Ep. 85: Abdul-Rehman Malik
Abdul-Rehman Malik is an award winning journalist, educator and cultural organizer. In June 2019 he was appointed Lecturer and Associate Research Scholar at the Yale Divinity School. He also serves at the Program Coordinator at Yale University’s Council on Middle East Studies, and is responsible for developing curricula and partnerships with public schools to promote better cultural, language and religious literacy about the Middle East to educators and students alike. Abdul-Rehman also serves as Director of the Muslim Leadership Lab, an innovative student leadership program being incubated at the Dwight Hall Center of Social Justice at Yale. He remains programs manager for the Radical Middle Way, which offers powerful, faith-inspired guidance and tools to enable change, combat exclusion and violence and promote social justice for all. His work has spanned the UK, United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, Mali, Morocco, Singapore, Canada and Malaysia.
Abdul-Rehman is a frequent journalist for BBC Radio, offering contemporary perspectives on contemporary spirituality. Until 2018 regularly presented the popular Pause for Thought segment on Radio 2 and Something Understood on Radio 4. His most recent essay for Radio 3’s Holy Week 2019 was entitled “Behold the Man”. In conjunction with The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Abdul-Rehman will be launching and hosting a new podcast in 2020 entitled “This Being Human”, which will explore kaleidoscope of contemporary Muslim experience and identity.
In addition to providing curation and content guidance to a variety of cultural and literary institutions, Abdul-Rehman works to create platforms at the intersection of arts and social change. He is committed to building Muslim cultural capital, cultural leadership and supporting cutting-edge artistic production. In January 2015, he became director – a voluntary position – of the Insight Film Festival, a unique year-round festival that celebrates the intersection between faith and film. He was creative advisor to English Touring Theatre’s acclaimed, radical reimagining of Othello from 2016-2019 and curated The Othello Project, a multidisciplinary festival of artistic responses to the production.
Abdul-Rehman recently trained over 150 young civil society leaders in Indonesia to use the power of theatre and storytelling to bridge interfaith and intercultural divides against the backdrop of violence and discrimination as part of a Google.org funded initiative called Project Cerita. The “Duta Cerita” – young leaders – have now, in turn, reached over 1500 of their peers. The program has now been piloted in the UK and in the Netherlands and is being launched in Singapore in March.
Abdul-Rehman was artist-in-residence at the Doris Duke Foundation’s Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Design and Culture in June 2018. During his residency at Shangri La, Abdul-Rehman curated a series of programs and original performances around the theme, “What is Muslim Culture?”. He serves on the advisory board of the Said Foundation’s Amal Muslim Cultures & Arts program fund.
Hadith “Whoever is not concerned with the affairs of the Muslims is not from them” (Hakim)
Understanding the Muslim Mind
If we could take all of Islamic intellectual history, what sort of patterns and principles could we deduce? More importantly, if we found someone who actually knew all this information, what would they look like, think like, talk like, etc.?
A citizen of a Western republic or commonwealth nation is familiar with the concept of having their voice count. From a young age it is ingrained into us that without having our voices heard, our rights will be trampled upon and that we have a civic obligation to vote and actively participate in the political process. This type of rhetoric might be even more common if, like me, you are part of a minority community. However, this concept is not 100% accurate. In fact, it’s a common misconception that Westerners, both minorities and majorities alike, have regarding their government. Our individual voices really don’t count for much because there are existing political superstructures that control the political process. Maybe our voices can count within these superstructures if they are numerous enough. However, to get to that point you have to compromise so much that by the time you have a critical mass of voices within an existing superstructure, your individual opinion is lost in the new majority. If you don’t believe me, read this Princeton study that demonstrates that the Unites States is no longer, by definition, a democracy.MORE