Saturday, May 25, 2013
Friday, May 24, 2013
One of the distinguishing features of my father's leadership was his critique of his own community. As much as he spoke against racism and the war, he was equally critical of Jewish religious institutions: "On every Sabbath multitudes of Jews gather in the synagogues, and they often depart as they have entered." Prayer had become vicarious, delegated to rabbis and cantors who failed to inspire because they "do not know the language of the soul." He found fault as much with Orthodox as with Reform and Conservative branches of Judaism, as much with educators as with lay leaders. Too much money had been spent on demographic surveys and not enough on education, while educators themselves should make their goal "reverence for learning and the learning of reverence." Worship had lost its fear and trembling and had become a social occasion, rather than a moment of holiness. Society was disintegrating, and Judaism was conforming, failing to convey its resources of integrity. Judaism, he wrote, had become a platitude, when it should be spiritual effrontery. The modern Jew had become a messenger who had forgotten the message.-Susannah Heschel in the introduction to the Perennial Classics Edition of The Prophets by Abraham Joshua Heschel, p. xix.
Shortly after publishing The Prophets, my father became active in the anti-war movement, and in 1965 he founded an organization, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. As much as the Selma march was for him a religious experience, religious without indignation at political evils was impossible. Justice is not simply an idea or a norm, but a divine passion. Echoing the prophetic language, my father declared, "To speak about God and remain silent on Vietnam is blasphemous." If we are to follow, however modestly, the teachings of prophetic sympathy and divine pathos, then religion must be understood as the opposite of callousness. The opposite of good, he wrote, is not evil; the opposite of good is indifference. Indeed, in our very humanity depends upon our compassion. In speaking out against the war, he said, "Remember that the blood of the innocent cries forever. Should that blood stop to cry, humanity would cease to be." Hearing the silent anguish is not limited to the prophets, but devolves upon all of us: "Few are guilty, but all are responsible," my father writes in the early pages of The Prophets.-Susannah Heschel in the introduction to the Perennial Classics Edition of The Prophets by Abraham Joshua Heschel, pgs. xviii-xix.
My father lived in Nazi Germany, fleeing just at the last minute. His mother and three of his sisters, all living in Poland, were murdered by the Nazis. For him, those experiences resulted in both a deepened commitment to his faith and a heightened sensitivity to the suffering of all people. Hitler and his followers came to power not with machine guns, but with words, he used to say, and they did so with a debased view of human beings rooted in contempt for God. You cannot worship God, he writes, and look with contempt at a human being as if he or she were an animal. In particular, he held German Christian religious leaders responsible for the widespread collaboration with the Nazi regime and their failure to provide theological tools for opposing anti-Semitism.-Susannah Heschel in the introduction to the Perennial Classics Edition of The Prophets by Abraham Joshua Heschel, p. xvi.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
The best way to prevent violent extremism is to work with the Muslim American community – which has consistently rejected terrorism – to identify signs of radicalization, and partner with law enforcement when an individual is drifting towards violence. And these partnerships can only work when we recognize that Muslims are a fundamental part of the American family. Indeed, the success of American Muslims, and our determination to guard against any encroachments on their civil liberties, is the ultimate rebuke to those who say we are at war with Islam.-President today via Rashad Hussain
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Muslims often ask me what they should study; and are perplexed when I usually warn them against joining the legions of believers now populating departments of politics or social science. The crisis of our age produces political and social disruptions, but it is not their consequence. Religion is about truth, and unless truth be properly discerned and defended, nothing else will come right.-Abdal-Hakim Murad, "Quicunque Vult, or, A teenage journey to Islam."
Monday, May 20, 2013
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy! Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy, Master of the Day of Judgement. It is You we worship; it is You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path: the path of those You have blessed, those who incur no anger and who have not gone astray.
The Qur'an. A new translation by M.A.S. Abdellah Haleem.