Rules of Engagement

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Event Name: Rules of Engagement
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 5/12/2020 7:17:33 PM
Transcript Version: 2

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 Salam alaikum greetings of peace it's my
honor to welcome all of you on behalf of
Zaytuna College about the program
tonight as we all know all minorities
and including especially Muslims face a
series of questions in working for
change for the causes that they're
interested in so the questions are what
exactly is a change we want to bring
about and then the next question becomes
what is our theory of change as they
call it
how does change actually happen how does
this change take place what is the most
effective way to influence political
authorities whether the government's
whether the Commission's whether
international organizations what are the
most effective means to influence their
agenda their policies whatever it might
be are there reasons to engage with
political authorities even if you find
there some other actions or statements
morally unacceptable or deplorable even
are there any reasons that we should
still we can and should still engage
with them can different members of a
minority community in this case for
Muslims pursue different avenues to work
for change there are people who engage
the people who lobby there people who
protest people who do boycotts people
who work in electoral campaigns these
are all methods of working for change is
it okay for everybody to do whatever
they choose to do out of these so those
are a lot of the questions we're going
to try and address at much of those as
we can tonight in the conversation
little you'll see and because this has
been in the news as you all know lately
driven by this news in the last month
about the commission of an unalienable
rights the Department of State the
United States Department of State so
that's hopefully this will shed some
light on all of these topics about
engagement our goal tonight is to try
and shed some light on this and to also
look at how influence can work within
governments and within governmental
bodies and how hearts and minds can
change and can begin to change so let me
begin by introducing some of our
speakers real quickly and then we'll get
Salameh Mariotti he has dedicated
himself to improving the public
understanding of Islam he has visited
the White House he's worked on Capitol
Hill he's worked with different national
and international organizations in Human
Rights religious freedom and a whole
host of other issues that are important
to Muslims and to broader faith
communities he is also a mention the
president and the co-founder of the
Muslim Public Affairs Council impact as
it's known and he oversees their
groundbreaking civic engagement public
policy and advocacy work so he has a
wealth of experience of working from
outside but working and facing the
powers that be so to speak and trying to
affect change in that manner Hamza Yusuf
is as you all know president of the
eternal College and he has long-standing
proponent he's been a long-standing
proponent of classical learning in Islam
and for decades now he's engaged with
political authorities governments were
here in America and across the world
lobe in many capacities
he's also participated in major
international organizations the World
Economic Forum in Davos the Vatican all
kinds of national and international
groups like that so he has a wealth of
experience to talk about how what he is
seeing how change works what influence
works within those entities that he's
been familiar with our moderator tonight
will be Holly jazzy and she's a Bay Area
native and a longtime friend and she is
also works in politics so she's a really
great person to actually have to
facilitate and moderate this discussion
I think she is a I want to be accurate
about what I say about her her extensive
public service and government affairs
experience and on the board of directors
of the San Francisco interfaith council
she's a commissioned the Human Rights
Commissioner in the city of San
she also chairs the mmm so as it's
called which stands for Arab Middle
Eastern Muslim and South Asian advisory
boards for the San Francisco Mayor and
district attorney and police chief so
she brings a lot of experience of
working both one leg inside the governor
one leg outside service if I could say
that come on who does both a religious
scholar and a policy expert on issues
related to security to conflict
resolution u.s. foreign policy and he
has considerable experience both inside
the government he worked for for time
inside this United States Department of
State under the John Kerry when he was
the Secretary of State under the Obama
administration he has he holds a PhD in
Middle Eastern Islamic Studies from UCLA
he's worked at the State Department as a
senior policy adviser on matters of
religion and u.s. foreign policy and he
also served many years for the United
States Institute of Peace he now serves
as vice president of the development and
strategy at the center for global policy
and dad is a think tank in Washington so
pretty much his entire work and there is
engaging with governments with that I'm
gonna ask all the panelists to please
come and join us please give me a round
of applause join me in this for the
mother Oh Marathi as one of our national
leaders as relates to the mobis Muslim
community and especially civic
engagement and public affairs what are
your thoughts on this evenings topic and
why is this so important and anything
you would like to follow up with
commerce opening remarks before we
proceed with the program yes sir male
come Smee laughing thank you for is a
tuna chef hamsa for inviting me to be on
this panel and I wish we had more panels
like this where we would have these
serious conversations and engaging with
community because I believe that as
we're engaging government we also need
to be engaging community because at the
end of the day our job is to represent
the interests of our community we
believe at impact that Muslims should
have a seat at the table every table the
right the left where you like it where
you don't like it but we need to have a
Muslim voice because the number one
criticism of Muslims is that we are
silent we're not heard and I know
there's a lot of noise in social media
but that's not real work the real work
is out there and change happens by
engaging decision makers and those who
shape public opinion so that they have a
better understanding of Islam we change
the way they think about Islam and
Muslims from government to law
enforcement to editors to civic leaders
there needs to be our presence for that
change to happen and at impact we
believe in the four steps of creating
change this theory of change the first
step is that you have managers to
explain the impact the Muslim Public
Affairs Council we engage decision
makers and media because the policies
and the news that shape the image of
Muslims is really the crux of the issue
involving Muslims you ask any Muslim
community what is it that you want to
change the most they want to change how
the media is distorting Islam they want
to change the laws and the policies that
are that we see the double standards in
they want our children to live with
better opportunity and hope and to end
the bullying and the harassment of our
students starting from the the earliest
years the most important years of our
children the first and second grade even
so we engage decision makers and opinion
shapers so the four steps that we aim to
do that this is our theory of change if
you will is that number one you have to
establish a presence and that means you
have to have a seat at the table and
number two when you have that seat at
the table you gain respect respect means
that you do your homework you you have
your policy papers you have your your
your your thought leadership and you
offer ideas that people did not think
about before so that when you walk out
and they walk out of the room they may
say you know I may not agree with that
with that Muslim but I respect what
Muslims have to offer
I respect the credibility that they came
to the table with because they sounded
like they knew what they were talking
about so you have to achieve respect
first after that you gain the acceptance
of being called upon whenever there is
an issue so when there is a problem they
call you to say you know what you you
need to be at this meeting because
something is happening so now you're
part of that decision-making process
even if it is at a very local level or
at a very micro level but you are
accepted to be part of that process
after you gain that acceptance then you
can wield influence on the situation you
are seen as an expert on the issue
you've developed your credibility you
you take
stands that show the principles of Islam
as the Quran says la subida are
applicable Hekmati well more edited
husana which i did home bility here
assam invite people to the way of your
lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching
beautiful admonition and when you argue
with them argue with them and engage
them in a way that you come up with
something better
and that means that we don't just
complain about problems but we are into
problem-solving we are problem solvers
not just problem makers or problem
amplifiers and sometimes that is the
image that that is seen by many
communities not just our is that they
just shout and scream but we are here
for problem solving how do we leverage
government how would you leverage the
decision-making process to offer
services to our community to protect
them and at the same time show that
islam and muslims are an enriching
element of american pluralism and that
is the theory that we see we are like
the light in this room the light in this
room is not the largest part of the room
but it is the most significant part of
the room islam and muslims it is that
light in the american room without it
there is darkness and we don't have a
direction we don't see right from wrong
so that is our theory of change in
engaging the rest of society on these
issues the last thing i want to say is
to to Palmer's point about career public
servants they are probably the most
important elements of democracy they are
probably the the people that we need to
engage the most because as commerce says
they are there no matter which
Republican Democrat far-right far-left
whatever the situation they want that
expertise from us and they are in there
as government public servants and so you
know how we say don't look don't
stereotype Muslims well we shouldn't
because there are many elements of group
there's much good in government I would
say that these career public servants
along with some other great leaders in
American society have preserved our
democracy no matter what we think about
who's in the White House no matter how
hopeless it gets that we think that it's
becoming tyrannical or it's becoming
authoritarian you know it's becoming
oppressive and I remember sitting with
President Clinton even and we had Muslim
leaders and there were sanctions on the
people of Iraq and they were dying and
they weren't changing it wasn't him
that I was interested in talking to it
was his staff around him that were going
to make the decisions and have the
analysis and even when we go to someone
that we disagree with them vehemently
what does the Quran tell us go and tell
them like it told Moosa about Pharaon go
and tell him that he is transgressing
but when you go and talk to him talk to
him in soft speech : lay in it that is
the Islamic method of engagement that
even when we raise these issues that we
feel our country is going in the wrong
direction we speak with intelligence
with mutual respect as problem-solvers
soft speech so that when we walk out
Islam is seen in a better light
inshallah and then there will be more
change for the positive for our
community and for the rest of society
share Kansa it's fair to say you have
received a decent amount of both
criticism and support for your
engagements or rather engagements
especially recently what are your
thoughts on the importance of engagement
for and with the Muslim community
mr. menorah and Rahim Solanas in the
Mohamed well first of all you know it's
very interesting being in the mapa you

Know because it's it's a lot hotter than the room right now but you know for me it's it's been an extraordinary journey
and as I come into these later years of the journey and as it begins to wind up for me looking back 
Erickson has these crises, developmental crises that people have and the one between 40 and 65 is about generativity versus stagnation.  Like actually doing something useful because by 40 this is the prophetic age you kind of have a level of wisdom that you didn't have in your earlier years and then you've got the youth still working.  
But 65 on is integrity versus despair you know did what you did with your life was it do you feel it was worthwhile or do you feel that maybe you made really huge
mistakes and it was a completely squandered opportunity these are these are the things that all human beings have to deal with.

Aristotle in in book seven has a very interesting statement.  Where he he says that there is a difference of opinion amongst those who agree, that the most choice worthy life is a life in pursuit of virtue.  And what they disagree about is whether that virtue is best actualized in the public sphere in as a political servant or by disengaging completely and moving into the contemplative life.  Thus the philosophical life the scholar left the sagely life.  And then he
says that because all people of wisdom agree that these two pursuits are the ones that the people most ambitious in the pursuit of virtue engage in either
the act of political life or the philosophic life.

It's a very interesting passage because I the two single most influential people in my life after my parents, are 2 Mauritania scholars.  One of them Murabit Al Hajj lived a completely disengaged life in the middle he actually left and and went into the deep desert.  Really hard to get to him.  He actually told me I put a barrier between me and the people of this world.  Meaning the Sahara Desert.

He spent his life teaching and people came to him but his life was a life of devotion and contemplation.  Nobody criticizes him he is the most beloved scholar in probably in the 20th century in Mauritania.  Like everybody loves Murabit al Hajj

The other person is sh abdullah bin baya whose father was a judge under the french colonial period who was raised when he at the age of 20 he was a
brilliant scholar he went to Tunisia and studied law French law and mastered both the European tradition of rights and and the Islamic person came back at a very
young age he served in almost every ministerial position he wrote the constitution of Mauritania he was vice president he met with all the major leaders of the Arab world he met I mean his life was incredible engagement then the day that he signed that the Sharia would be implemented in Modi's the next day there was a coup and he was in jail he spent the next several years in isolation in Arabia pretty much an academic life and then he reengaged because he saw things getting very so these are the two now about the engagement

he's been the brunt of incredible criticism and so the nature of engagement is that you will be criticized in fact one of the great Seneca great Roman stoic said that rumors innuendoes slander and libel are the taxes that public personalities must pay for being a public personality.

So this is part of it.  My life changed after 9/11.  

I mean some people we can all 9/11 is different for different people.  My life changed.  

I missed my children's childhood. I mean literally, my wife came to testify that because I was gone seven months out of the year on average, going around the world trying to change the perception a lot of people have about Islam

And for me, I agree with Salaam Marietti that that we should be for our community.  The great Jewish sage rabbi Hillel said if I'm not for myself then who will be for me?  But if I'm only for myself then what am i and so we had as Muslims we are for all of humanity <ARABIC> "You are the the best community that's come out for Humanity".

It doesn't say for the Muslims.  You're actually supposed to be exemplars and people vying in virtue and showing who you are.

so my own personal experience of engagement is that it's I know that it's had an impact and I'll just give you one example.  Sam Brownback, Who was the Governor of Kansas. He enacted an anti-Sharia law in the state of Kansas.  He is now the ambassador for religious freedom. I've seen the transformation.  That's how than in him through interacting with Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah.  And one of the things that really struck him when I told him that channeled open beta was was an expert on agricultural law because he's from Kansas and he's a lawyer who's an expert on agricultural law he's actually written on it and he was like shocked and I said because that's a big part of Islamic law.  I saw the transformation sheikh abdulla brought him together with the mufti the imam of encodes and I saw the Imam complain abou