I don’t know enough about Islam to have a public role as a leader in any capacity. My exploration of the Sunni-Shi’i divide over the last few years has made that clear to me, as the complexity of the formation of the Islamic tradition has overwhelmed my ability to provide definitive answers to many disputed questions, and I have found a dearth of scholars who are competent in both traditions (Sunni and Shi’i) to provide ready made answers for me.
I have known this for a long time. In my first two years of graduate school at Princeton, this became apparent to me, and so the resolution I had to deal with it then is the resolution I have now:
I am bound by taklif to every day try to do my best. To take care of my son. To be a good husband. To say my prayers. To remember God. To say salawat. To try to read or take a class to improve my knowledge. To try to attend gatherings of other Muslims that seem beneficial. To try to follow shari’a as best as I can understand it. To not ignore the injustices of the world, whether done by Muslims or people of other worldviews, whether in the present of the past.
But only God knows if my efforts will be enough. No one I have ever met has been able to guarantee me that my actions are pleasing to God.
And I am not required to be a leader.
A leader should be a real leader. Not someone like me who is just trying to make sense of 1400 years of Islamic history and thought, and figure out what it means for me as white guy living in New York City in 2017. I have already pulled back my responsibilities a lot. But it has become apparent to me that I need to retreat further.
God will question each and every one of us about our private lives. Any public responsibilities we have only add to the burden.
And so I am going to stop posting on this blog until further notice, and delete my Twitter account.
If there is a way I can serve you, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As your Muslim brother, it is your right over me that I share with you whatever I can of whatever it is that God has given me. But at this point in time, I don’t really know what to say other than to prepare for death and prepare to be questioned. If you don’t know what that means, this is how I advised myself and others in a previous post. Act on what you know, and trust that by doing so, God will give you knowledge of what you do not know.
May God be merciful to us, and overlook our imperfections, but it is God’s right to question us about everything. Everything we say and everything we do.
I don’t know how long I will be gone. At this point, the only real answer seems: however long it takes.
Dear God, please accept this from me, and bless all my brothers and sisters who have listened to me over the years. Save them from the evil that comes from me, and increase them in the good that comes only from You.