Season 2. Episode 9: Season Two Wrap-Up

Season 2. Episode 9: Season Two Wrap-Up

The Hurma Project Team reflects on lessons learned from the past season; includes comments from Mihad Fahmy, Ingrid Mattson, Maysa Haque, Faisal Bhabha, Tamara Gray, Hind Makki, Iman Boundaoui, Jaye Starr, Joshua Salaam and Mohamed Magid.

Season Two Wrap-Up Transcript

The following transcript has been edited for fluency.


[00:00:00] Dr. Ingrid Mattson: Hello, as-salāmu ʿalaykum. Welcome to the Hurma Project Podcast, a show where we seek to close the gap between our Islamic values and our Muslim community realities. I’m Dr. Ingrid Mattson, founder of the Huma Project, which I direct with my friend and partner, Mihad Fahmy, a human rights lawyer and workplace investigator, and a lecturer at Huron University College where I am also Chair of Islamic Studies.

Hurma is an Islamic legal term signifying the divinely granted inviolability of the human person from abuse, assault, and exploitation. In this podcast, we speak with experts from a variety of fields about how to prevent and respond to violations against all those who are present in Muslim spaces. This is the final episode of season two of the Hurma Project Podcast, and today the Hurma Project team is looking back at some of the issues which have been addressed by experts who have shared their knowledge with us this season, and we’ll be looking ahead to what is next for the Hurma Project.

Joining Mihad and I today is Maysa Haque, part-time research assistant for the Hurma Project and full-time doctoral student at the University of British Columbia’s Social Justice Institute. And behind the scenes helping to run the show is Maram Albakri, Hurma Project, administrative assistant and communications coordinator.

Maysa and Maram have reviewed the conversations Mihad and I have had with our guest experts over this season, and they found some common themes as well as some matters that need more discussion or clarification. So for today’s program, Maysa will play us some audio clips and ask us for some comments. Mihad and I will do our best to respond.

Okay, Maysa, bissmillah. Please begin.

[00:02:18] Maysa Haque: Okay, so we’re gonna start today, I guess, with the heaviest topics and then we’ll kind of move forward and end with some more hopeful notes. So the first two quotes I’m gonna play; in the first one, Iman Boundaoui from episode eight, she speaks about how dissociation both on an individual and communal level is one kind of traumatic response to having experienced harm. And then Faisal Bhabha from episode five speaks about the cultural concealment following disclosures of traumatic events in Muslim communities such as sexual misconduct and assault, and how this concealment leads to naivete in Muslim communities.

[00:03:01] Iman Boundaoui: If in the space people are being harmed or their dignity is being compromised, then people go into self-protection mode and basically only choose to engage in that community on a very cursory level in order to protect themselves from that harm, from that unsafety, from that lack of dignity that is being generated inside the community.

[00:03:25] Faisal Bhabha: It was surprising to me when the revelations that started to come out in the sort of Muslim me too movement of all these people across the continent, the world Muslim leaders being exposed. The level of shock that was displayed within the community. It showed how naive we were, and I think it’s not because those things hadn’t been happening. It’s not because those things hadn’t been dealt with even. But I think it’s because of this culture of concealment that you’ve just addressed, that I think left average members of the community totally ignorant and naive.

[00:04:06] Maysa Haque: Faisal in these quotes, I think Faisal and Iman are really speaking about two distinct issues. First, the trauma response of those who have directly experienced harm, and then second, how communities respond to disclosures of traumatic events that have occurred in their communities or have occurred to a community member. So what comes up for both of you when you’re listening to these quotes, do you think that it’s possible to create healthy cultural change around them. And how do these issues relate to the current and future work of the Hurma Project?

[00:04:43] Mihad Fahmy: I think you’re right. They’re both talking about community responses to trauma. Both our individual responses and the communities response. And I think Iman touched on that quite a bit in the episode. But I think what we have to keep in mind, or what I try to remind myself of, I think we all have to remind ourselves, is that just as we’re so diverse, our communities are very diverse in so many different ways. Our responses are gonna be different. Our responses to this kind of harm and trauma, whether we experience it or whether we hear about it, is just going to be so individual and we need to make space for that. I think we need to develop empathy for the way that each of us responds to the trauma and try to understand where the other person is coming from. So you know, the naivete that Faisal talks about, I think we shouldn’t see that having a negative connotation. Somebody might say, “oh, you know, you have your head in the sand. Where have you been? Could you not have known that this is happening?” And I think that might be the case that some people may not be as aware, but that doesn’t take away from they’re hurt and their shock when they do come to know of the abuse that may have happened in their community. So I feel that we need to be aware of the way that we respond differently and really try to understand and try to have empathy for one another.

[00:06:25] Dr. Ingrid Mattson: Yeah, I look at this from the perspective of maybe leadership and certainly. , I- I’m someone who has been the last four years of the Hurma Project, learning about these issues and I look back on how I handled situations in the past that may be in some ways, related to these issues and think, wow, I, I really could have done better. So, we’re all learning, but what I see as consistent in these two observations is that leadership often thinks that the best way to protect the community is to handle matters of abuse and violations of trust in their minds discreetly and believing that this way people will be shielded from the harm of knowing about this and experiencing shock or disillusionment.

But in fact, what we see is that this is not protective of the community. That lack of transparency leads to a lot of problems because inevitably, as Iman Boundaoui talks about, people will feel that something is wrong. People will feel that something’s off, and it may be that there are some individuals in the community who know what’s going on, but in general, there’s this sense that something is happening, but no one really knows. And now you have a community that’s feeling wary, that is kind of looking out for, why is it that they feel that something’s happening and they don’t know? And that really destroys trust. It makes people closed off. And so often we hear people talk about, you know, entering a space and not feeling that sense of warmth and connection they don’t really feel at home. We even have, I remember both Dr. Rania Awaad and therapists Selma Abugideiri in season one talking about this gut feeling, right? Something’s off. So we see that again and again, that by not being transparent, in a responsible way, it doesn’t mean exposing all of the details that are unnecessary, but by not being transparent with the community, there’s a feeling of unease that’s created in the community.

And then also what happens next as Faisal Bhabha points out is that when, at least in some cases, the abuse is finally publicly exposed and usually at the expense of the victims who have, you know, not found justice. And so they actually have to put themselves on the front line and, you know, face all of these reactions of being disbelieved. So what’s harmful to the people who have experienced abuse, but it’s also harmful to the community. Because rather than having leadership be very thoughtful about how are we going to help our community process the shock of what has happened, the community is now left on their own. They hear about this through social media or some other way, and each one of them is hurt and left to respond in their own way. So what we have to understand as leaders, is that it is our responsibility to make the hard choices and even though it’s awkward, even though it’s painful, this is our responsibility to deal with these issues and help our community prepare for them and to process them, not just run away from them thinking that somehow this is more protective of everyone.

[00:10:21] Maysa Haque: Yeah, I think that’s a really important point. I remember reading in The Faith Trust Institute’s Handbook on Clergy misconduct, they actually have a whole chapter on how after you’ve done all the investigative processes and you’ve kind of done that institutional piece there, it’s really important to go back to the congregation and process what happened with them and give them some information about it. And then they even talk about how if it was a very egregious case that was, very upsetting and like very poignant. You might even need to on the anniversary the next year of that event to like check in with your congregation just to see how they’re doing because sometimes those feelings come up.

So I think we’re gonna talk a little bit now about some of those ethical standards and accountability. So the next two quotes address the issue of creating ethical standards and having accountability within our communities, and they address this on two levels. First, at the level of the individual who holds authority, such as the figure of the Imam, the chaplain or the Quran teacher, as will be illustrated by Imam Magid from episode four. And then the next quote that will play is we’re returning to Iman Boundaoui from episode eight, and she speaks about the second level of creating a system or a culture of ethics, not just at the individual level, but at the community level.

[00:11:39] Imam Magid: What it is very important to establish standards for person who teaching Qur’an, who teaching Islam, to establish the standards of the school environment, to establish a status for training for teachers and principals. It is very important that they have basic guidelines and how the children been treated. Very interesting that the mother of Imam Malik said to him, “I’m sending you to a teacher named and she said, I want you to learn from his manners and etiquette before you learn from his books. That is a wise mother, she chose a teacher who she knows his morals.

[00:12:13] Iman Boundaoui: So just because we create third spaces doesn’t mean we leave behind all of the ways that we’ve been deeply shaped to avoid conversations around abuse and sexual abuse and harm. And so unless when we create third spaces, we are also addressing the deep cultural shaping that we all bring into those spaces. Then, when under pressure, when there is a disclosure, all of that same deeply embodied cultural reactivity and behavior around talking about abuse addressing it comes out and manifests in almost the same exact way it would have manifested if we were in the more sort of traditional institutions and spaces. So it’s not enough to just create new space. We also have to create a new rule book. We also have to retrain and reshape the individual community.

[00:13:13] Maysa Haque: So both Imam Magid and Iman Boundaoui, they’re emphasizing that we need to establish standards at all levels to reshape ourselves and retrain, or train for the first time our communities to respond to different levels of disclosure. And I’m just wondering, so does it make sense that we need different levels of ethical standards for different individuals or for within our communities? And I’m thinking that maybe it might be a common thought maybe in Muslim community is that we should just be able to solve these issues by just striving to do our best and be good Muslims. And why does this require so much intentional planning and work and levels?

[00:13:52] Dr. Ingrid Mattson: There’s a lot of deep wisdom here, and I want to connect it back to something that is consistent throughout our Islamic tradition, which is that our environment, our habits, our company shapes who we are. So there may be in a kind of dualistic or dichotomous view of the human being, mind body, there may be those who think that if we just have the right ideas or if we have the right knowledge, we’ll do the right thing. But the Islamic tradition has always understood that we have a lot of instinctive reactions, that our habits shape how we even interpret the knowledge that we have. So it’s really important for us as a community to create a context and to create good habits individually and as a community that will facilitate and enable us to do the right thing, to make the right choices. So it’s not enough simply to know what our values and principles are, but we need to. Be in the habit together collectively and individually of making the right choices. This is what discipline is. This is what tarbiya is. It’s also why we have so many standards in Islam for our collective life. So what this means is that we shouldn’t feel that, and this is why our kind of informal motto for the Hurma Project is, closing the gap between our Islamic values and our Muslim community realities, is that it’s not that when we don’t make the right choice, that we’re all necessarily hypocrites, but it’s that we may not have created the environment and the supportive structures to be able to choose the right thing and even what, understand what is the right thing within our context.

[00:15:55] Mihad Fahmy: And the reality is that our communities are made up of relationships and in those relationships are inherent power imbalances. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think we’ve talked to a number of guests who have highlighted what it is you do with that once you realize that you’re in a position of power. But the reality is that things can go wrong when there is that power imbalance between two individuals, whether it be student- teacher. Especially if the student is a child in a similar to the situation that Imam Magid was talking about, Imam, congregant, in other contexts outside of the religious context, coach, player, manager, employee. This is the reality of our various relationships. And so in order for those relationships to work in a healthy way, I think there’s a need to think about what boundaries need to be set. What standards need to be drawn out and what accountability structures need to be created in order to hold those with power accountable. Because ultimately we’re responsible as a community to prevent harm and to then respond to that harm if you know, if it happens. So I think we just need to really be cognizant, all of us in our different roles where power lies. And I think that’s something that really, it was a recurring theme in many of our conversations and one that really has stayed with me is when Brother Joshua spoke about not realizing the way that other people perceive you. He said, you know, in your head and to yourself, you are a regular person moving around in the world. But as a chaplain for him, himself holding that position, students and others look up to him as somebody with all this authority, knowledge, experience. And needing to remind ourselves of how we’re perceived by others, I think really is a way of holding our own power and religion check.

[00:18:11] Dr. Ingrid Mattson: I also wanna add here that ethics and standards and principles, codes of conduct, for example, none of these things will be effective unless people believe in them and people understand the need for them. And one of our challenges as a North American or Western Muslim community is that we are comprised of people from so many different cultural backgrounds. You know, as you’ve said, Mihad and what really strikes me when I look back at Islamic history and how administratively different Muslim communities have dealt with these issues over time is that in every community, There are particular cultural practices that support the values and the traditions.

We are living in a multicultural Muslim society, and there’s a lot of beauty in there, but it also means that we don’t necessarily have a shared culture that supports our values and our principles and our ethics. And so there’s sometimes we just don’t really understand where others are coming from, and we just think the easiest way to live together is we just get rid of cultural practices. But in fact, these cultural practices very often are the things that are manifestations of the ethics and values. So we do have to, in this new context, consciously build a culture of of respect and accountability. A culture that supports our values in a way that sometimes might seem artificial, but it’s simply necessary because we can’t wait for 200 years of a kind of natural development of some shared culture and cultural practices to develop. There’s too much harm going on in the meantime. So we need to intervene in a direct way and in a conscious way, to try to develop these habits and practices as artificial as they may seem at the beginning, but over time, they’ll become natural and instinctive.

[00:20:25] Maysa Haque: I had a follow up question. So I guess kind of going back to one of the points you made, Mihad, you were speaking about power dynamics and how having power in relationships isn’t necessarily a bad thing it’s kind of inevitable. So when we’re thinking about creating this culture and having, you know, creating these intentional ways of being with each other is that the responsibility of the people, of the leaders, of the people with authority in our communities to be creating that culture and creating those systems of accountability. So like what is the role for a person who maybe doesn’t have the power in the relationship or who isn’t that person of authority? How do they play a role in that process?

[00:21:04] Mihad Fahmy: Yeah, I think that’s a really good question. I think that it’s a shared responsibility, but. it does primarily lie with the person or the group that holds the power. I don’t think, that’s not to say that there is no rule for those who don’t hold power, to raise questions, to propose solutions and different ways of doing things, but I think that to create a new system, if we’re talking about our Muslim communities, the reality is that those systems of accountability usually come from the top down. If we’re talking about boards in terms of passing policies and governance structures and accountability frameworks, all of those things have to happen through the existing governance structure that’s in place. So I think ultimately the responsibility lies with those who hold power.

[00:21:58] Dr. Ingrid Mattson: Yeah, it’s interesting to think about who holds power in our community, because of course, our boards come from the community. . So it’s the community members who will gather and if they, depending on the governance structure, if it’s a membership based organization, will elect the board. And then the board has the responsibility to set policies and to set human resource, policies of supervision and accountability, also grievance processes. So that if there is a problem, that it can be handled hopefully before it gets out of hand. I think when we talk about power very often, and sometimes it’s, you know, in some cases, maybe even the word influence might be more appropriate in some cases, but whether someone has power or influence it’s always relational and contextual and, very often we jump immediately to the person who may have violated a trust, and certainly each person is responsible for their actions.

And at the same time we also could have a collective responsibility for what happens. So it’s not an either or, but both the individual and the community could hold some responsibility when a violation happens. If, for example we put in power that person or those persons who then abuse the trust. But we’ve chosen to place those people in power without really scrutinizing their background in a deep and effective way. We hire someone who’s not trained for the job, so for example, we hire an imam who, because they have a beautiful Quran recitation, but then they spend 85% of their time engaged in counseling congregants who have serious problems, whether they’re youth or married couples or others. This person isn’t even trained for counseling yet. Now we’ve put them in that position and expect them to do that job I think it’s important for us to understand is, as you said, Mihad, this is a shared responsibility and there is at the same time, in addition to that shared responsibility, the individual accountability of the person who’s engaging in a violation of their position of trust. And I mean, that’s how we need to understand what it means to be a teacher in the Islamic community or a youth leader, or an Imam or a board member. This is amana, a trust that the community has placed on this individual. And if we’re going to take those positions, if we choose freely to take those positions and no one’s forcing us to take them, then we are going to be accountable for what we do with that power or influence.

[00:25:00] Mihad Fahmy: And precisely because it is anana for that person to be in that board position. Then I would say similarly, it’s a trust for them to seek out the information, the resources, everything that they need in order to carry out that trust. I wouldn’t say that’s the same responsibility that a community member has, but once you’re in that position, once you’re on that board, then I think that you’ve accepted the trust. And so you have to you have to find the resources to carry it out. And part of that is implementing policies, as you said, that will ensure the safety of the community members.

[00:25:42] Maysa Haque: Yeah. Thank you. So I think that is a good transition to our next topic. So far we’ve been talking about issues faced by individual community members and then issues faced by communities as a whole. And for the second half of this conversation, we wanted to continue this, but in a maybe a more hopeful direction and talk about kind of the creative and generative potential we have to reimagine our Muslim spaces, communities, and relationships to each other. So I think it’s really helpful to start at the level of individual relationships, because this is likely an area that most people can relate to and feel the most empowered to think about and perhaps make some changes. So we’re gonna hear quotes describing two types of interpersonal relationships. The first is Dr. Tamara Gray from episode one describing healthy student teacher relationships and the importance of mutual respect. And the second is from episode seven where AMC members and chaplains, Dr. Joshua Salam and Jay Starr speak about the importance and benefits of men and women who are in leadership positions working together and listening to each other.

[00:26:50] Dr. Tamara Gray: I think that healthy relationship is one of respect on both. And I think it’s unusual to hear that, but I don’t think it’s unusual to hear it coming from the student to the teacher. I think we hear that a lot, and there might be a lot of different ways of defining that, but I also think it’s critical that the teacher has respect for the students.

[00:27:09] Jaye Starr: I really think Allah (swt) has made us as partners in this work that we both bring, the men and women and individuals within each of those groups bring really important pieces to the table. And I can think of multiple occasions where an AMC member has either put out a question within one of our sort of chat groups, or they’ve called me directly and they’ve asked a question. And because I’ve been able to bring a different gendered experience into it, we’re able to understand the issue differently and that same thing happens for me going the other direction where layers kind of get peeled back just at a very basic level.

[00:27:43] Joshua Salaam: Because when you have a council of imams and it’s 20 to 50 men, it comes from a good place of, “Hey, we’re all imams, let’s come together and let’s talk and about what we’re gonna do in the community. When’s Eid gonna be, what problems are you going- You know, what’s going with us, we’re one ummah.” It comes from a good place. But as I said earlier about knowing, seeing it from somebody else’s perspective, I think it’s important to see that you are deficient when you have all men. Just knowing it that you’re, even if you don’t wanna call it deficient, we’re obviously gonna be limited in our view, right? If you’re all white, if you’re all black, if you’re all tall, if you’re all short and you come together, your mindset, your perspectives is limited because you don’t have other people in there giving you different perspectives.

[00:28:30] Maysa Haque: So just listening to those quotes, I really love listening to our beloved teachers and chaplains speaking about their experiences of healthy working and learning relationships. I think most Muslims believe that this is what our religion teaches, that we should be treating each other well in relationships, that we should be respecting each other. So my question is simple. Why do we seem to fall short of this ideal in real life so often?

[00:28:57] Mihad Fahmy: So the quote by Dr. Tamara really is one of my favorites because she is speaking about a relationship that I think we usually think of as one-sided as opposed to reciprocal. So she’s saying that the teacher-student relationship needs to be defined by mutual respect, and it’s just so applicable to so many other relationships that are similarly on the surface, one-sided. And so I think that kind of answers your question Maysa in terms of why, why do we not come at them from that position of mutual respect? Because the assumption is that the teacher is the one giving. The student is the one receiving. The one thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about is the mentor-mentee relationship. And again, the assumption is that the mentor is the one that has something to give, and the mentee is receiving, parent- child. But as we enter into these relationships, you come to discover is that both parties have so much to learn from each other. , you know, whether it be knowledge, skills, or even just learning about each other’s life experiences and if the teacher opens herself for himself up to that I think that there’s a lot to gain and that mutual respect then can be cultivated. But even setting that aside, I think what Dr. Tamara is saying is, even if there’s nothing to gain let’s assuming that it really is only the teacher conveying knowledge or skills or guidance to the student. At the more basic, fundamental level, it’s the respect for human dignity that has to guide all of our relationships.

But I think that the reason why, getting at your question, the reason why that doesn’t necessarily play out in practice, part of it I think is in some cases fear of giving up that sort of upper hand, you know, being in that again position, there’s also fear on the part of the student to offer something to the teacher in terms of entering into that relationship. There’s always, I think a sense of sometimes gratitude when these kinds of relationships are entered into, and so you feel grateful that the teacher is guiding you, teaching you. It’s the same for a mentor mentee. And so I think there’s a lot to kind of unpack there as to the why, but I think that fundamentally we need to re remind ourself, kind of reground ourself in terms of, at the end of the day, we’re dealing with human dignity and respect for that.

[00:31:49] Dr. Ingrid Mattson: Yeah, that’s so true, Mihad. And it’s certainly one of the reasons why this research project is called the Hurma Project is about sacred and inviolability and also respect and dignity. This core Islamic belief that every human being, every single human being has been created with this sacred dignity, and we should never deny that. I think it’s also, I mean, there’s a few things I would like to say in response to this, why sometimes we don’t see this kind of mutually beneficial and respectful relationship. One Is simply heedlessness and we all fall into this. You know, I think it’s very easy for any one of us because we are so busy, we’re running from one thing to the next. Running from being busy at work, to being busy in our community work to a lot of things going on in the home. For us to simply just fall into making shortcuts, you know, we wanna get through something and so we don’t give people the time and the attention that they deserve, and we don’t give, we don’t turn to people and really listen to them in a way that will, of course, not only recognize their dignity but will also benefit us. So that as we are making decisions, if we’re in a position of leadership or authority, even in the family, that we’re acting on the basis of really understanding what is needed by the family or what is really needed in the community or what their concerns are. We just need to slow down a little bit, all of us. I would say be more attentive and take the time to prioritize relationships and listening. So that’s something for all of us that we all could do and we all need to do, I believe. I certainly know that I need to remind myself of that. all the time. But the other thing is a, as I look over the Islamic tradition as it’s unfolded from the beginning of the time of the revelation, of the Qur’an and the of the Prophet Muhammad sallalahu ‘alayhe wa sallam, is that we do see that there is this constant pressure or introduction of certain kinds of ideologies. Some of them are pre-Islamic, whether pre-Islamic from the Arabian Peninsula or the pre-Islamic imperial traditions of the ancient Near East. And throughout time we see that it is the most common thing for human societies to end up with a ideology of extreme hierarchy where there are some people who have all the authority and power and other people who simply need to obey and listen. You know, some people are born to rule and some people are born to serve. And the beauty of Islam at its core, the message of tawhid, the message of the equality of humanity, and the message of the finality of the last prophet. You know, the fact that Muhammad ‘alayhe assalatu wa sallam, is the last prophet is that after him, it really is on all of us as human beings and as believers together to co-create our community and our lives together. And within that community, there are going to be people who have expertise and knowledge and abilities and capacities that are distinct and that can serve certain purposes that other people don’t have. But there’s never who should be as it were? The Pharaoh of our community and the rest of the people being slaves. So this is a tendency within human beings and we constantly have to resist this. This is a fight for the very soul of ourselves as individuals and as community members. And like with many things that are wrong, with many things that are evil, with many instances of systemic oppression, they begin with small things and they often begin with carelessness, with mindlessness, with just not, you know, small missteps. So when you have a group or you have a parent, or you have someone in position of authority who is simply not listening to others, or not meeting with others or not consulting with others. Their initial intention may have been let’s just to get together a group of us who hold similar positions so we could share knowledge and support each other. But over time, that can develop into a kind of echo chamber and a very powerful echo chamber and hierarchy that excludes the rest of the community. And it may not have begun that way, but it can end up that way. And I think we all just have to, one, be very humble and realize that we’re all susceptible to negative forces. We’re all susceptible to arrogance and to being nudged along the path of becoming something other than what we hope to be at the beginning. And we also have to, in a systemic way, integrate the values of shura, , of correction of islah into our communities so that when we do start to go down the wrong path, that we can correct it early along before it gets to the point where it seems insurmountable.

[00:37:37] Maysa Haque: So we’re going to zoom out now from individual and interpersonal relationships and talk about our Muslim community dynamics and the potential we have for transformation within our own communities and the wider world around us. So the next two quotes are quotes that I found really helpful and inspiring. The first is from episode three, where Hind Makki speaks about both the importance of making mosques dignified spaces for women, and also about how North American Muslim communities are uniquely diverse, and how this could help us to reimagine and recreate Muslim communities that are truly suited to our needs. The second and final quote is from episodefive, in which Faisal Bhabhaba speaks about how Muslim communities have this amazing potential and opportunity to use our ethical practices and worldviews to develop more just and compassionate organizations for ourselves, but also for our wider societies.

[00:38:35] Hind Makki: The broader national Muslim communities in the US and Canada are racially diverse and you would be a fool not to acknowledge that. Racial and cultural diversity manifests itself in the way that mosques are being run. And so I think this is something that in a lot of European countries where you have a super-majority among the Muslims from one particular ethnic group, depending on the country, they’re very intrigued by a racially diverse Muslim community and what that means, especially younger people who are maybe third, fourth generation and are integrating more than their parents and their grandparents with each other, and they’re thinking, okay, what does it mean to create a mosque that is thoroughly British, thoroughly German, or thoroughly Dutch? It can’t be the way mosques were run in Pakistan, Turkey, or Morocco. They have to be reimagined. And in that reimagination, they’re reimagined as racially, ethnically, diverse spaces.

[00:39:34] Faisal Bhabha: Muslims have values and norms that are universal and also have values and norms that are particular to us. And I think if we develop institutional practices internally within our organizations, and experiment with those. We could end up with outcomes that are not only beneficial to our communities, but that we can use to teach other communities, for example, on the integration of justice and compassion, which is something that is really prominent in the Muslim ethical worldview, but which I think is kind of outta whack in our secular justice system. And so I think there are many possibilities, and that means a true opportunity for cultural integration and exchange.

[00:40:20] Maysa Haque: I feel like these last two quotes illustrate what I find really hopeful and exciting about the Hurma Project. We’ve listened to people speak about some really heavy issues on this podcast, which is important, and I think it’s also important to be reminded that despite all these issues, we have a lot of potential to benefit our own Muslim communities and also non-Muslim communities around us. So Dr. Mattson and Mihad, you have both been doing community work for a long time and you’ve dealt with some very heavy issues. Do you both still feel hopeful, and if so, how do you maintain that sense of hope and of potential?

[00:40:54] Mihad Fahmy: A couple of things. First is that I’ve become quite intentional about what I consume. So I think, and this kind of goes back to the beginning of our conversation about being aware of what’s happening. Being aware, clearly through this work, you’re, you know, exposed, involved to, as you said, in heavy issues. But I think we all run the risk of losing hope if that is all that we surround ourselves with. And so what I try to do is be intentional about also consuming. Seems to be a new way of exposing myself, learning from others whom I find hopeful, inspiring. And part of that in the last couple years has been these conversations, being able to have conversations with people, as you said, who are doing really interesting work that gives me hope in terms of where the community and our communities are going. And so I think that we run the risk of just becoming, and I worry about this when it comes to our youth, only seeing the challenges and only seeing the obstacles as opposed to seeing the really creative programming that’s happening in our communities. The really humble and generous teachers and leaders and Imams, some of whom we’ve spoken to during, you know, many of these episodes. And I think it’s important that when we do come across those very special individuals and initiatives, that we uplift them in a way that is still, and I don’t mean to put them on a pedestal, but to express appreciation for the important work that they do. To share what it is, , what they can offer to others. And so I guess that’s the first point is just as I said being intentional about not being in an echo chamber of negativity. So let’s just try to balance the challenges that surround us with the advancements in the and of hope that really are there in our community.

The other thing that I would say is that we need to be careful about talking in our local communities, and I’m talking about at the local level, is to avoid thinking of institutions as they and us, and this is something that I have to remind myself of. There used to be a time when we were, our communities were much smaller and we were all us, right? We all worked together to build our communities and as our communities grew in institutions multiplied, there was a lot more of, you know, a sense of owner over institutions. A sense of ownership over communities. And I think that if we fall into that trap, then we also may become armchair critics. And that’s something that really frightens me because I think that then we’ve lost a sense of investment in our own communities and our own affairs, and we will simply be a commentator on what we’re seeing happening. And so I would encourage people to, push against that sense of being an outsider or being, leaving the fairs of a community or an institution to the board or to another group of people. Find something that you can get involved in, even on a small level. Don’t limit yourself to one institution. Don’t be exclusive to one group of people.

These spaces are spaces of service Allah (swt) and places of, when we’re talking about masajid, they’re houses of a law and we all have not only responsibility, but a place in them. And so these are all reminders to myself as well. But these are ways that I think we can continue to be engaged and continue to develop a sense of hope because I think that the more distant we are, then it’s more likely that we’re gonna lose that sense of hope, because the more we work with and find people who are trying to serve the community in a genuine and humble way, the more you will foster that sense of hope and then, you know, encourage yourself to also become engaged. So those are just a couple of thoughts that I’d like to share.

[00:45:36] Maysa Haque: Dr. Mattson, similar, you’ve been doing community work for a long time. How do you kind of deal with the heavy issues you’ve heard about and dealt with, and how do you kind of balance that and maintain a sense of hope and sense of potential for our Muslim communities?

[00:45:50] Dr. Ingrid Mattson: Any issue that we are dealing with in the Muslim community can be found anywhere else, right? Power dynamics that lead to abuse or oppression, violations of trust. All of these things can be found in any sector in society. Just look at what’s happening in sport or what’s being revealed about what’s happening in sport these days, and that comes after a couple decades of revelations of things that you know, of abuse and misconduct in the Catholic church, in other Christian churches in business. All sorts of things. So this is a human issue, but then why do we need to deal with it from a Muslim perspective? Some may say it happens everywhere, it’s not something that Muslims necessarily need to deal with. Well, there’s two reasons why we deal with these issues. One is that every context has its own particularities. So well, issues of violations of trust and abuse of authority, and all of these things can be found anywhere. How they manifest within any particular sector or institution is particular and needs its own responses.But in addition to that, and this is where the hope comes in the reality is that as Muslims, we. Tremendous resources and our solutions and our resources, I think more easily accessible, clearer, more evident than in many other contexts. After four years of engaging in this work, I’m more hopeful than ever.About our ability to tackle these issues because we have the values and the principles that are necessary for correction. We also have, as Mihad said, we have so many people in our community who are tremendously knowledgeable about different areas that we need to tackle, whether from the therapeutic side or the legal side.

Really smart people who are very dedicated and committed to the community who are. Enthusiastic about about helping with improvement. So I think all of these things are just wonderful. And I would say the other thing that we have I always I really love what Hind Makki said, and it has been my experience in North America generally, but in the United States of America in particular, which has a, I think, more racial and ethnic diversity even than in Canada or at least a greater representation from the black community. So the historic African American community really has set examples for us in terms of anti-oppressive practice and of self-correction in a way that doesn’t always mean that we just, we just engage in a punitive response. And I think Lauren Schreiber mentioned that in our conversation about accountability and what the Association of Muslim Chaplains is trying to do in terms of holding themselves and each other accountable to their own code of conduct. The African American community has suffered under a carceral and punitive system tremendously. And out of that experience one of the things that they’ve shown us is that while there are some people who are simply outright predators, sociopaths, what, you know, whatever, however we may categorize them, and from we need to be protected. That in many cases, that when people go astray or when they do wrong or when they experience wrong, when they experience harm and then are blamed actually end up being blamed for the harm that they’ve received, that we have to go deeper. That we have to look at the systems of justice. We have to look at the systems within our community that enable oppression and work for those corrective measures and relationships that disable these oppressive structures.

[00:50:09] Mihad Fahmy: In this final episode, we reflected upon some of the themes explored throughout season two of the Harder Project Podcast. It is clear that in order to understand, prevent, and address spiritual abuse, we need to understand the many facets of power dynamics, recognize how individuals and communities respond to trauma and begin to envision ways of building accountability into our governance structures.

We are grateful to all of our guests who generously helped us peel back the many layers to this pressing issue with sincerity, humility, and love for their communities. Our intention in having these discussions was to help us close the gap between our Islamic values and our Muslim community realities. But perhaps the first step in doing so is arriving at the conclusion and having the certainty that closing this gap is indeed possible. We hope that in learning along. You too have arrived at this certainty and are inspired to continue your learning, share the knowledge you have gained with others, and become engaged in your communities.

Next up for the Hurma Project, inshAllah, will be turning our attention to developing resources for our communities to understand. Prevent and respond to abuses of power. We will be drawing upon what we’ve learned over two seasons of this podcast, as well as research conducted by scholars in related fields. We will also be integrating what we have learned from the many survivors of abuse who have shared in confidence their difficult experiences with us. We are grateful for their trust and inspired by their courage. We look forward to sharing more with you in the future and are always happy to receive your feedback and comments.

Finally, we’d like to thank our funders Pillars Fund, and the Waraich Family Foundation and the El Hibri Foundation for supporting the work of the Hurma Project. This final episode was produced by Carlay Ream-Neal, with additional assistance provided by our Maram Albakri and Maysa Haque, our two research assistants. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us. As-salāmu ʿalaykum .