On Tuesday, September 17, 2019, the Muslim Students’ Association, in collaboration with 33 campus units and 11 student organizations, hosted Imam Omar Suleiman for a keynote speech at the MLK symposium event, Malcolm & Martin: Intersecting Visions of Justice. Imam Omar was joined by UM’s own Drs. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer and Stephen Ward for a dialogue and Q&A session. The focus of this event was advocacy, allyship, and the intersectionality and global nature of social justice.
The event program can be viewed at bit.ly/mxmlkprogram
In this speech, Imam Khalid Latif gives an excellent reminder of how the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gave everyone in his society value and importance. No one was ignored or left behind, and it is our duty to do the same and take care of those around us.
The equality of all human beings, races and nations before Allah is highlighted in verse 11 of Surat Al-Hujurat, where Allah says that no race should look down on any other race and that the only thing that places one person above another is, taqwa (consciousness of Allah) and good deeds. This unseen quality that is only known to Allah is what makes you superior before Him. As Nouman Ali Khan explains, the verse singles out women who mock other women and treat them as inferior. Such a societal attitude betrays a spiritual crisis and can even breed hatred, animosity and even war, between nations.
One of the biggest issues facing Muslim Americans today is Islamophobia. All around us, Muslims are targeted simply for being Muslim, making it incredibly hard for the youth of our generation to practice their faith comfortably. Allah ﷻ tells us in the Quran, “وَلاَ تَهِنُوا وَلاَ تَحْزَنُوا وَأَنتُمُ الأَعْلَوْنَ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ” “And do not grieve and do not be sad, for you are the higher ones if you were believers.” How can we get Muslim youth to have strength in who they are, without needing to run away or hide?
It is often said that racism is America’s “original sin.” In 2013, we mark 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years since the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s momentous “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Yet race remains salient in American public life. This was never more evident than in the impassioned reactions to the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida last spring and the acquittal of George Zimmerman. How is religion a force for racial reconciliation? How is religion involved in maintaining racial division? Does 11:00 on Sunday morning remain, as Dr. King lamented in a 1968 sermon at the Washington National Cathedral, “the most segregated hour in America?” As immigration and changing demographics have reshaped the religious landscape, how will Christians relate to their neighbors of other faiths? We will study important stories of shared history, theological similarities and differences, and aspirations for social justice that both Christians and Muslims share as communities of faith. Religious differences provide fertile ground for animosity and misunderstanding. Over the years, both Muslims and Christians have dealt with extremists who distort the character of true belief. Significant, intelligent dialogue and the development of authentic friendships across religious lines are key to deepening Christians’ and Muslims’ faith. Recorded on
Imamr Omar Suleiman reminds us that as Muslims we must speak the truth in the face of injustice and stand up with those who are oppressed and in need. In this particular case he tells us the stories of many individuals who were murdered due to racism, bigotry, etc.
From being singled out at the airport, to facing racism when going about our daily routine, hate crimes are on the rise against Muslim women. It is also clear that racism is impacting other marginalized communities as well. What impact is bigotry having on our community’s collective psyche? How do we go beyond surface level “wonkiness” and build a community committed to antiracism work for all people?
The precious advice that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gave humanity in his last Sermon (The Sermon of Farewell) shows how much Islam values and appreciates the concepts of social equality, brotherhood, individual liberty and mutual cooperation as a guiding light for humanity fourteen centuries ago. Join us in covering these beautiful principles and discussing how we can apply them to our daily lives.
Despite all the uniting factors Muslims have, our American Muslim community is divided over ethnic, social, sectarian, etc. lines. We were not able to reap the great benefit of our diversity but were caught by it.