ISNA 2008 - A Time For Change

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Event Name: ISNA 2008 - A Time For Change
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 5/21/2019
Transcript Version: 1

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bismillah ar-rahman rahim allah humma
salli wa sallim wa barik ala sayyidina
muhammad wa ala and he was like you send
him sistema what I hold our our forward
and in that Villa Nadia Darlene a
hundred first of all it's always
difficult being the last speaker because
all the preceding speakers have said
pretty much everything that that I
wanted to say I can only really echo
some of the sentiments that were said
earlier by the speakers but before I do
that I want to talk a little bit about
the theme a time for change and the idea
of looking back and reflecting on isne
when I look back an effect on ISNA I
also have to look back and reflect on my
own experience because I've seen it's no
grow but I've also grown with isne I
know the first time that I came here to
the ISNA conference many years ago in
1993 which was a time when I look back
on it I was far more assured about
myself than I am today I think that I
have a lot more certainty about Islam
that has grown but the certainty that I
had about my own understanding I think
has diminished Islam has become a much
vaster thing to me it's become much
bigger than I understood Islam when I
first began speaking at is now but the
Internet leadership and I think I know I
can speak for certain with doctors say
you'd say it that he must have thought I
was crazy but he was also very welcoming
to me and I want to take one moment of
remembrance of our dear brother dr.
Michael Kahn rahim allah who really was
the reason why I ended up speaking at
it's not the first time that I did
because he was somebody and he said to
me once he said I don't agree with a lot
of what you say but I know you're good
for Islam in this country and so even
though he had his own reservations about
some of my attitudes which I think were
probably justified at that time but
despite that he was also very
encouraging I think when we think about
is sneh and prior to Isla that was the
MSA we have to think about these young
men and women that came to the shores of
this country from foreign lands
like Pakistan like India like Egypt
Syria Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim
countries Libya I could go on Morocco
these young people that came to this
country this was a country where there
were not places to pray there were not
places where people could go perform
jihad Juma was held in garages Juma was
held in little rooms in people's houses
and this was not that long ago and these
were men and also there were women and
if they weren't openly there and many of
those pictures that were behind those
men there were women involved in this
also but this was a project that has
grown it is now 45 years and like imam
zain said earlier that coincided with
some very extraordinary events in the
history of this country dr. Martin
Luther King's speech at the Washington
Monument when he did call America to
task asking America to live up to its
Creed to fulfill its promissory note
that it had made to the people so long
ago and had yet to fulfill when he
America to task there were people in
this country that began to listen there
were seeds planted and changes began but
it's been a long struggle and I want to
remind all of you who are immigrants and
I want to remind all of you who are
children of immigrants that the
struggles that preceded this immigrant
generation were immense struggles there
were struggles of people that gave up
their lives people like medgar evers who
Edwards who which Edgar's who was shot
in the back by a white supremacist a
cowardly act indeed people like Rosa
Parks people that we saw in Imam Zetas
presentation that preceded us great
sacrifices people that were were chased
by dogs vicious dogs people that were
watered down with fire roses chanting we
shall overcome not too long ago I heard
that song and it was a song that I
learned as a little child because I
marched with my mother when I was about
five years old I was marching in the
civil rights marches with my mother and
I remember that song we shall overcome I
do believe deep in my heart one day we
shall overcome this was this was a dream
in the hearts of people in this country
that things could change
and those people struggle there were
people that lost their jobs there were
people that gave what money they had
they were people that proved their
resources that drove to Selma Alabama
and Mississippi drove down in cars to
march with dr. King people that
sacrifice this is the the legacy that
we are inheriting and the American
Muslim community I think is a new
chapter in the challenge of calling
America to task I believe that we are a
historic community and that we can help
America become America become the idea
of America that the founding fathers
talked about when they put in the
preamble of the Constitution in order to
form a more perfect union acknowledging
that the perfection was far from there
but this was the desire of these people
to form a more perfect union and so I
believe that it's the challenge of the
American Muslim community to call
American people to task it's the
challenge of us as a community to remind
the people of this country you have to
live up to the Creed's that make this
country a country that has some of the
highest principles in human political
history the creed that all men are
created equal we have to call Americans
to account this is a creed that
Americans say that they believe and live
by all men are created equal we have to
call Americans to account this is a
country that declares liberty and
justice for all
liberty and justice for all
not liberty and justice for the people
of the Beltway not Liberty and gestures
for George Bush and the people in power
not liberty and justice for all the
banks that are being bailed out with
American taxpayer dollars not liberty
and justice for the American people
alone that liberty and justice for all
liberty and justice for all reflect on
that meaning for all we want liberty and
justice for the people of Palestine we
want liberty and justice for the people
of Kashmir
we want liberty and justice for the
people of Georgia the people of Georgia
who have a right to self-determination
we want people of Georgia right now who
are suffering the egregious and barbaric
attacks of a country that knows it has
no right being in Georgia but George
Bush sounds deeply hollow when he
condemns the acts of the Russians
against the Georgians where we have our
own problem in Iraq and by the way if
the people in America don't know that
Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam Iraq is
Arabic for Vietnam it's a mistake that
has to be changed this is what we have
to call this country to task we have to
remind this country and we have to be
courageous in raising our voices because
we have every right to raise our voice
we are people at this country we are
Americans we are people of the United
States of America we have to remind
these people that this is a country that
declares as a motto a pluribus unum out
of many one out of many people one
nation out of many creeds than people
out of many states a United States this
is a creed that America says is a motto
he pluribus unum out of many one Thomas
Jefferson said that he wanted a country
where the Jew the infidel the Mohammedan
and the Hindu would have rights the Jew
the Hindu the Mohammedan and the Hindu
would have rights in this country the
worship as they see fit this is what
America was about from the very
inception but it has yet to realize its
own ideals it has yet to realize its own
ideas and so we're calling this country
to task but as American Muslims we also
have to call our fellow Muslims to task
because we do
community that is not living up to its
ideals we do our community that is not
fulfilling its highest principles we're
a people that believe in the voice while
kulilin se hos nos speak good to people
speak beautifully the people are we
speaking beautifully to people are we
speaking beautifully to people are we
talking about our fellow Jews our fellow
Christians our fellow citizens of this
country in the best way we can criticize
there's nothing wrong with criticism
when it's constructive but if we
denigrate and demonize then we are not
following the book of God this is not
the book of God so we have to call the
Muslims to task we have to recognize
that we live in a country that has a
just wage law and yet I know of no know
some country that has a just wage law
there are Muslim countries in which
people are in bondage are in next to
servitude that is nothing less than
this is happening in Muslim countries
today and there's much you can see all
of the research that has been done in
this area so we have to call the Gulf
states to task they're building a
civilization there but if they're
building an on the blood of Beng galleys
if they're building it on the blood of
Pakistanis if they're building another
the blood of Indians and not giving them
a just wage for the work that they're
doing then it's wrong they're building a
society on oppression and there's no
good in societies built on oppression we
have to call the Muslims to task we have
to ask the Muslims are they living up to
the Creed now you mean oh I have to go
Mahathir you hit belly up he
Eponine FC he none of you truly believes
until you want for your fellow man what
you want for yourself are we living up
to that Creed do we want death and
destruction on people that we perceive
as our enemies the American people are
not the enemies of Islam the American
ministration currently has gross
injustice 'as in the Muslim world and we
condemn them with all of our heart just
as many Americans who marched in the
cold who marched in rain and sleet and
snow to say not in our name we have to
condemn those acts of the American
administration but also recognize that
those acts are not necessarily
representative of the American people
there are many good people in this
country that are that are losing sleep
over the people that are dying in places
like Afghanistan in places like Iraq so
we have to recognize that the American
people and the American administration
are two different things now that brings
me to an important point I personally
believe that it is extremely important
that Islam does not become democratic or
Republican or libertarian or independent
Islam transcends political parties Islam
is not the party of Republicans Islam is
not the religion of Republicans it's not
the religion of Democrats it's not the
religion of Independence or any other
political group it is the religion of
God in our belief and it is the religion
that was offered as a gift to humanity
Republicans are welcome to it Democrats
are welcome to it Barack Obama's welcome
to it so as mr. McCain and so as Sarah
Palin if I got her name right
then I'm welcome to it and if they don't
want it that's fine too because we can
live together it's a big world there's
not so room for everybody
paradise is a big place I'll do harm to
some are watching what oh it's bigger
than the
in the earth there's plenty of room in
paradise I want everybody to get in
there personally I want everybody to get
in there I don't want I don't want to
like a private palace that I've reserved
for myself I want to see everybody in
there we have Muslims that think
paradise is like a convention center you
block it up for yourself and no other
group can come we have Muslims that
believe that this group or that group
they have their Convention Center and
they can't wait to the day of judgement
to watch themselves go in and everybody
else says for members only for members
only does not paradise in my
understanding so we have to recognize
Islam cannot be a party religion Muslims
voted many of the Muslims voted for the
Republicans eight years ago and then
were shocked by what happened welcome to
American politics
welcome to American politics some of you
are learning it takes a little time
we're on a learning curve politicians
always make promises that's why they're
politicians the ground of politics is
the ground of religion is principled we
don't compromise religious principles
politicians will always compromise the
ground of religion is principled
religion is there to speak truth to
power it's to remind politicians you are
public servants and I want to remind all
of you get out and vote we have two
months there should be a mass vote of
Muslims there were there was a time when
I believe that voting was not permitted
there was a time I know that Imams aide
and others but our understanding of his
farm has grown just like you even at the
early Imams if you look at their
opinions in the early part of their
lives there were not necessarily the
same opinions at the end of their life
Imam attak lived 91 years his early
opinions are not considered the
normative opinions of his method because
he himself was growing in his
understanding and knowledge Imam Shafi
changed many of his positions when he
went from Iraq to Egypt and prior to
that he changed them when he
to Iraq from from Medina the nature of
human beings on earth is growth and
change we all change but I believe that
voting is not only necessary I believe
that we have an obligation to be part of
the political process in this country as
a religious person in this country that
has a voice that impacts people I would
not normally like to put my to put my
two cents in to add my bean to the hill
of beans that's already out there but I
feel that this affection that is coming
up is one of the most important
elections in American political history
that's my personal belief and because I
believe that I feel it's necessary to
remind you of a couple of things one I
believe that there were two candidates
in this political election that I would
have really wanted to see I wish I could
have brought them together and forced
them into one political person on the
right it was Ron Paul because I believe
that Ron Paul I believe that Ron Paul is
a sincere politician who actually cares
about the American people
I believe that his economic policies are
the soundest economic policies that are
being articulated in the modern American
political scene his economic policies
are consistent with many of the
principles and the economic
understandings that Islamic scholars
have articulated in their books
unfortunately Ron Paul did not have the
popular support necessary but he did
gain a considerable number of people and
we have to recognize that on the Left I
believe the Dennis Kucinich was a
sincere and and true politician that
actually cares about the American people
and I can say
that Ron Paul on the right and Dennis
Kucinich on the left I wouldn't mind
either one of them being the President
of the United States that's how much I
trust integrity and and sincerity but
unfortunately neither of them are going
to be the president of the United States
and now we're looking at two candidates
and I'm not speaking in the name of ISNA
because this has no political position
so it's not can get up and do a
disclaimer afterwards it's not has
nothing to do with some of the speakers
that get up and talk but I want to say
four years ago I asked people not to
vote for George Bush and I'm glad that I
did and on the DOJ. 
I'm going to be
proud of that request and I hope that
it's in my Meezan of hasanat I have
never supported more I do not believe in
the war in the modern world I am totally
against war I am against war in all of
its modern manifestations because all I
see is human suffering when I see war
and therefore I want to end to war we
forget John McCain is a military man his
father and his grandfather were military
men John McCain laments the restrictions
that were placed on the bombing in
Vietnam and believes that Vietnam would
have been more successful had America
had a freer hand at bombing of people
that already lost almost two million of
their people during the Vietnam War
beginning with the French aggressions
against them and ending with the
American aggressions against them
Vietnam is a blemish on the history of
America and we have many blemishes we
have our triumphs and we have our
tragedies Vietnam is a tragedy no matter
how hard these some of these
conservatives have tried to resurrect
that period and give it some kind of
positive spin but Barack Obama is
opposed to the war in Iraq and for me
that is enough of a justification for
preferring him Oh
John McCain because the war in Iraq is
one of the most unjust wars in my
estimation in human history there are
over a million Iraqis dead but I concur
with my dear brother
Iman say that that Afghanistan which is
pushed tuned for Vietnam Afghanistan let
me tell you something about Afgh