core of what Came through those Revelations is Preserved in the Quran and with us I Tell people this all the time that you Know the prophet Muhammad peace be upon Him introduced Uh Jesus peace be upon him And uh even Moses peace be upon him to Much of the world There are Muslims around the world that Are named ASA that are named Jesus there Are Muslims around the world that are Named Ibrahim Abraham Muslims around the World named Musa and they learned of These figures through the Revelation That came to the prophet Muhammad peace Be upon Him Noah Maryam one of the most popular names in Islam Mary peace be upon her whole Chapter in the Quran named after Mariam which is actually what I was Reciting in the prayer was the chapter Of Maryam the chapter of the story of Mary peace be upon her so the Quran Contains the stories it contains Um Legislation and law but primarily it was Revealed over 23 years so it actually Was coming in accordance with some of The events that were unfolding in the Life of the Prophet Muhammad peace be

Upon him The first 13 years of that was primarily Belief in God uh belief in the Hereafter And things that surrounded the court Creed of Islam and then legislation law Stories of the prophets uh came down in Accordance with the unfolding events as Well as prophesizing some of the things That were to come And speaking about some of the things That just happened and it is completed In the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon and memorized and then Communicated to generation after Generation after generation so that we Have it in its pristine Fashions now Billions of people yeah just all across The world all the different cultures all Memorizing the same words One of the pillars or maybe I should say One of the central practices is the Month of Ramadan uh what is the Importance of this month Um what is the process of it entail also So Islam has I think it'd be good to Maybe lay this out for people the the Articles of faith in the pillars of Islam so the articles of Faith are six Articles of faith and this kind of lays The foundation for the Creed of Islam so Belief in God belief in the Angels Belief in the messages belief in The Messengers okay belief in the day of Judgment and belief in Divine decree so

These are the six articles of faith Belief in God belief in the Angels Belief in the messages being the Scriptures belief in The Messengers Being the prophets belief in the day of Judgment and belief in Divine decree That's what you have to believe to be a Muslim you have to believe in those six Things right and then you go to The pillars of faith the five pillars of Faith Are sort of or they make up the Structure of those articles of Faith the Practice of the Muslim so To be a Muslim you testify That there's only one God worthy of Worship and unconditional obedience and Then you testify that Muhammad is the Final messenger of God That's the first pillar it's the actual Testimony entering into Islam then it's The five daily prayers Practicing the five daily prayers at Least as a bare minimum obligation the Mandatory charity which is called the Zakat that Muslims have to give at least 2.5 percent of their retained earnings Uh to specific categories of Charity Then it is the fasting of the month of Ramadan The mandatory fasting of the month of Ramadan and then it's the Hajj if you Can do so the pilgrimage if you can do So once in your lifetime so those are

The five pillars of Islam so Ramadan Is a month in which Muslims engage in This incredible spiritual boot camp Now fasting can mean different things to Different people uh when we fast we fast From before sunrise to sunset for an Entire month and there's no food or Water period And no intimacy as well so you would Abstain from intimacy with your spouse As well in that time no food or water no Bread no nothing you don't eat or drink Even if you live in Texas where you get The where you get these long hot days in The summer and of course Islam is on a Lunar calendar so it moves every every Year about 10 days earlier During that time you restrict the intake To the body so that you can focus on the Intake of the Soul So instead of being focused on Consumption constant consumption you are Consuming words of remembrance words of Prayer you're to be hyper conscious of Not doing anything that would Spiritually validate your fast just as You would physically so just like you Won't eat or drink you certainly won't Engage in sin though you shouldn't Engage in sins throughout the year but Uh you know you're not going to speak Words of evil you're not going to gossip Or slander you try to fast with your Eyes not look at things that are not

Praiseworthy so you try to engage in a Wholesome Act of disciplining yourself With a conscious of consciousness of God But then channel that into engaging the Soul instead exercising the soul instead And what you'll find with Muslims and This act of God Consciousness where they Reduce the consumption as they become Far more grateful for the blessings of God because throughout our lives we just Take sips of water we eat what we can we Snack When you're abstaining from that you Become so much more grateful for that Sip of water so much more grateful for That bite of food so much more aware of The one who provided those blessings to You so much more aware of those that Don't have the same access to those Blessings that you have so you also Develop a sense of empathy for the poor That don't have access to those Blessings on a regular basis that can't Help but fast And on top of that again spiritually you Are engaged in extra reading at that Time people are listening to more Lectures people are uh engaged in extra Acts of devotion extracts of Charity Muslims are most charitable in the month Of Ramadan so you just feel great and It's hard to explain to someone that Doesn't do it because it sounds like Torture to people right what in the

World are you doing You know at four o'clock on a hot Texas Day not eating or drinking you're Probably dehydrated and cranky have a Caffeine headache and you probably can't Wait for this month to be over but in Reality you talk to Muslims their Favorite time of the year is Ramadan you Feel amazing you feel absolutely Incredible because you taste a different Type of consumption you feed your soul For a change and in that process You connect with God in a way That you simply could not without the Distractions of the day-to-day Throughout the year Now it's good that it's one one month of The year because it's it's honestly Physically taxing right so It gives you a chance to experience it For that one month but then you're Encouraged to fast a few days of the Year as well outside of the month of Ramadan to keep that connection What are the hardest parts that maybe For people outside of uh uh the Muslim Faith Um Yeah we'll be curious about Well I think the hardest part is is Physically is it physical or is it the Spiritual I mean uh so as Ramadan goes On Um your acts of worship increase so in

The last 10 nights of Ramadan Um there is an intense Period Of prayer throughout the night so every Night in Ramadan we have something Called the Tuttle we prayers the title We prayers are about an hour hour and a Half of prayer outside of the five daily Prayers so the mosques are packed every Night and Ramadan Um the last 10 nights of Ramadan people Will engage in prayer throughout the Entire night so the only sleep that You're probably getting Is actually a couple of hours in the Morning before you go to work So it's everything sort of put together The disruption of schedule the Disruption of diet the physically Exerting yourself But The way you feel Is unmatched I mean you feel So fulfilled Through that deprivation and it's Actually the point you know it all ties Back together when you talk about even Tests and trials that God does not Deprive us of anything except that he Gives us something greater in return And you do not deprive yourself of Anything for the sake of God except that He gives you something greater in return And so fasting is an exercise in

Patience that unlocks an infinite sense Of gratitude and a greater connection to God So many people predict that Islam will Surpass Christianity as the largest Religion by the end of the century Uh by the number of its adherents and Practitioners what responsibility does That play some people like you who is a Religious leader who is somebody who Teaches who grows who cares for the Community for the Muslim Community but Actually for all people Well I think what that means is that we Have a responsibility to Teach and live our faith in the most Beautiful of ways not Its values and ideals are not just Expressed by you but experienced by Everyone around you And so what I often teach my community Is that look of Muslims in the area what Are they What are your neighbors experiencing of You what are people experiencing of you You know and there's there's statistics To Muslims being uh most charitable Communities in America uh we're a Community of great service a community Of volunteering a community that greatly Enriches the world around us I think that oftentimes people forget The history of Muslims you know being at The Forefront of contributing in the

Areas of medicine and Science and all Sorts of ways education really changing The world through their commitment to Faith But on a deeply personal level You know It's important for us To be Representatives Of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon Him in a way that makes islamophobia Impossible I you know I I tell people this that It's very hard you know you mentioned The United States of hate uh the Documentary and uh the one man the Protester who met me and sort of changed His world view It's very hard for People to believe what they hear about Islam if they see you live it Now that does not excuse bigotry that Doesn't excuse the prejudice against Muslims but it's important for us To sort of take it as a responsibility As Muslims To channel our faith in the most Beautiful of ways God describes faith in the Quran in the Chapter of Abraham peace be upon him as A tree with firm foundations The Firm Foundation being the testimony Of Faith the Oneness of God so the tree Of monotheism with firm foundations and Then branches high in the sky providing

Shade to everything and everyone around You And producing fruit at all times the Tree of faith of a Muslim is not Seasonal so you should be producing with Your faith at all times good works and Things that people can can actually Experience and I think that Muslims have Historically contributed to the world Around them And I think that Muslims today are still Contributing to the world around them But I think that we can never do enough Of holding ourselves accountable to the Message that we hold dear to our hearts And trying to be the best Representatives of that message and of That Messenger to the world around us So not only are you a a religious leader In the Muslim Community but you have a Lot of friends Uh who are from different religions uh You have a lot of Jewish friends As we've talked about a lot offline Um and we'll probably hopefully get a Chance to talk to as well here but on That topic let me bring up um another Tragic event that was just a little bit Less than a year ago in the In This Very Community here in Dallas there was a Synagogue hostage crisis Um can you describe what happened and What was your experience like through it And afterwards and

Um what were the bad things you saw and What are the good things you saw in the Community The Colleyville Synagogue situation it's kind of surreal That we're coming up on a year of that But I'll actually tell you exactly what Happened that morning Um I was out with the family And that morning I kid you not that very Morning I was telling my kids the story Of Muhammad Ali talking that man out of Committing suicide off the roof and I Showed them the YouTube video my wife Pulled it up on her phone kids were Sitting in the back seat we talked about That that video And talked about that importance of Helping people We also went to visit a loved one in the Cemetery that day and we went to Breakfast so we're out as a family that Day right and there's a lot of meaning That's sort of coming together For us and a lot of discussion deep Discussion we're having as a family And then some of our community groups we Get this message that there is a Synagogue that's been taken uh hostage A rabbi and his congregation taken as Hostages and Go to this Facebook link and it was the Feed of the synagogue and you could hear The gunman shouting

And it became apparent Um very early on that it was a man that Was claiming to be Muslim that was Holding them hostage Now all these synagogue massacres all These places of worship were not Attacked by Muslims right this is A different type of situation but My first instinct was Like all that happened this morning was Not random So I told my wife and I told my kids I'm Gonna go down there Uh it's a Colleyville Um she was very supportive obviously There was a moment of shock And like kids were like wait what and I Said look remember what we talked about This morning Um we can't be indifferent to the stuff We we still go back and revisit that day You know like it's crazy how it was all Falling into place it's not an accident Right So I dropped them off at home and I Started to drive to Colleyville I called the um Irving Police Department And I asked them to call the Colleyville Police Department So that they could kind of know that I'm Coming down there I called Some of the faith leaders in the Community to see if they could put me in

Touch with those on the ground So that I wouldn't get shot when I Showed up there And eventually I had to wait out outside Until I got clearance to come through And to just offer whatever support I Could pastoral support Um support with trying to free the Hostages of the synagogue at the time it Was operating out of a church right Across the street from the synagogue Um A day long just wondering you know what Was going to happen Looking at the family of the rabbi at The time wondering what was going to Happen I'm trying to just be as supportive as I Possibly could at that time Thankfully uh they all got out in the Evening And I think that You know Looking back on that day Like my wife actually asked me I said Would you have done it differently and I Said no I really wouldn't because I Think that that Things happen sometimes you've got to Act on your good instincts sometimes Right when you talk about like being Calculated I think sometimes Were calculated when we shouldn't be and

That's when that good Instinct comes in Where you're called to do something else So what did it feel like to be a Muslim In a situation like that I mean did you was there were you a Human being were you a religious Yeah I don't practitioner I don't I Don't see I can't I can't separate Anything about myself in that situation Right so When I had to pray I had to pray To help people out to give people words Of comfort To try to appeal to the senses of Whoever I could at the time I didn't see myself as like uh a guy Trying to Trying to show a particular part of Islam in there I just saw myself as Someone that was trying to help a family Get their their husband and father back Right and so it was more of just like That part of me was was there You know you can you can kind of see Yourself right this is the irony of it When Christ Church New Zealand happened Uh that was kind of our worst nightmare As Texas Muslims because we've had armed Groups in front of our mosques Threatening to do what that man did in Christchurch And so when you see a wife and kids Um wondering if they're going to get Their their dad back

You kind of see yourself there and so I Just saw myself in that situation what Would I want people to be doing for me In that moment what would I want people To be telling my family in that moment So that's really where I went to and That's really where where I dug into and I prayed a lot that day a lot a lot for The right words for the right actions What I could do to just help What are the lessons now a year later That you take away from that day and the Day so many lessons just Don't be indifferent Don't be indifferent to the suffering Around you even that's distant from you Because it's somehow related to you so Just don't be indifferent So you you're proud that you stepped up And you went there and then yeah look I Don't I don't think um I don't think I did much I'm being Really honest this is not me trying to Be humble here I don't think I did much I think I did what I was what I was Called to do Um I wish that it never happens right as a Whole but I'm glad that the relationships that Have been built over time uh came into Being in that day right we could call Upon people that we knew call upon each Other and as a community where they come

Together you know Dallas has been Through a lot a lot of pain But we've come together through a lot of Pain as well so it's it's kind of one of Those things where we're United in our Pain you know when you suffer together Uh you build you build certain bonds Together so Dallas has been through a Lot as a community Um but we've we've come together through A lot as a community Yeah the thing about violence and War it Destroys it caused so much suffering but It also sort of brings out some of the Best aspects of human nature and unites People it's uh it's an interesting way How our human civilization functions Well that's the beauty that you don't Just want to see but you also want to be You know we're living in a climate where There's a lot of that right so how do You how do you actually uh Get through that and actually Not allow yourself to succumb to that And be another voice in that Polarization It seems that throughout history and Still in the world today Religion has been a source of some of The of a lot of polarization a lot of Conflict even War Um why do you think that is Listen I think at the essence of it As always some sort of political

Instability That leaves behind a brutalized Population And vulnerabilities that can be Exploited As I said in the 20th century With the bloodiest Century that we've Had to date Where does religion fall in any of that Where does religion fall in the isms Where does religion fall in the world Wars Where does religion fall and and much of That even when we talk about things like The Crusades remove the Islamic framing The Crusades the Crusades were they Really about religion uh the Mongols and The destruction of the Mongols was it About religion Myanmar and the rohingya today is it About Buddhism so I think that these are Essentially political issues political Causes where you have people that rise Up and that use religion to disguise Things that are far far far from Religion and if you want to manipulate a Religious scripture you could turn any Book Any Scripture into a violent scripture If you have a violent Aim so I think That that's where you find people Manipulating versus manipulating Religion Uh to justify sick ideologies

That are based And thrive in political instability so These are fundamentally political Geopolitical conflicts not religious Conflicts absolutely look when you talk About a group like Isis Islam has been in Iraq for a very very Long time Iraq has been bombed by now five Consecutive presidents or four it's been Bombed into the stone ages there is no Political infrastructure it's Devastation and destruction and Desperation as a result of that Many of the old Saddam Loyalists and Saddam's regime was was a secularist Regime are now heads of Isis right it Just moved into that when you create That type of Chaos You generate an environment where groups Like Isis are bound to rise out of And so Islam did not you know cause this people Didn't wake up in Iraq one day and say Hey let's create a group called Isis Because Islam tells us to All right Iraq was bombed into this place And we have to not just free religion From the responsibility from having to Bear the responsibility Of much of the hatred and violence but We have to interrogate The political instability that was

Caused Were we Justified As Americans these are a taxpayer Dollars Were we Justified With what was done in Iraq do we even Know what was done in Iraq and Afghanistan These drones that drop using our tax Dollars under Democratic and Republican Regimes And kill Thousands of innocent people in weddings In Yemen and Somalia Are these Justified when you think about Dehumanization Can the average American name a single Victim of the Iraq War Is there a picture that comes to your Mind is there a person absolutely not Because that's the dehumanization Now I often talk about Dr Martin Luther King Jr his progression As a faith leader in America as a Political leader in America Dr King was Deeply unpopular when he took a stand on Vietnam and he mentions how first he had To see Vietnam Through the lens of the soldiers because Many of the soldiers that were lost American soldiers right and that was That was a crime that they were sent to Fight a war that they should not have

Been sent to fight and there was an Injustice that was done towards them he Said but things really changed when he Started to see it from the other side of The bullet when he started to see the World through Vietnam through the Vietnamese child And that's where he resorted to Breaking The silence that's where he changed his Tune because we dehumanize our victims So much that they're not even relevant To our discourse until they become able Villains To our story And then now they're attacking us Because they hate us now they're blowing Us up because they hate us their Religion tells them to do this to us What have we allowed to be done to them Using our tax dollars In our name Right so I think that we have to Interrogate the political chaos that was Caused not just not just free religion From the groups that were created but What was done to those countries and What continues to be done in many of These places yeah when um The The Pride that people had about America where everybody came together After 9 11 and there was all the American flags That was beautiful to see but then you Have to transfer that and I wish all of

Us Americans could go and see the Daughters that would lose their parents The parents that would lose their Daughters and sons because the bombs Dropped Um the the thousands the tens of Thousands of civilians that died Um in Afghanistan and in Iraq because of The decisions made In the name of politics like if we just Met those families and if you if we if We empathize with them and just put Ourselves in their place Uh it's impossible not to feel hate For America for everybody I mean I I Visited Ukraine and spoke to a lot of Ukrainians and they said um You know there's there's loved ones that Are Russians before the war but now all They have is hate And uh if you ask many of them will they Ever forgive not not not the regime Not the soldiers will they ever forgive Russians they many of them say never And that never feels like it's a Generational never Um I mean look You think about this you know if your Grandparents were wiped out in a drone Attack your parents Your brothers your sisters all of your Loved ones and you're missing a leg and An eye And the world does not take you into

Consideration you'll never be seen or Considered in the halls of Congress or Discussed What are you gonna grow up with right But the thing is is that we should not Be speaking about this only from the Standpoint of oh shoot they're going to Grow up and hate us We should be thinking about what was Done to them and hate that Despise that that it's ugly you see when People carry out a terrorist attack They're not considering The lives of the civilians in these Places so those that perpetrate the 9 11 Attacks are not seeing The thousands of people that they killed The human beings the Lives Many of whom Are Muslim by the way actually no one of Them was a very active Muslim and Islamic circle of North America I mean They didn't see those stories right When you drop a bomb On this many people when you drone People and you say oops collateral Damage We were looking for one person killed 40 People and there's no count no names Nothing that can be recalled in the American memory That's a problem a fundamental issue With how we treat the rest of the world Right so

I'm an American I I think that I'm Responsible to the extent that I have to Critique these policies and I have to Try to you know challenge America to Deal with the world differently And when I go overseas When I'm around Muslims in the Muslim World right in the Middle East and in The Muslim world You know I have to I'm speaking as a Palestinian American Muslim who grew up In south Louisiana I've got a complex Background here right a lot of Experiences here that I'm grateful for Because they all contribute to Uh who I who I am and who what I know And what I've been I think they're all Enriching I wouldn't relinquish the Palestinian part I wouldn't relinquish The American part and I certainly Wouldn't relinquish the Muslim part But it's helping people consider What they're not seeing and when you can Dehumanize entire groups of people To where you can reduce them to chalk Casualty counts and not be able to Recall a single story Then you have to take a step back and Ask yourself what are we becoming Right what are we becoming not a single Victim of Afghanistan or Iraq millions Of people not a single person Can the average American Conjure in their head

If you apply This to a very difficult topic of Israel And Palestine Speaking of which right You have been critical of the policies Of the state of Israel but as we've Mentioned very supportive of Jewish People you have a lot of friends rabbis And Jews in general here in Dallas and Across the world Uh what is the difference to you in that Part of the world between politics and Religion so in this case Zionism and Judaism uh both terms broadly defined Both terms broadly defined so I say that Because those terms There's technical definitions and There's how they're popularly used and So you have to be kind of sure just like We said with islamophobia these terms Are they become politicized so just Generally speaking I think Zionism Has to do with the with uh with politics And Judaism has to do with the religion It's a great complexity like to a lot of People like wait a minute right and you Got to take a step back and wonder why There are so many Zionist anti-semites In America And there are so many anti-zionists who Are far from being Anti-semites anti-zionism that are Opposed to the ideology that are opposed

To the implications of it Look uh I think that it's fundamentally Secular Um when you think about it there is an Ethno supremacism there is I am the child of of Palestinians that Were forcibly displaced from their land I've never been able to go to where my Parents my grandparents are from I've never been able to see that land I've never been able to access that I Have cousins that I'll never be well I Shouldn't say never inshallah God Willing I will need them but that I've Only been able to speak through a phone Face time zoom Um I think that It's important for us to separate Criticism of Israel's policies From anti-Semitism in fact it's an Injustice It cheapens anti-Semitism when you throw Every person who is opposed to Zionism Or opposed to Israel's policies and the Bucket of being anti-semites It's it's wrong it cheapens it it Doesn't do justice to it And I think it's important for us to Have a meaningful conversation about America's support for Israel listen There are terms That are important here so I'm gonna Throw out these these big terms right Apartheid

Occupation Ethnic cleansing these are terms that Are legal terms There are objective thresholds here For apartheid occupation ethnic Cleansing The threshold of apartheid has been Crossed according to Multiple the most respectable human Rights organizations in the world these Are the organizations that you will Champion and that you will use and every Single other conflict to justify your Own policies But that threshold of apartheid has been Passed according to Human Rights Watch According to Amnesty International According to the Harvard Law review The threshold of apartheid has been Crossed there's a legal terminology There two sets of laws for two separate People you have a displaced people that Are forcibly Being removed that are being treated Differently that are stateless that are Undergoing daily humiliation that live Behind an apartheid wall that live under A different set of policies that are Routinely bombarded that have lost their Ability to free movements that have lost Their ability to access to basic Necessities of human life there are Legal definitions here I don't see how Any objective human being can read those

Reports on apartheid and the threshold Crossed for apartheid and walk away from That and say that this is just Jews and Muslims that don't like each other There's a legal definition here Occupation When Israel was created in 1948 You will find many Jews who are opposed To Zionism and I think this is important You know to talk to Jews who are opposed To Zionism and they are many Uh that will say that we were told that It was a land without a people For a people without a land The problem with that was there were People there Our ancestors 750 000 Palestinians Expelled in the nakba and many Palestinians that have been removed and Harassed and that are treated in Horrific ways and the occupation is Expanding it is in the legal occupation The settlements are still expanding And the United States enables that Occupation with its funding with its Unconditional support unwavering support Of Israel And it does so in a way that completely Undermines any of its claims To being a beacon of freedom of the in The world because it is in plain sight Now that the world can see what is Happening in what is happening in Jerusalem what is happening with these

Expanding settlements everything that Flies in the face of any claim to Wanting a peaceful solution the children In Gaza when I talk about dehumanization The children that were on the face of The New York Times which is historically One of the most anti-palestinian Newspapers in America the faces of the Children of Gaza America And many parts of the world are now Seeing it We have been saying for a very long time This is apartheid this is an occupation This is an injustice the world needs to Check it hold it accountable South Africa which experienced apartheid Nelson Mandela Desmond Tutu all of those That fought apartheid in South Africa Said that Palestinians are living under Apartheid and that the same strategies That check apartheid in South Africa Need to be used to hold Israel Accountable for apartheid with the Palestinians It's impossible for us As Palestinians To Simply say That we should give up on this cause All the odds are stacked against us But when you have you know videos coming Out of the Israeli armies you know Spewing skunk water Skunk water sewage water on worshipers

Leaving in aksa Um Far-right leaders now taking the Government And the so-called only democracy in the Middle East prohibiting a Palestinian Flag being raised anywhere around American reporters Serena Palestinian American Christian reporter Palestine-american Christian reporter One of the most prominent journalists in The Middle East Shot in the face Plain Sight And All America could say was all the American government could say was if it Turns out that it's indeed Israel that Israel is responsible for the death of An American journalists then we will Hold them accountable Nothing not a peep It was a shame To see that happen and it just Solidified to us that whether it's a Democratic president or a Republican President unfortunately the support for Israel Is enabling it to continue to wipe out The Palestinian population From its historic lands and so We see that happening and I'll say this As well People ask me about the Abraham Accords I say you know you are

Talking about faith between are you Talking about peace between communities Of faith and protecting communities of Faith why are you opposed to the Abraham Accords I think that the name of Abraham Should not be used and I wrote an Article called why I opposed the Abraham Accords the name of Abraham should not Be used to justify arms deals that only Further disenfranchise the abused Population of the Palestinians where you Know you have quote unquote Muslim Regimes making peace with Israel and That's being used against the Palestinian people who are only further Disenfranchised from having a voice in Their own fate For the sake of American Arms deals and Security and economic benefits It's despicable it's repulsive talk to The people Speak to people on the ground there see What's happening with your own two eyes And think about the Injustice where Our tax payer dollars are being used To suppress the people and what legally Meets the definition by every objective Standard of apartheid of occupation of Ethnic cleansing and it's ongoing and It's happening in real time and it's Becoming more blatant With a regime now that's Unapologetic of Even expressing What the policies have already done

And that is the removal of a people uh Forcible removal of a people because The government knows that the United States support is unconditional Gave hope that Jews Muslims and Christians in this land will Live in peace one day together Have a basic respect for each other's Humanity Look This isn't a religious conflict I think That's fundamentally one of the problems So even the question is not the correct Question it's not the correct question This is not a religious conflict yes Religion is invoked yes there there are Religious elements But Uh there are many Jews That are opposed to what is happening Right now towards the Palestinians many And I would I would recommend You know serious discussion with even People whose perspectives have grown Peter bynart being an example Uh Rabbi Simone Zimmerman uh started if Not now Bait to slim an Israeli human rights Organization that also classed it as Apartheid recently there are many Jews That are opposed to what is happening Right now Palestinians are also not exclusively a Muslim population Sharina Morocco was

Christian There are many Palestinian Christians That are also being denied entry into Their historic churches and that are Completely bewildered or or uh Absolutely lost in regards to why American evangelicals have this Ironclad Support for the occupation and have Ignored the plight of Palestinian Christians Of course I believe Muslims Christians And Jews can coexist Uh Of course I have hope because I have to Have hope as a person of faith But as much hope as I have I think There's a great sense of urgency for People to open their eyes Learn what's actually happening on the Ground read the reports Stop letting these commentators and These uh these companies that Are able to generate propaganda own the Narrative there are objective standards Here there are objective measures of Oppression that need to be considered Here what's happening to Gaza is one of The greatest atrocities of our time Learn about it right I tell people to Just watch the vice documentaries for Example the mini documentaries I'd sent Them to you as well inside the battle For Jerusalem I mean think about it a Guy from Long Island New York

Can fly to Israel Right Fly into Tel Aviv And walk into a home that's been Occupied by families for generations and Throw the people out under the full Protection of the military there And spit on them Historic homes And when people come up to me and say We're opposed to islamophobia where Post-islamophobia but they support that I tell you're not opposed to Islamophobia how can you be opposed to Islamophobia when you Traffic in the same framings and Uh dehumanization That enables the viciousness towards Muslims here and Palestinians over there That they do not deserve to be treated Like equal human beings like full human Beings and that based on historic claims A guy can fly from New York into a Historic neighborhood in Jerusalem and Kick out generational families with Military guns next to them what does That sound like how is that how's that Normal right and so I think that if People take the time to read people take The time to investigate Then they come to this conclusion Themselves that this is unacceptable And that you can't put and this is one Of the problems with the framing of

Israel-palestine is that you're equating Occupier and occupied you're equating The two sides of the conflict and it's Not a conflict it's an occupation there Is such a disparity of power here That you cannot equate the two sides how You know you can't you know Malcolm X Would say you clip the bird's wing and Then fly and then blame it for not Flying as high as you do you can't you Can't do that to a people and just Equate them with their occupier it's an Atrocity it requires us to challenge it And I'm hopeful At the current movement of Muslims Christians and Jews and people of all Faiths that are saying enough is enough That thresholds have been crossed here That this this is an atrocity that Cannot continue you know This is very personal to me because this Is happening now What I anticipate and this is what America did this is what Nelson Mandela Actually predicted with the United States what I anticipate is that 10 Years from now 20 years from now every American will say how could we have Supported this And this was terrible and will pay Symbolic you know homage to the Palestinian cause But there are people now that are Clinging on for dear life

Access to their places of worship access To their generational homes Right now at this very they're they're Children that are in detention and There's a Bill in Congress to just stop I mean Wherever you stand on this issue child Detainment Child detainment child detention Should be a red line right congresswoman Betty McCullum has put this bill on the Floor of Congress he can't even get that Passed right just to just to at least Censure Child detainment by the IDF So People need to look into this deeper They need to Consider the human element of this And consider the urgency of it as well With this new with this new regime it's Only going to unfortunately get get much Worse in the immediate term and so we Have to do something about it If I may ask you for some advice for a Reason I'll explain maybe in a little Bit uh or maybe I should just explain Now which is I think Because you've talked about islamophobia Because you've been at the center of So many catastrophic events because you Sort of jump into the fire uh to try to Help people you've been attacked a lot Just in general you've been under stress It's just you're you're not immune to

Stress so Um a part of me wants to ask Foreign Just how psychologically difficult it's Been and where you draw strength and Would you advise if the opportunity is There For a person like me for silly kid in a Suit To go to that part of the world and take Seriously conversations I would divide It into two categories there's leaders And there's people The leaders are sort of these Uh political entities that have their Interests but they also have power And they want to hold on to power and Then people are just regular people that Have families that just want to Um have basic rights and freedoms and Continue to love their families to Pursue different uh jobs and careers and Lies that they can flourish and so on Those are very kind of different Dynamics of play and if given the Opportunity to speak to leaders for me Would you advise I do it or not and when I say leaders I mean leaders that Would make the case The pro Zionist case And the anti-sinus case and in both Cases I would make it a very challenging Conversations for both of them unlike Today our conversation today you're an

Inspiring incredible person I'm a huge Fan of yours you've spread so much love To the Muslim Community here to the Jewish Community just everybody loves You but uh not everybody none yes that's True not everybody that's true Harry Potter a lot of people love you yes uh But this was kind of an inspiring and a Positive conversation it wasn't very Challenging Now although we did tough touch Challenging topics and he did Exceptionally well there but I would do Very challenging conversation with those Leaders in that part of the world is That a bad idea All right well let me tell you from now First and foremost the first part Because I don't want to lose the first Part of your your conversation is it Psychologically stressful very very Um But when you're When you're a person of faith and you Believe that Good work will always be rewarded And that doing the right thing will Always be rewarded eventually You're able to weather that storm Um Quite a bit So your wife told you Um Right that's the second thing I was

Going to mention is honestly supportive A supportive family you know my dad's 80 Man and he's been through a lot he was Born in 1943 before his five years Before Israel was even created he was Born in Palestine He suffered displacement he has been Around the world and somehow built Himself up to be a distinguished Professor of chemistry an author an Inventor Um you know grew up uh taking on some of The most difficult challenges and was Just always a man of principle I always Admired my dad being a man of principle And like he just tells me man stay the Course stay the course Don't Be Afraid Don't back down I have a supportive Family I have a supportive wife I've got Supportive kids so I have amazing people Around me that keep me grounded for sure And ultimately obviously faith And also I'll say this slander doesn't Stand what do you mean by that when People slander you and it kind of comes With the territory of a public figure Um it's not going to stand throughout Time because eventually any sincere Person will find the truth And the only people that will Regurgitate that will continue to do so So when I get portrayed as An anti-semite Um

Because of my strong takes on Israel and Challenging Israel and then I and I will Continue to do so It takes just people in gosh like we Know him what are you talking about you Know so slander doesn't stand at least With the people that are important to You it might reside on the internet it Might have great rankings and social Media Bots that give attraction but also Psychologically difficulty of course yes It is difficult it's very difficult and It's hurtful especially when it comes From quarters that you would hope that It doesn't come from But you know you take a step back you Re-evaluate you lean into your faith and You lean on the people that are closest To you and then you keep going You learned the lessons uh could I be Doing something better could I be doing Something different could I be saying Something better could I be saying Something different are the noble causes That I want to achieve am I am I doing Justice by those causes uh how do I grow Out of this right you become wiser Through these things as well Second part of your question though About what you should do if you're going To talk to people talk to people From a place of inquiry I would say talk To people more so than leaders and Especially some of those who have been

Erased from the com from the media Commentary Benjamin Netanyahu gets a lot Of air time Uh you know here in the United States Um he's uh Well spoken you know he speaks perfect English he's an American as well Um I would challenge him you know on on Some of the things that he has said and Done he has an ongoing corruption case I I think that Um I think he's a fascist I think that He's a a person who has done much evil I Think that he has a lot of blood on his Hands and I think that one day he will Be prosecuted for that Uh but I'd say talk to people on the Ground And people that have been erased talk to The families that are being displaced I Don't care about the political Leadership I'd much rather you talk to The people on the ground in East Jerusalem that have been displaced Um the families talk to Palestinian Christians talk to the sister of Sharina Lina Lina abacla who has been who was Extremely disappointed and let down when Joe Biden went to the region and did not Take her calls did not meet her which Was an absolutely disgraceful move he Should have met with her she's the Sister of an American journalist who was Murdered in Cold Blood talked to Lena

Abu bakla talk to Mitri rahit Mitri uh Interesting person for example he's a Lutheran he's the head of the Lutheran Church in Palestine he comes to Dallas Sometimes and talks about the plight of Palestinian Christians I think if you're Talking to people in leadership you know Obviously there are some that will be Able to represent themselves in English You know is a very eloquent person for Example I don't know if you're going to have any Luck getting into Gaza but I'll pray for You if you do but obviously you know if You want to talk to everybody you got to Talk to everybody man so well and I also Want to say this very important when you Say whitewashing because I've heard this A lot so also Ukraine and Russia there's An interesting line between whitewashing Which is something you definitely should Not do and a deep empathy For A large number of human beings it's a It's a really tricky line to walk and I Also disagree with you about well I Think I don't know if it's a Disagreement but I think I disagree About leaders I think I agree 100 that The most important people are the people On the ground okay but I think those are extremely important People to understand not just as Leaders But as human beings too

And in many cases to have a challenging Conversation but from a place of empathy From understanding a human being so if You plan to talk to right wing the Current leadership of Israel My only request to you Is talk to the victims themselves not The Palestinian Authority talk to the Victim I know you want to right so I and I appreciate them yes to the victims Themselves talk to those people that are Being thrown out of their homes and Subjected to the Daily humiliation go to A checkpoint and walk through the Checkpoint the way that a Palestinian Walks through a checkpoint and tell me That's not apartheid walk through that Checkpoint crammed in in cages and tell Me it's not apartheid so uh I think You're a very sincere person uh I think You're gonna you're gonna do your best Uh I'll be praying for you some of these Such things are harder than others but Yes I feel like we're in the middle of a Negotiation and we've come to a point Where we both agree everyone deserves to Be everyone not everyone deserves to be But I think there's Great Value and Benefit I let me say I agree with you And and hearing people even uh tyrants Um hearing them so that you can properly Deconstruct and decipher what you're Hearing but just think of the voices That don't get hurt third and a lot of

Times what's been done to the Muslim World is and what's being done right now In the name of the Abraham Accords What's wrong with the Palestinians the Other Arabs are making peace with them Let me tell you something those regimes That are signing on to the Abraham Accords the people are not happy but They're terrified Of challenging those regimes so if you Go talk to the leaders of some of these Countries that have signed on to the Abraham Accords And that are you know in some Twisted Way Making this about religion and peace You can greatly skew The narrative To where Palestinians are just an Inherently disagreeable people that Don't want peace They just want to live in their homes They just want to live as full equal Human beings they want the things that Everybody everybody wants And they're only being further Disenfranchised in the name of peace now Because voices are being Amplified In the name of peace that are Suffocating voices for justice Laughs He said hope As a man of Faith you have hope yes what Gives you hope about

This part of the world and our world in General when you look across and see so Much conflict so much division happening What gives you hope I I think that if you look through history We have been through points as a world Where We almost We're not going to exist anymore if you Lived in the time Of the Crusades a few lived in some of These darker moments of history World War One World War II you probably Thought you weren't going to come out of This as a world I have hope in God And I have hope that godly people people That are devoted to God and people of Righteousness Can shift things With his help Um I also believe that younger people I Hope they'll be different I think younger people Uh Hopefully or using the word hope a lot You know you might hear inshallah God Willing Um We'll see the path that we're heading And Will seek to disrupt This Bleak trajectory

And bring it back to something else So here's the thing we live in a time of Hyper exposure that hyper exposure could Paralyze you or it could Empower you it Could Make you completely shut down and say What's the point of even trying To help these people out why even talk About the Palestinians you got these People here the uyghurs the rohingya you Got what's happening in Honduras Guatemala El Salvador Brazil South America Africa Ethiopia Somalia it's so much and it's it's it Can be overwhelming to a person who Cares But you ultimately realize That the difference that you can make Can become a much greater difference Even if it's after your lifetime I'll Tell you actually a story that I Remember the first time went to Syria Syrian refugee camps And you deal with people And this deeply human way uh for me the Most clarifying parts of the world are The refugee camps It's where I feel the most Clarity in Life About what I'm supposed to be doing in Life you go to the refugee camps and Then after you interacting with these People and you know maybe giving a few People some trailer homes and some food

And something to sustain themselves some Coats and blankets you drive out of the Refugee camps Back to where you're staying And the camps get bigger and bigger and Bigger and bigger and the people get Smaller and smaller and smaller and Smaller But then you realize That it might be that that small section That I touched Is going to be the change that affects All of them What's going to happen to that 12 year old boy That has seen The horrors of this world And that is absolutely committed To uplifting his people and bringing About a change Being responsible for the plight of his People and so when I look at any Section of Devastation in the world You never know which part of it that You're going to touch that's going to Change everything by the grace of God by The help of God So you keep trying to do your part you Know the prophet Muhammad peace be upon Him said that the most beloved of Deeds To God are the consistent ones even if They're small the small Act of Charity That small smile that small act of Kindness that small prayer might go a

Long way if he blesses it so keep Chipping away chipping away chipping Away Do not be paralyzed by the scale of the Division just uh Chip away at it Chip Away small step at A time that's like I suppose all of us Can do that young people can do that Just one person at a time try to help Yes absolutely absolutely Omar you're an Incredible person you're an inspiration You know uh I think you mentioned uh you Came to Dallas for a podcast and instead You got a friend so it's a it's an honor To be uh your new friend and uh I think It's time to go pray absolutely yeah I Hope it's okay that I join you and uh at Least in movement in prayer thank you so Much I appreciate you coming down it's Been an absolute pleasure Foreign Allah Allah Allah All right So much I'm sure you don't want to come back go Round two yeah Thanks for listening to this Conversation with Omar Suleiman to Support this podcast please check out Our sponsors in the description and now Let me leave you with some words from Muhammad Ali

Impossible is just a big word thrown Around by small men who find it easier To live in a world they've been given And to explore the power they have to Change it impossible is not a fact it's An opinion impossible is not a Declaration it's a dare Thank you for listening and hope to see You next time

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