NEighborly Faith Dialogue: Hamza Yusuf and Eugene Cho

Transcript Details

Event Name: NEighborly Faith Dialogue: Hamza Yusuf and Eugene Cho
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 4/24/2022
Transcript Version: 1


Transcript Text


ght I'm gonna hit broadcast and we'll be live are you guys ready to go do it alright okay everybody I know a
lot of you are just joining right now as you are joining I am going to really
quickly just introduce myself and then we'll jump into a an icebreaker question
my name is Kevin singer I'm co-founder director of neighborly faith our organization is really interested and
excited about how we get Christian conservatives in in France ship and honest and authentic friendship with
people of other faiths and primarily Muslims a group that has been a bit
misunderstood by our community of evangelicals and how can we better our
dialogue and increase our understanding and appreciation of one another but
again as people are trickling in I'll start with an icebreaker question before we do official introductions and that
icebreaker question is this what has been your go-to activity or hobby maybe
to calm your anxiety in this season or just to keep you entertained during this
time and Eugene if you don't mind I'm going to go ahead and start with you well that's a good question because not
everything that is typically my go-to are possible during this current health
pandemic I love the outdoors and I love fishing and hiking and that's been
closed and different seasons here in the state of Washington a home is Seattle
for me but it just recently opened up and so I am looking forward to going hiking and fishing this upcoming weekend
and are you the type of person who like catches a huge fish and puts it like on your wall behind your band or like like
what kind of fishermen are you you know my wife would not allow me to do that
wouldn't having said that I release all
of my fish with the exception of salmon I have a hard time releasing salmon
just because our family enjoys eating salmon okay
and I'm sorry you were gonna say something I just he's supposed to be a fisherman of man um what are you doing
to keep yourself entertained these days I you know I things are pretty normal
for me but to be honest the only the great thing about what's happened for me
is just it's shut down all my travel which is yeah very nice so yeah I'm
pretty much have a reading schedule and I keep to that I have plenty to keep
busy with so and then Ramadan I tend to just shut off all almost all activity
with the outside now I've been told you
have read some books about Christianity do you have a book maybe outside the
Bible that you've read about Christian theology or Christian thought or history that that you've liked that you really
enjoyed reading well I mean I've spent a lot of time in Christian traditions very
familiar I let's see probably Joseph's
peepers my favorite writer in the moderns and then I was just reading a
very interesting book on the early church fathers I just read a book on a
Catholic book on called the noonday devil on acedia which was very
interesting so yeah I Aquinas I like Aquinas a lot I mean I'm more in the
Orthodox Catholic tradition than the evangelical tradition so although I'm
having this line with this line I mean I always say somebody you know I was with
with Bob Roberts right you know passing out oh yes and we were with the we were
with the patriarch of Jerusalem and Bob was telling him you know that we need to
convert this guy on this lawn back to Christianity and I told him you know I
told the patriarch that I told Bob several times because Bob says you know

I want to make you a Christian I said Bob I don't want to make you Muslim I want to make you an Orthodox Christian
or a Catholic because you're a heretic right now my prick another patriarch love that Wow okay well we'll just let that lay there Yasmine my wonderful co-moderator today
I let her introduce herself formally in a second but what have you been doing to keep yourself busy during the season
I don't know if it's necessary to keep myself busy but I always had this at home yoga practice yoga with Adriene and
she has a bunch of stuff on YouTube and Quarantine is kind of made me anxious at times there's like a lot of bad news and
so I've been doing a ton more yoga with Adriene I highly recommend if you don't
need a lot of equipment you can have hard workouts you can relax you can meditate it's been extremely helpful all
right awesome all right well I'll do some a formal
introduction now again I'm Kevin singer co-founder and director of neighborly faith our organization began in 2015
when my colleague Krista Crick and I were studying theology at Wheaton College in Wheaton Illinois our mission
is to help evangelical Christians or Christian conservatives to be good neighbors to people of other faiths if
you want to if you want to learn more about neighborly faith go to our website they really faith that or follow us on
Twitter or Instagram or like us on Facebook this is the fifth dialogue in a series we're doing in April and May
which gives evangelical Christian leaders like Eugene as well as Muslim leaders like Hamza an opportunity to
share their unique perspectives on various topics since a model honest and respectful dialogue

today's topic is where do we go from here the next chapter a religion of politics in America our next dialogues
next Thursday at 3 o'clock Eastern it will feature Jen Mitchell who's
a popular Christian speaker and author of a book called surprised by paradox the promise of and in an either/or world
she's an amazing speaker and then yeah Yasmine al-hadi who was a Muslims human
race a lawyer stand-up comedian and a relationship consultant based in DC and
they're gonna be a dialogue about self-care healthy relationships and making a home so you won't want to miss that we'll make sure to put out some
information right at the end of this dialogue for you to register for our next dialogue but for now I'm gonna have
our panelists today introduce themselves will start with Hamza tell us who you are what you do and why participating in
this dialogue was important to you we're appealing to you well first of all I
thank thank you for inviting me on I'm lying Hamza Yusuf Hanson and I'm right
now the president of a small liberal arts college in Berkeley called Zaytuna
College which is the first accredited Muslim college in the in the United
States and we have a BA and master's program it's it's a it's very similar
for people that know a Christian liberal arts tradition it's very similar we have a great books curriculum we focus a lot
on the Trivium the quadrivium classical what would be classical learning in in
the West alright Eugene you I'm a next yes thank
you again for the invitation my name is Eugene and as I shared earlier I live in
Seattle Washington I'm married to my wife and we have three kids two kids in college our youngest is a junior in high
school I was born in Seoul Korea immigrated to the United States when I was six years old and I have pastored
for the past 30 or so years I recently stepped down from a church called quest
Church that my wife and I started about 20 years ago I also run a humanitarian
organization called one day's wages in which we seek to inspire people around
the world to give up one days of their wages at least once a year as we seek to
invest all of that in carefully vetted projects around the world and starting on July 1 I'll also be assuming a new
position in Washington DC called bread for the world a Christian advocacy
organization that seeks to end hunger both here in the United States and around the world the screen and yes
hi I'm Yasmin aureus mean depending on your pronunciation I was born and raised
here in North Carolina my father is Algerian and my mother is Iranian so I always grew up with an interesting mix
here this is the second time I've come muttering with Kevin I'm really happy to be cooperating with neighborly babe it's
been a lot of fun and the conversation is really going great so I'm hopeful that that will happen again today and I
think one of the reasons why he invited me was I am a host of a podcast called me and my Muslim friends my producers
our radio producer soulish Limor works for WNC and Durham and ah be cheap on the Moody works for KQED in San
Francisco I have to give him a shout-out because they work so hard on it and they are non-muslim so it's been a really interesting collaboration with them we
talked about everything on our podcast from growing up post 9/11 to being a black Muslim and facing racism or if
you're a Latina convert like that what that is like for your identity if you're interested in that we're on a podcast
Spotify you can also go to me and my Muslim friends calm I didn't study journalism at UNC Chapel Hill so it's my
thing and I also studied anthropology undergrad at Wake Forest which is where my loyalties always are so for whoever
is listening go Deeks and that's it for me I'm excited how this conversation you are awesome well we're super excited
about homes on Eugene here who are obviously very influential leaders in their communities and the fact that
they're willing to jump on this call and have this conversation together I think is already a win it's already a victory
in our country where I don't think these conversations frankly happen enough where we're willing to talk across our
differences and see what lessons we might learn from even having these conversations so thank you again both
for being here let's jump into the dialogue I'll go ahead and start with the first question
Eugene you just released a brand new book entitled thou shalt not be a jerk a
Christians guide to engaging politics right on the heels of this pandemic I
think what was it March 1 that was the publication date of the book but I mean a highly anticipated book a lot of
people talking about it a lot of news coverage a lot of media about it I have a couple of questions just to launch us
into this conversation one sure what makes the message of your book distinctly Christian but also do you
think that the message of the book will still be applicable this new sort of this brave new world
were entering into well thanks again for
having me and for the question it's been an interesting time to release a new book the book launch became a book
quarantine and so it's been disappointing on that level but it's been encouraging to see people engage it
and read it certainly those that consider themselves Christian and others as well you know I am NOT someone that
would be considered an expert in politics even though I get occasionally invited to these kinds of conversations
I'm not obsessed about politics I don't watch cable news constantly around the clock my only personal foray into
politics was in middle school when I ran for middle-school president and got crushed I got less than 10 percent of
the votes but over the years both as a pastor and as a Christian and as a
citizen I've learned that I need to care about politics because it informs policies that affect people and the last
time I read the Bible and I read it often is that God cares about people especially those who are often
marginalized or ostracized in our larger society that's part of the message that I shared in this book and so to answer
one of your questions directly Kevin yes I do believe that people that are not
but wouldn't identify themselves as Christians would find value in the book and I hope that they do but also because
maybe it would help others better understand Christians in a time right
now where there's a lot of confusion sometimes I'll be watching these and I
have no idea what folks are talking about when they're speaking about Christians or about this broad umbrella
of evangelicals even though I'm ordained through a denomination called
Evangelical Covenant Church I no longer understand what that word means in our
current climate because it's been bantered and thrown around in a variety of ways but as you said the subtitle of
this book is a Christians guide to engage in politics and I'm speaking directly to the church the capital C
Church and all of its variety of stripes and streams and I'm speaking to the church because
sometimes within Christianity within Christendom when we're speaking about
issues or problems and I suspect that it's not just for Christians our tendency is we want to point a finger at
others we want to blame others I'm a danger is over there those folks are bad people and those
folks are evil and so my hope with this book is to challenge and encourage the
church to be more introspective to think about ourselves and perhaps our
complicity maybe in our silence maybe our idolatry with politics or something
that I call cultural Christianity where we're more enamored by privilege or power but not always a life that
parallels the life and ministry and ethics of Jesus so I'll end right there
I'm doing thoughts on that was just yes
yeah I mean it's obviously something that concerns all of us we're long ago
were political animals we we live in aggregates that the demand a type of
cooperation and when when things break down they can get very very ugly and I
think people tend to forget how fragile political institutions are States can
fail things things do break down and we have a history of an immense amount of
suffering because of political breakdowns so I think engaging to some
degree we have to be politically engaged I think that the people that founded
this country with all their faults had had a lot of really really spot-on ideas
but one of them and the only private institution mentioned in the
Constitution is the press because they really understood that a well informed the population was absolutely necessary
for a republic to work and that if you had people that were not well informed
then you're in trouble and and and one of the I think really interesting has
facts about that early period is there are bad articles are now considered
classic literature so you know people study these things now at the university
level and a lot of people a lot of average Americans don't even have access
to something like the Federalist Papers because they don't have the language skills to get into complex compound
sentences anymore so I think we're you know overall I think our society is in a
lot of trouble right now and there's there's a there's a lot of crises it's not like I don't know enough about
history to know that this is not something new we've been through many
crises before but I think there's certain aspects now mass control is one
of them I think people don't realize how massively controlled people's thoughts
are in this country the people that watch the same programs and those
programs are controlled by a very small group of people that have a lot of them
have agendas some of them are business agenda doesn't some of them are political agendas and probably one of
the best antidotes for that is the traditional study of rhetoric and I'll just end with one little anecdote my
grandmother great-grandmother who studied rhetoric in a high school in
Wisconsin I actually inherited her rhetoric book by a it's called Bane's
rhetoric and there's a chapter on the emotions and on the section on fear and
that remember these are high school students in America so in the section on fear it said that politicians will
always use fear to to to create a type
of docility in the population because when people panic they tend to lose
their critical thinking skills and and and and and and the book says generally
they want to take away your civil liberties with the use of fear so this
isn't way into the next question that we have Hamza and as you mentioned you've been no stranger to political engagement
yourself you recently joined a 12 member panel called the Commission on unalienable rights organized by Mike
Pompeo in the State Department while the Commission has faced some controversy and main focus is on the right that you
mentioned religious freedom granted in the US Constitution given the current virus pandemic and the
public health concerns that have come with that there have been mandated quarantines across the country needs of
limited gatherings and that includes religious gatherings and as a result some have voiced feeling that their
religious rights are under threat in this moment and these ordinate these ordinances do affect all religious
groups however and they have been highlighted for example in New York City with the restrictions affecting the
practices of Hasidic Jews just wanted to know what are your thoughts on this yeah
there's a lot of back there but I mean first of all yeah they the Commissioner on human rights to me was you know I see
it as if you're invited to to the table I have a teacher Shelby who always says
an empty chair is not a strategy if you're invited to the table it's always
good to Muslims often complain about how we're never heard and our voices are
heard and then when you're actually invited to the table where your voice can be heard then then a lot of Muslims
will condemn you for being at the table so it's one of those catch-22 situations in our community it's unfortunate but
but it is what it is in terms of what's happening now this is unprecedented even
in 1918 they did not do the type of quarantine that we're seeing so this is
the first time I think in human history apparently 65 percent of the global
population is now under house arrest technically I mean fortunately in this
country we're still have to go out and and exercise and do things outside so if
you keep your social distancing but in some places and I've talked to friends in different countries right now it's
much more severe and so I think the danger
is is clear and present personally that governments tend to really enjoy this
the type of power that comes in in situations like this and and we have I
think our founders were very concerned about the importance of being vigilant
which is why we have the Second Amendment I mean it was it was actually
because they they were worried about government encroachment and if we know history well enough we know that
governments tend to to overstep and in fact a book that I teach on YouTube on
Liberty there's a chapter on there that
mill talks about the relationship where
personal freedom ends and government authority begins that is a very very
difficult gray area in human history and for the last two hundred and some-odd
years we in America have not all of us obviously but many people in America
have enjoyed a great deal of Liberty and so I think a lot of Americans right now
are very are feeling they're they're they're concerned and I understand those
concerns on the other hand we have a situation that you have epidemiologists
that are explaining the importance of these mandates and so it becomes I think
a very difficult area and I don't really have any any absolute answer but I've been asked about people like these guys
give me liberty or give me code of 19 no the Michigan people would with the guns
and everything and you know there's something in me that actually appreciates that libertarians spirits
that's I think don't tread on me was was
one of the slogans of the American Revolution so I get that where that's coming from and even Hodgins says is
actually a very important quality because he says when people lose the ability to defend themselves in
a society then tyranny is quick to follow so I understand those concerns
yeah well thank you it's a it's really a privilege to be on this conversation with Hamza and this is the first time
that I've been erected with him but have heard of him and know of him through some articles it really is an honor just
to be in this conversation I also want to be able to extend it less that Ramadan to him and to you yes men as

well this is a really interesting question I don't know anyone that's
enjoying this stay at home or quarantine or whatever word that we want to use
even in the beginning there were some introverts who were saying that they
enjoy this but I think now you know six seven eight weeks into it and living in
Seattle we were probably the initial epicenter of kovat 19 here and so we
have been feeling the weight and extent of this and I don't necessarily see this as anything directed to religious
practices or to a particular prejudice against religious people although it has
been in the news in a variety of expressions in some ways I have been trying to counsel my fellow Christian
leaders and pastors to say that we should be informing our congregation
those that we care for the reason why this matters is because this is an opportunity for us to model what it
means to be for the common good that it's not just about our local body our
local congregation or whatever it might be but it's our opportunity to model
seeking a piece of the city if you will and also because I think I'm also
impacted by my lens as someone who has spent some time living in Korea one of
my the love-hate things that I have about American I'm a proud American citizen a naturalized American citizen
there's so much that I but I also have a love-hate relationship and sometime it's about the exact same thing and in
this case it's about individual freedom like I love that about America and yet I
also feel like when it's not steward it well it can become very excessive about
me myself and I and so I see some of that even in the protests that are
taking place the idea of folks plastering themselves with guns and
machine guns it's just hard for me to process whereas I think living in Korea
part of it again good things and bad things it's more of a communal culture
and so as a result we're often thinking about the common good of others as well which doesn't surprise me that despite
the fact that koban 19 was the first death was announced on the same day in
both the United States and in Korea they're in a radically different space right now because I think as a whole
culture even though they have their mixed relationships with government and
authority they've really taken that communal spirit to the point that I believe yesterday was the third straight
day in Korea with zero new cases and so there's probably a lot more that can be
said there but I get on leave it
 affects I'm sorry open it to you in case you had
any additional thoughts before we move on 

Sh Hamza: well I mean I think one of the most fundamental important aspects of religion is is the ecclesia, the Songhai
Dominion the Jamahah you know every religion has this understanding of coming together 

But we also have the anchorite tradition. we also have the idea of of really kind of retreating and
and going into the South the sannyasi in Hinduism. Where you really need to depart from the world in
order to get a different perspective and so

 I think this is an incredible opportunity  like The Reverend Eugene said, that he didn't know anybody was enjoying it. 
 This is one the best thing that ever happened to me personally.  I get the hardships and it troubles me that people have those hardships.  But for me personally this has been an incredible time.
 
I'm an ambivert and i have friends that are extroverts that are having a really hard time.  Introverts tend to have an easier time in these type situations so there are a lot of people the more gregarious type of people that need a lot of human
interaction but there are those of us who really enjoy communing with the dead
I mean I spent a lot of time with with dead people
 and I loved their company.  they never talk back to me which is interesting. but they challenged me constantly so I definitely enjoy this time it's been a wonderful time for me personally 

 so very interesting comment I just said - Yasmine we're chanting if
you are intentionally setting up these transitions because they're incredible transitions into our next question but
looking at the next question this is really for both of you looking at the capital C church and the Muslim
community is there actually some precedent for social isolation being a
good thing maybe even a holy thing for example in a recent panel Homs that you
alluded to that really church fathers he said you've been reading about recently who deliberately sought isolation Eugene
you wrote in a recent tweet quote large crowds or small crowds or no crowd
preach for an audience of one live for an audience of one so is there some sense in which isolation could could be
sanctifying as we Christians like to say Hamza I will go ahead and start with you
first okay using God well thank you Homs are
you speaking about communing with dead people I was just thinking about an episode of The Sixth Sense that just
came to mind if you've ever seen that film it's an amazing film I happen to be an introvert and so I do enjoy some of
this isolation and solitude but I think it's not not having the ability to
freely exit your home and to be able to go to places and say that actually helped foster those times
of sanctifying solitude or whatever it might be you know I think the answer is
both yes and no and I think it really depends on how we make the most of this particular situation I think we have to
acknowledge it's not just a time of silence and solitude I think many of us are struggling with the reality of a
health condemning around us I think we hear stories of illness we hear stories
of death we hear stories of unemployment we know people that are impacted by
these very realities when you see images of grocery lines or images of food banks
with miles I mean for me is that's not just a personal holy spiritual time away
from me myself and God I think while we can engage in those things and it can be
sanctifying I think it's also an opportunity for us to grow in our empathy and our solidarity for others
who are being deeply impacted by this and so there is a difference between intentional engagement in these
spiritual practices and then forced by circumstances in this case by a real
global health pandemic the other thing that I would just say that I would add
to this is I think this time one of the reasons why it can be helpful even in
the midst of a difficult situation is it does give us perspective in the first two weeks of this situation I was kind
of mired in some personal self-pity and I was mired by this some wallowing and
the fact that I couldn't do certain things like my friend Hamza I often
travel unlocks and so all of my speaking engagements were canceled and so I was
also kind of decrying the fact that our family income had dramatically did but I
also realized with perspective I don't have to worry about a single meal in the upcoming months I don't have to worry
about rent or mortgage payments I think it gives me that perspective and as a
result of that perspective it's helped me to become that much more empathetic and to grow in solidarity
about what it means to be a good neighbor and then Kevin to the quote that you had mentioned about one of the tweets I made
about large crowds or small crowds I think it's a fair critique about
Christianity and particularly evangelical Christianity where if we're not careful it's been kind of reduced to
a production to an event you know it's a thing that you go to for about 60
minutes sometimes even shorter or longer and it's something that entertains you
and I think as a result I think we're reminded that the essence of church is not a production it's not an event where
we go to be entertained and I think it's been good for people to realize and to
ask the question what is the essence of the church the essence of gathering the essence of worship and to encourage
Christians to be creative and how we do that how do we be creative in still fostering connections and fellowship and
worship and service even during this time I mean I would add to that that in
our tradition in tradition there is a tradition of what's called our OWSLA which is withdrawing from society and
and the Prophet said towards the latter days when you would see so much corruption in the greater society
he actually said cling to your home convincin mentality basica and and so
one of the benefits is not seeing so much of what is is troubling out there
and and we and and there are many many degrees of this obviously a go to one for many religious people and I know
this is to the consternation of a lot of secular people is just the pornographic nature of popular culture you know when
feminists back in the 70s came out against all of the exploitation of the
women in advertising the advertiser said oh you're right let's exploit the men equally as well and so then we get the
you know the naked men on the billboards as well as as the name women so those kind of aspects that are
very corrosive to the human heart I mean I don't think people realized the impact and one of the things about the deadly
sin of lust which I think is in unfortunately our countries in the grip
in many ways of that sin with is is one
of the daughters of that sin according to through scholastics is hatred of God
and hatreds of things divine and so there's a lot of immense animosity
towards faith in the popular culture and so the Benedict option which is being
put forward by some Catholics and and I mean this is something the Amish have
been doing for a very long time of just literally saying you know what it's it's
time to retreat and so that's one option and I wholeheartedly accept people that
take that option our Prophet Mohammed said that the best people are the people
that interact with people and are patient with the harm that comes to them from that and so it's it's a higher way
you know I people think that the monastery is difficult the monastery is
really easy and as somebody who's actually done something very similar to that I know how much easier the
monastery is to marriage and children and as Zorba the Greek said the full
catastrophe you know that when when you when you enter into the world the world
is is an immense struggle and but it's also something that's it's it's through
suffering that wisdom comes as a skill II said so it's just part of the human
condition and we grow with that a serving is a really important aspect of our religions and it's not serving the
self it's actually giving up the service of the self or the service of the other which is very important and and then
seeing the other as a brother you know what an intriguing linguistic
coincidence in Arabic and and English is other the word for other is in the word
for brother and and in Arabic the word for brother is in the word for other Eugene
any last thoughts on that question no I think next question okay so just before
these new restrictions are put in place Eugene you were appointed as any president Fred for the world and now
you're working on that it's a prominent Christian advocacy group dedicated to ending hunger and Hamza you are
president of Zaytuna College which is training future leaders and thinkers in the Islamic intellectual traditions in
California assuming that the world is going to look a bit different for a while considering how long this is
extending how are you going to leave these organizations to be effective with all of this going on are the current
restrictions and impediment to you fulfilling your mission or are you also seeing some opportunities in your work
um time so let's start with you on this one well I think for colleges right now
all the colleges are really looking at this with some trepidation some concern
because one I think the online while it's tempting I think there's a real
downside to online learning I think and this gets back to the ecclesia the Khan together a group sign is very important
for students to to be in an environment where they interact with mentors and teachers and that's at the heart of what
state una College is about so we we we very much see this idea elders and the
importance of really mentoring young people and and and a lot of that it's
it's necessary to have real physical proximity so when you're online it's
very different even now if we would have a very different interaction if we were sitting in a room together then in
disembodied you know images that we're seeing online so I I think you know I'm
concerned about it it's a difficult time we've transitioned completely online to
so all of our students with the exception of a few international students that that could not
go home our students are now learning online some of them are fine with it but other ones are having a difficult time
so I think that's natural so we these are challenges but like I said we're in uncharted waters this is
unprecedented times and I think all of us are going to be grappling with with
this in the in the coming months of how how we best adjust and adapt to the
circumstances that have been thrust upon us and this is the nature of the world I mean the world will will will thrust
upon you things that you just do not expect and and and this is why God has
made us an adaptable creature we it for good and for ill because the the horrors
that because people can adapt to our very troubling and the desensitization I
mean our our society's become so desensitized to violence it's it's it's almost unbearable for those of us who
are sensitive to it if you how about you anywhere
yes I'll be assuming the title of President on starting on July 1 but I
have begun the onboarding and the orientation process and it has been dizzying because of the current
situation not just with the health pandemic but because of the work that bread for the world actually does is
around trying to engage lawmakers around policies that impact everything citizens
especially those who experience hunger and poverty in a variety of ways so in
other words what I'm saying is the last two months since I was announced we have been really working around the clock it
has been so intense behind the scenes engaging with lawmakers policymakers
activists organizers because as many of you know for those were watching or
listening to this this has impacted nearly everyone on the face of this
earth and we see a number of people who are experiencing unemployment skyrocket
and it's still going to increase earlier I mentioned food pantries and food banks the lines that
are at these places are tragic and we are now beginning to read reports from
both United Nations along with World Food Program suggesting that about 700
million people around the world are going to experience hunger and starvation in dramatic way so it's been
overwhelming to be honest with you and so in the midst of that we're just trying to figure out yeah how do we be
to be to adapt and to be flexible it's probably not the best place to make a
joke but I'm gonna do it anyways I just discovered this thing called zoom you
should try it I have been zoomed out at the last six weeks I am blue to my
tablet or computer for about eight nine hours a day and it's really interesting because some reports have been
suggesting that people are actually working more hours working from home but
it's weird being less productive and I think it's part of that adaptation that we're trying to figure out and I think
we need to add that because who knows what the future holds even when restrictions ease I'm not
quite sure how people would feel comfortable going back to their respective workplaces but as I'm
thinking about a new bread for the world I've been thinking about how these circumstances inadvertently is causing
us to be more flexible to be more creative and to actually be more innovative and innovation happens for a
variety of reasons sometimes circumstances force us to be more innovative and I think that's precisely
where we are at bread for the world for those that have never heard about the
work that we do I'd love for them to check out breads org and just to learn more about the work that we're doing as
any last thoughts on that I you know I think for organizations to do these
things that's very important I think for individuals I recently read a really interesting
after in a book by a famous and Lucien's scholar who was talking about a plague that had afflicted and Lucia and and he
talked about how there were a lot of people suffering and he would he had a dream where he was with all his students
and they said how is it that we're eating when people are are suffering out
there with the play and in his dream he addressed the issue and then he writes it in his book but
what he said was what was important is that we can't alleviate all the problems
of the world but he said everybody if they only took one person and and he
said in his case he took two people he gave two loaves of bread every day to
two families and he said if everybody did that just take one or two people
where they took responsibility for helping them those who are able
obviously he said that would solve the problems which is not to deny the importance of organizations that are
doing it much larger numbers but I think individually we can do this you know we
can really help families in need by just it's not hard to do and and I think
everybody should try to do that if they're able to it's great so we'll jump
now into our Q&A portion and of the dialogue we've got tons people watching right now and so I'm sure we'll see some
questions pour in here so if you're watching and you have a question there should be a Q&A box there at the bottom
of your screen go ahead and pose a question and we'll try to get to as many as we can
I thought I would launch with this question though Christian conservatives
evangelicals and Muslims are there ways they can be walking in step with each
other right now supporting one another right now these are two communities that maybe haven't traditionally been so
close but maybe it could be a lot closer like maybe there's more touch points between these communities then we are
then we currently realize comms will start with you do you see areas where where there could be more communication
more cooperation share interests well I think you know the Muslim community in
the 90 when when when I was very active publicly in the community was extremely
conservative and but because of the the I I don't really like the term but for
one of a better one because of the kind of anti-muslim sentiment a lot of
Muslims have been driven into the last and so now you've really seen a major shift in our community and also I think
conservatives will concur with me here that in some ways Islam has become the
poster child religion of the left because the enemy of my enemy is my
friend but the tenants of Islam are odious to most people are on on the Left
especially the extreme left so they really don't like Islam as a religion but it becomes useful and and and a lot
of the alliances out there in that community are purely utilitarian they're
they're they're not based on any moral or ethical considerations so I personally think that the the Muslims
have a lot in common with the concerns of conservative Christians because we we want to see
societies that don't objectify women or men we want to see societies where
children are protected from you know they're in the Garden of Eden for you
know 10 or 12 years and we believe they should be left there like they'll taste
the fruits soon enough so I think there's a lot of areas where people very
committed to marriage and the importance and the sanctity of marriage which is also I mean I wrote a an article on on
the abortion issue because the traditional Muslim stance on abortion is very strong and unfortunately there's a
lot of modern Muslims that are pushing this idea somehow that abortion was
permitted but all of the early classical scholars who just saw it as a heinous crime against the gift of life so in
that as especially I mean late term abortion like you know I mean as Isaiah reminds
us you know that for those that call evil good and good evil you know I mean
this is a complete inversion of reality and so I think those areas are very
important I'm not particularly I mean I'm I'm I'm much more in a kind of
Burkean view I don't really consider modern conservatives of as conservatives
to have a whole lot to do with real conservative principles and values but I
do believe that Islam is fundamentally a very conservative religion in conserving
the best it wants to conserve the best and and so I think there's a lot of areas where where Muslims and
traditional people's in the United States can ally for the good and I think
that if you know if I think Christians if they had a better understanding of
something like Garry wills is a good example get Harry wills is a is a was a public intellectual Pulitzer
prize-winner he wrote a brilliant book on Lincoln at Gettysburg he was a classicist I think a quite
extraordinary man but the somebody asked him in a gathering after 9/11 you know
is the era scholar of religion is the horror on a crazy book and he said you
know he felt ashamed that he had never read the Quran and so he actually spent
a year of his life studying the Quran and wrote a book as a Christian what the Quran means and why it matters is a very
important book but I think he came to the realization that you know that he
was prejudiced and and I think there's a lot of Christians that have deep
prejudice towards the Muslim faith and they don't know it and if you think Isis
is Islam then Catholicism is pedophilia and you know I mean or the Ku Klux Klan
evangelicals or Ku Klux Klan members I mean the is this kind of really characterisations
of a faith that had an immense impact on Christianity and anybody that studies
the history of Christian theology that reads Aquinas or read some of the the
great scholastics of the Middle Ages that were heavily influenced by a varoius and Avicenna and Farabi and
Ghazali and these are these are historical facts so this idea somehow
that a civilization that could build the Taj Mahal is a civilization of suicide
bombers I mean that's just I think that should smack in the face of anybody with
a modicum of intelligence as something that really needs to be reassessed
picking out books sums that we had a question come in for you but Eugene I
want you to feel free to jump on jump in because everyone should just read more and the question is I'm a practicing
Muslim at a potential critical time of spiritual growth with this opportunity to grow during this pandemic I'm looking
for some thought-provoking books and authors so I can increase my communication with the dead you
mentioned sorbets the Greek ivanhoe Xun what are some books that you would recommend for a layman without classic
deep training and a liberal arts education to improve spirituality and so if I also wanted to throw up to Eugene
that's pretty broad but we'll start with you have this since it was directed at you well spiritual literature some of
its been translated into English I would look into some of the books that have
been translated by Imam al-ghazali I worked with a project on gazali for
children and so we've done several books now from his but his books are a really
excellent place to start for somebody that really wants to deepen their knowledge of traditional spirituality
I don't usually plug my books but I did write a book called purification of the
heart which is available at sandala and and that goes in
to the diseases of the heart their ideologies and how we treat them
and a lot of people I think have really benefited based on the feedback that I've been given over the years it sold
over 250,000 copies so you know there's a lot of people that have been very interested in Eugene do you have any
input for this listener yeah I'll suggest a couple books and I thought I
would maybe go back to the previous question if I may as quickly as I could no unlike my new friend Hamza I don't
mind and so thou shalt not be a jerk would be one my first book is overrated
I'm not saying that it's overrated it's actually titled overrated so people can
check that out as well I love reading and suggesting to folks
certain classic Christian books I think obviously CS Lewis mere christianity is
one that I think everyone that's interested in Christianity should read any of the books by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
for me has been really resonant especially the cost of discipleship is one another book that I suggest to
people is any there's an anthology of sermons and writings by Reverend Martin
dr. Luther King jr. that I recommend and then I should have read one of his sermons at least at least once every
couple weeks I think he gives a different perspective and lens then maybe our classic writers in
Christianity but I want to go back to kind of what does it look like for for
some sort of collegiality or for some kind of collaboration between Christians
and Muslims you know my fence is this I think collegiality and collaboration
are impossible if you don't know those that you want to collaborate and have
collegiality with in the Christian vernacular when we say we're called to
love our neighbors obviously Jesus summarizes all of the the codes
the commandments and says the two greatest Commandments are to love God and to love your neighbors and you can't
love your neighbor if you don't know your neighbor everything outside of that
is very nebulous theoretical theological and it's not practical it's not embodied
in our daily lives and I think this is part of the strong disconnect that is contributing to
fragmentation in our society is that we're basically speaking about issues but we don't know anyone that directly
is impacted by these very things and so we're formed by media were formed by
others who may have an agenda that might not necessarily be consistent with the ethics of Jesus and so when it comes
specifically to the relationship that Christians and Muslims I can tell you that while there's a lot of movement and
growth in my own life ten years ago I would have not known a single Muslim in
my life and so everything that I would be speaking about is simply from text books and nothing out of embodied
relationship and so I would just I know it's very simplistic about what does it look like in the future for Christians
and Muslims to work together and I know there will be some who might push back and say it's overly simplistic I think
sometimes it's the simple things that are the most profound and we've got to go back to that and so we've got to
understand when Jesus says to love your neighbors he's not just talking about those that look like you think like you
feel like you worship like you and certainly even vote like you as well I
think for those who take Christian and Muslim faith with a level of seriousness
we can all acknowledge we're not brothers and sisters in faith but we are our neighbors and our respective our
respective teaching tells us that we're called to love our neighbors so I would
begin there and I think out of that is the possibility for new imaginative
things that can take place can I just add something the we you know we had
this caravan of peace where we brought evangelical pastor Muslim Imams and Jewish rabbis together
and I think all of the Evangelic Lassard Bob Roberts was was Pastor Bob was part
of that but I got to know several I still keep in touch with some of the
pastors that I met pastor Kevin Brown in Philadelphia Stephen Messer in in in Texas I I
developed some wonderful relationships with people and I think one of the things about people that love God
however we conceptualize in and in the end we have in our tradition and
anything that the mind can conceive of God is other than that and I think that's Aquinas would be perfectly fine
with a statement like that so I think that anybody who sees the
love of God in another person has an affinity for that person irrespective of
their faith and I think also deeply died piety because our traditions call us to
piety Apia toss you know this idea of a dutiful awareness of our obligations
towards God and towards God's creation our entire religion was summed up by one
of the greatest theologians of Islam for didn't email Brasi he said all of his long could be summed up in two
statements love of God and mercy towards his creation and I think most Christians
would not have a hard time with with with that either so well as with all of our dialogues we
have so many so many good questions that we unfortunately didn't have time to get
to you but I want to just acknowledge those of you who asked questions we're so thankful and grateful that you did
and we hope that you'll continue the conversations whether you're Muslim or Christian in your own communities
whether it's online or through zoom of course Eugene probably won't be meeting
you there because I think he's never gonna do a zoom call again after this but we would encourage you to if you
know Christians or Muslims whether you know just by acquaintance or someone
that you could be connected with to ask those questions to your Muslim neighbor to Christian neighbor and see what they think this conversations really just
supposed to be the start of additional conversations down the road I mean part of why we do this is to normalize these
conversations to show that these conversations should be part of our daily lives it shouldn't be an event
necessarily to to speak to a Muslim if you're a Christian or or vice versa should be maybe something that we
incorporate into our lives but this has been amazing I'm so so grateful for you
hamza and eugene and you of course the Esmond for being here today and engaging in this conversation again our next
dialogue would they really face this next Thursday please head to where social media pages now and you'll see all the information you need to register
for that but for now we thank you for being here check out neighborly faith that org bread for the world Zaytuna
College and the me and my Muslims friends podcast which is fantastic and
that's it we're so thankful that your that you were here and we'll see you next time nice to meet you all have a
great day everyo