Martyrs, Minorities, Faith and Fidelity:
Exploring ‘Loyalty’ in Christianity and Islam

Professor Mona Siddiqui

Lesson #3 — Loyalty, Fidelity, and the Quest for Justice: Cornel West and Khaled M. Abou El Fadl

February 8, 2022

Summary: How can people learn to live together and flourish in community? Drawing insights from Cornel West and Khaled M. Abou El Fadl, Prof. Siddiqui explores the challenges of living faithfully in unjust circumstances. Amid the struggles of human life, she suggests that loyalty to the living ideals of beauty, joy, truth, justice, and fidelity is a truer guide than rigid interpretations of religious dogmas.

Recommended readings:

Siddiqui, Mona. “Contemporary Islam and the Struggle for Beauty.” Chapter. In Human Struggle: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, 139–56. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021.
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Reflection and Discussion Questions:

  1. Consider one or more of the injustices that are present in your community or country. Does your sense of loyalty to your community inspire you to take action and work for change, or are you comfortable with the status quo?
  2. Prof. Siddiqui says that faith can be used “to systematize injustice” but also to “change these very oppressive systems which can crush the human spirit.” How do figures like Cornel West, Khaled El Fadl, and others use religious faith to challenge injustice and inspire change?
  3. Khaled El Fadl asks a challenging question: “God is the authoritative source of law, but what is the balance between God’s authoritativeness and the potential for human authoritarianism?” Do you think it is possible for societies to enact laws that are rooted in religious faith or deep philosophical beliefs without becoming authoritarian? Why or why not?