Thursday, December 17, 2015

Solidarity (and Suprise!) in Santa Clara

With Adam Malik at the Muslim Community Association
I was invited by my friend Imam Tahir Anwar, and I took Tahir's invitation seriously.  He'd organized a regional event, for Muslim leaders and others eager to demonstrate solidarity in the face of violence in San Bernardino and bigotry across the country.  Tahir's leadership demonstrates tremendous pride and deep sensitivity.  And last night, in Santa Clara, he and others gathered hundreds to mourn the deaths of innocents and recommit our hearts and minds to justice and peace.  Isn't this exactly what our traditions require?  To lean into neighborliness and practice solidarity and stand together in dangerous times?

I was honored (and a bit surprised) that Tahir asked me to bring greetings from my congregation and tradition.  But I was glad to have the chance.  I recalled my dear friend Ghassan Manasra's teaching me the Qu'ranic tradition in which the Prophet Mohammed insists that God chose to create a world of diverse religious traditions.  And why did God do such a thing?  To teach us, of course, to love one another and inquire after one another and cultivate curiosity around one another's traditions!  

Even as I remembered Ghassan's teaching, I also recalled a speech Martin Luther King, Jr. gave early on in his ministry.  In it, he talked about the importance of being "maladjusted" to violence and oppression, to poverty and cruelty, to war and greed.  And he talked about the ways in which all the great prophets were just this: "maladjusted" and motivated to organize around alternative visions.  I asked the crowd in Santa Clara--a wonderfully colorful and committed crowd of Muslims and Jews and Christians and civic leaders--to be so "maladjusted" and to practice a kind of compassionate defiance, a kind of tender resilience in the face of so much ignorance.  "We can be the change," as Gandhi famously said, "that we wish to see in the world."

After the event, I was delighted to meet a number of new and enthusiastic friends, who welcomed me to their mosque and showed me around a bit.  Adam Malik (above) was particularly gracious and grateful for my presence, and I in turn was so touched by his kindness.
At the Muslim Community Association