His institution, AlMaghrib, has issued a tepid apology.
Here is what a real apology from Abu Eesa should have read like:
“I am sorry.
I was wrong.
I hurt many people.
My words were deeply offensive, and caused real injury to people.
My actions and my words, were a violation of the very teachings of Prophet.
My so-called apology was anything but.
To all the people that I have wounded, I offer my profound apologies.
I will, effective immediately, remove myself from any and all public religious instructions, and enter a professional counseling program to help me get to the root of my assumptions of male supremacy.
I need to learn why I would harbor such bitter resentment towards women, towards blacks, and probably towards other groups I have not even come to terms yet.
I will not carry on any religious instruction until the above issues have been sufficiently dealt with.
I hereby resign immediately from all affiliation with AlMaghrib institute.
Let me end the way I began: I apologize to all the people whom I hurt.
May God heal the injury I caused you, and forgive me. “
And here is what a response from AlMaghrib should have looked like:
“We at AlMaghrib are committed to transmitting the depth of the Islamic tradition.
In order for us to do so, we need to actually embody the example of the Prophet through our instructions.
The words and actions of a former instructor, Abu Eesa, are demeaning, sexist, racist, and inconsistent with the prophetic ideals we espouse.
We profusely offer our apologies for the real injuries that he has caused women and men.
These injuries are real, and we take them seriously.
We have, effective immediately, terminated all association with Abu Eesa, who will never again work with AlMaghrib.
We make an immediate commitment to review and improve the participation of women in every aspect and level of our community and leadership.
And we will hire a professional company to conduct workshops for all of our teachers on issues of sexism, racism, and more.
We are also reaching out to everyone who has been injured through the words of Abu Eesa, and we are going to cover all the expenses of their counseling and therapy services to process the harm of these words.
We must do better, and with God’s grace, we will do better.
May God forgive us for our complicity, and we ask for your forgiveness as well.”
Let me end with a caveat: As a man, even an ally, it is ultimately not my place to tell Muslim women what apology they should demand, or they deserve. Far too many men–and even myself at times–have usurped women’s voice and occupied the space in which women can state the demands of their own conscience.
I hope I can write these words as an ally, to simply push the conversation forward, to offer one example of what a real apology might look like, and to move us beyond the focus on one individual to dealing with the systematic and institutional challenges that we face in our communities.