Poet and activist, Mona Haydar, joins Raghu to talk about connecting with others, transforming challenges, and showing love, always.
Mona practices a life of sacred activism, poetry, contemplation and advocacy for living gently upon the Earth. She teaches classes and retreats on mindfulness and Islamic spirituality, leads workshops on creative writing and performs her poetry. Her words have found homes in the hearts of seekers, wanderers, poets, artists, lovers and stewards of the Earth.
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Being the Change You Want to See (Opening) – Raghu and Mona talk about what it was like growing up as a devout Muslim in Flint Michigan and how being different isn’t such a bad thing. Mona shares her diverse background and developing a deep connection to God. Not long after the San Bernadino and Pulse Nightclub shootings, Mona and her husband, Sebastian, were tired of sitting around while tension towards the Muslim community grew. They decided to hit the streets themselves and connect with their community. Mona and Sebastian started bringing coffee, doughnuts, and flowers to public spaces along with a sign inviting their neighbors to start a dialog about Islam and come together.
“I believe in a world of unity; of oneness. But I don’t believe in a world of uniformity, and I think that’s the difference.”
Faith and Love in the Face of Madness (13:20) – What about the incredible political change happening in America now? Despite the division and fear being created towards the Muslim community, Mona has true faith in our ability as a nation to unite towards those spreading harm.
Mona talks about her encounters with people that meet her love with hatred or fear. She and Raghu discuss the psychology and behavior of these people and finding empathy for them. Unsurprisingly, these are the people that will not stop and talk, which is all they really need to overcome their prejudice.
Collective Guilt (24:30) – Mona discusses the idea of collective guilt among Muslims, that all Muslims are guilty by association. This is at the core of so much hatred towards the Muslim community. She talks about finding avenues toward healing the hatred behind the violence and divisive policies directed towards all Muslims for the actions of a few.
Transforming Challenges (29:30) – Mona shares how she transforms the challenges she faces into blessings. With mindful practice, Mona spiritualizes her narrative. Transforming our challenges begins with the way we speak and think of them.
Pilgrimage to Standing Rock (36:30) – We hear about Mona’s experience going to the Standing Rock protests. As someone who tries to uphold the ideals of gentleness towards the earth, being at Standing Rock was like being on Hajj for Mona. She talks about the presence of the Divine Feminine at Standing Rock and the progressive movement as a whole.
“I think for every terrible word that is said about a Mexican, Muslim, or trans person we need to say two kind words. For every pipeline that goes in, we need to plant a thousand trees. I think if we just take it upon ourselves as individuals to be that resistance, we have the capacity to shift everything.”
Looking to the Ancestors (43:40) – Mona talks about living by the wisdom of the beings who came before us, whose teachings can lead us along our spiritual path. She believes in the study of all traditions and practices. The wealth of love found in that wisdom is what Mona is seeking.
Find Mona online and on Facebook. Be sure to check out her last visit to the Be Here Now Network on Chris Grosso’s Indie Spiritualist.