Liberation in God's Image. Progressive Islam as an Islamic Humanism
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Liberation in God's Image. Progressive Islam as an Islamic Humanism
At the heart of a progressive Muslim interpretation is a simple yet radical idea: every human individual, female or male, Muslim or non-Muslim, rich or poor, of the “developed” North or “underdeveloped” South, has exactly the same intrinsic worth. The essential value of human life is God-given, and is in no way connected to culture, race, ethnicity, gender, geography, or privilege. A progressive Muslim is one who is committed to the strangely controversial idea that the true measure of a human being’s worth is a person’s character and not the oil under their soil or their particular flag. A progressive Muslim agenda is concerned with the ramifications of the premise that all members of the human race have this same intrinsic worth because each of us has the breath of God breathed into our being: /wa nafakhtu fihi min ruhi/. (Qur’an 15:29 and 38:72). This identification with the full humanity of all human beings amounts to nothing short of an Islamic Humanism, one that strives for affirming of dignity and sanctity of all human life through—and not outside—a religious context.
A goal of Passover is the simultaneous remembrance of our bondage in Egypt and God’s liberation of the Hebrews. While progressive Muslims honor the spiritual readings of bondage and liberation, they also insist that for billions around the planet, the bondage of Egypt is real in forms of poverty, occupation, exile, and humiliation. All of us deserve to worship a God who is committed to liberating all of God’s children. All of us deserve to enjoy this liberation, by the simple virtue of being human and being made in God’s image. An increasing number of those who advocate such a humanistic framework within the context of Islam have self-identified as progressive Muslims. ‘Progressive’ refers to a relentless striving towards a universal notion of justice in which no single community’s prosperity, righteousness, and dignity comes at the expense of another’s. Adherents of progressive Islam conceive of a way of being Muslim that engages and affirms the humanity of all human beings, that actively holds all of us responsible for a fair and just distribution of our God-given natural resources, and that seeks to live in harmony with the natural world. Safi introduces the idea of a humanistic framework allowing one to embrace the intrinsic worth of every individual. Such a progressive framework is seen as an inherent expression of an authentic Muslim identity. He concretizes the Passover story into the lived experience of the enslaved today. Professor Safi reminds us that for billions around the planet, the bondage of Egypt is real in forms of poverty, occupation, exile and humilliation. How do you remember those around the world who are "still in Egypt" during Passover? How does your religious identity compel you to embrace notions of universality?
All night long we have been reliving the story of the Exodus, striving to awaken our present consciousness to redemption. Moments ago the wave of the past finally broke over us, sweeping away the boundary between then and now as we burst into the praises of Hallel. Redemption was transformed from a story about our ancestors into the here and now and given life through our song. But in the midst of our excitement, a...
At Passover each year, we read the story of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. When confronting this history, how do we answer our children or our contacts when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?
WHAT DOES THE REVOLUTIONARY CHILD ASK?
“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”
Empower him always to seek pathways...
The world’s refugee camps are some of the most desolate backdrops against which people fleeing violence and persecution rebuild their lives. The Akre Refugee Camp in Iraq, which houses hundreds of Syrian families, was built out of the remains of a former Saddam Hussein prison. The Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, one of the world’s most populous refugee camps, consists of endless rows of beige tents and caravans...
Tonight we gather together to celebrate Passover, our holiday of freedom. We will eat a great meal together, enjoy (at least!) four glasses of wine, and tell the story of our ancestors’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. We welcome our friends and family members from other backgrounds to reflect with us on the meaning of freedom in all our lives and histories. We will consider...
The bitter herbs serve to remind us of how the Egyptians embittered the lives of the Israelites in servitude. When we eat the bitter herbs, we share in that bitterness of oppression. We must remember that slavery still exists all across the globe. When you go to the grocery store, where does your food come from? Who picked the sugar cane for your cookie,
or the coffee bean for your morning coffee? We are...
A word about God: everyone has his or her own understanding of what God is. For some people, there is no God, while for others, God is an integral part of their lives. While we may not agree on a singular concept of God, we share a common desire for goodness to prevail in the world. And this is the meaning of tonight: freedom winning out over slavery, good prevailing over evil.
Please consider the source of...
Four Cups Of Wine
Many people wonder why we drink four cups of wine on Passover. Well there are many reasons. First of all wine is a royal drink that symbolises freedom. So it seems appropriate to drink it on Passover because they became free. Also g-d convinced the Jews that they should leave Egypt using four statements, 1 I shall take you out, 2 I shall rescue you, 3 I shall redeem you, and 4 I shall...
Egypt, no sleet or snow for sure, not even rain or the usually hail.
Nourished only from an ancient wide stream,
On which women secretly shared the boy of redemption.
Our Seder recalls the signs and marvels, the plagues, the costly victory.
We will honor our timeless bread and play with sweet mortar; taste bitterness and tears.
We drink past our fill.
God will split their...
By Rabbi Melissa Klein, Rabbi Joanna Katz, Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Rabbi Jo Hirschmann, Susan Kaplow, Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell
This year, we add a padlock and a key to our seder plate.
Those of us who are blessed to live in our own homes tend to associate locks and keys with protection and access. Many of us have homes that keep us safe and that allow us to go in and out as we please. In contrast, for more...
As we wash our hands for the first time this evening, we remember that we have the freedom to access resources that many do not. Ask yourself these questions:
In what ways are we free today?
What does freedom mean for Jews in America? For Jews around the world?
What does freedom mean for people of all backgrounds around the world? Are there many who are not free?
More Clips from Truah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Hamotzi thanks God for bringing bread from the earth. This bread results from a partnership between God and humanity: God provides the raw materials and people harvest, grind, and bake. So too must we remember that combating human trafficking requires partnerships: among survivors, allies, lawyers, social workers, law enforcement, diplomats, people of faith…the circles of involvement are...
Our hands were touched by this water earlier during tonight's seder, but this time is different. This is a deeper step than that. This act of washing our hands is accompanied by a blessing, for in this moment we feel our People's story more viscerally, having just retold it during Maggid. Now, having re-experienced the majesty of the Jewish journey from degradation to dignity, we raise our hands in holiness, remembering...
The beauty of Urchatz was revealed to me during a women's seder. Each participant washed the hands of another with care and kavanah (intentionality)—and without words. The sisterhood created in the sacred silence elevates communal consciousness. How will we utilize this state of purity? V'ahavtah l're'echa kamochah - to love the other as ourself.
How will this ancient wisdom propel us...