Lamppost provides a window into the rich Islamic tradition through the eyes of contemporary American Muslim scholars, intellectuals, activists, and leaders. We offer to the public: live and pre-recorded webinars, classes, books, essays, and onsite enrichment programs dealing with the topics of Islam, Muslims, and the socio-cultural dynamics of American society. Our contributors offer expert analysis of current events which affect Muslims in the West as well as offerings in the classical Islamic disciplines.
- Online Islamic Courses and Presentations
- Onsite Courses, Seminars & Workshops
- Islamic Books
- An Online Resource for American Scholars Dedicated to the American Reality
The Lamppost Education Initiative is guided by the following religio-social values:
- Knowledge (al-‘ilm)
- Context (al-waqi’)
- Courage (al-shaja’a)
- Honesty (al-sidq)
- Wisdom (al-hikma)
- Justice (al-‘adl)
- Integrity (al-amana)
- Beauty (al-jamal)
The Mission of the Lamppost Education Initiative is to facilitate access to the unique intellectual contributions of a select number of Muslim American scholars, inspire spiritual and social transformation, and empower through education.
We envision Lamppost as playing a positive role in promoting a clear and accurate picture of Islam and addressing the moral and socio-political concerns of American/American-born Muslims who are eager to preserve, secure, and gain inclusion for Islam in the American historical narrative and religio-cultural mosaic.
We endeavor to awaken the dormant potential of the American Muslim community by challenging them to take ownership of their collective destiny. That is by instilling within them the confidence needed to steer themselves toward a genuine Islamic renewal that takes into consideration the myriad social challenges faced by all peoples of all races and classes.
The Lamppost Commitment to Context
The great Egyptian Maliki legal scholar of the 13th century, Shihab al-Din al-Qarafi (1228-1285 CE), famously said in his groundbreaking work, Al-Furuq,
“…Do not spend your life frozen upon what is recorded in the [law]books. Rather, if a person from a region other than your own comes to you seeking a fatwa, do not impose the custom of your town upon him. Nay! Ask him about the custom of his own town and address him [and his need]in accord with it, issuing fatwa in light of it instead of the custom of your own town and what is established in your [law]books. This is the unadulterated truth. The blind commitment to laws transmitted, without pause, is misguidance in religion and [a sign of]ignorance of the goals of Muslim scholars and the early forbears…”
Although it has become popular on the tongues of many Muslims to speak of the importance of “indigenizing Islam in the West”, not every person who speaks of indigenization has the same meaning in mind. For some this means yielding to secular standards of morality and casting off the “strictures” of medieval religious norms and sensibilities; for some it means overcoming the Muslim versus American false dichotomy in the minds of many Muslims and securing space for the Islamic legitimacy of popular western cultural expression; for others indigenization means to increase Muslim presence in Western public life and service; while others believe that the demands of indigenization are to highlight the inseparable intersection between European and Islamic civilizations through the enterprise of higher education.
At Lamppost, we see ourselves as part of the overall effort to indigenize Islam in America as well. For us, however, a particular goal of ours is to augment the cultural, religious, and academic authority of American voices who we believe constitute some of the most authentic representatives of Islam’s historical legacy and members of America’s cultural nucleus.
We believe, like our predecessors in Muslim lands, that fatwas should take into consideration, if not reflect, the cultural nuances of the societies wherein those fatwas are to be applied. This doesn’t merely mean that we believe that a fatwa should issue from a scholar who knows both the recorded law and the cultural context which may obviate the valid applicability of an ancient law. It also means that we do not necessarily believe that a single fatwa can be universally applied to the entire planet. Rather, we even believe that it is possible for a single fatwa to not even apply in certain regions of one given country in light of the diversity of culture.
The focus on America and American scholars should not be read as a sign that the Lamppost Education Initiative has no concern for what’s happening anywhere else. By no means! If anything, it should read as a sign that we encourage others living in other countries, states, cities, and villages to center their jurisprudence primarily on their local needs and communal aspirations.
Board of Directors
- Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, Founder & President
- Khalil Muhsin, Vice-President
- Jeremiah Abiade, Secretary
- Masood Siddique, Member
- Zaynab Ansari, Member
- Faatimah Knight, Member
- Dawud Walid, Member
- Eram M. Uddin, Member