Channel: Bilal Philips
© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.
Salam Alaikum and welcome to the Muslim CEO show. This is the place for you if you want to become an amazing leader and grow yourself or your business to the next level. We do this by learning from those that have been there done it and what the foap I'm your brother and host Mohammed Al shed and today I am honored to have with me the amazing Dr. Bilal Philips Sonic Chef
waalaikumsalam rahmatullah wa barakato. Chef, I'm super, super excited to have you on the show, because I believe that you're a true master of inspiration and leadership, and there's so much I believe, we can learn from you, and from your journey, inshallah.
inshallah, I hope everybody will be able to take some lessons and learn from my mistakes. And, you know, whatever I did, right, that was beneficial that they will be able to take that home. Sure. So I just want to give a very quick introduction. I really believe that you're one of those people. I'm sure that Muslims around the world like almost all the Muslims will see your face and they'll recognize you. But just to give a quick overview, so Dr. Bill Phillips, is a Jamaican Canadian Islamic scholar, he accepted Islam in the 70s. That's like the 1970s. Mashallah, right. He went on to study Islam. in Medina University, he did the BA in Islamic Studies. And then he also did a
master's in Islamic theology from Riyadh. He also did a PhD, which makes him a official doctor from the University of Wales. He's written over 50 books, he's been on loads of TV channels, he's been teaching for decades. And he's also the founder and Dean of the pioneering and I say pioneer, and because they were the first Islamic online university, so check this out for joining me today. I'm really, really excited, like said to have you on board, because I think you've had such a long journey. And what I'm hoping is to share a lot of the wisdom that you have, because there's a big difference between knowledge and wisdom. And I'm hoping that we're going to extract lots lots of
wisdom from you. But the first question I would ask you check, which we didn't tell you is like a private question. We just kind of pounced on you, right? Is what was 10 year old? Better, like?
Well, 10 year old below, was a non Muslim kid. Okay.
Who had just
migrated to Canada, from Jamaica with his parents
going to high school in Toronto,
school body children, you know, I was like the only black kid in the whole school, a school of maybe, you know, over 1000 kids. So you can imagine the, the mental challenges that were there to to adjust into Canadian society at that time, you know, but that was me there, obviously not thinking about Islam. That was the farthest thing from my mind. Hidden, it was just about survival. You know, how do you survive in this environment, adjusting to life in Canada? And what kind of brought you to Canada like you're originally from Jamaica, you were born there, you lived your early life there. What kind of brought you to Canada in those days. My parents they were studying in university in
Toronto, University of Toronto, both of them were studying, doing their higher degrees. And they brought me my brother and sister along with me, to Canada with them, they had made the intention of Hendra basically that was their hedra Yeah. Okay. And what what was what was life like for you shift? Because this is the early 70s. Like you said, it wasn't a very diverse community, like being a teenager in Canada. What was it like very different to today, I suppose.
Well, don't connect the two when you're talking about early 70s. That's when I converted to Islam. Okay, good. Yeah. You know, when I when I came to Canada at the age of 10, that was like
1957 wow, you know,
different 20 years.
difference between the two. So, like, in that time, because a lot of Muslims in Toronto now What was it like at that time? Very few and I converted in 1972. There were only two mosques in the whole city of Toronto. You know,
Muslims were small numbers, the the major mosque, which is called boasted Ave mosque.
We used to that that mosque was actually controlled by
Guyanese immigrants, you know, who were Muslim in culture? Yeah. And who had the mosque as a cultural club, where they had keys to the mosque. And, you know, if you are not a part of that culture, then you didn't get a key. So, you know.
So those were the days where you would come and knock on the door of the mosque and nobody opened.
He didn't come in the set times.
Fixed, you know, so that was a whole challenge in those days, but hamdulillah
I mean, I learned from the people around me who are themselves immigrants for either from Pakistan or India, Bangladesh, Egypt,
Morocco, these were this was the community was a mix of people from North Africa, as well as from indo Pakistan. subcontinent. Yeah. So sure, what kind of like sparked your interest in Islam? Because you said there weren't that many Muslims at that time? You know, like you said, this was like the late 60s, maybe early 70s, when you started getting interested, what kind of sparked it? How did you kind of get to that position?
Well, what happened is that I was in Toronto at that time, but 9072, you know,
disgruntled with the status quo, where Canada was providing napalm bombs for America to drop on the Vietnamese, right, you know, there was a student rebellion against this arrangement with the US.
I had gone into communism, you know, in that time, it was ripe.
For communist ideas to spread.
You know, there had been an earlier communist influx way back in the 30s. And all this, but this was a new time, where the communist ideas were absorbed by the Black Power movement in the US, you know, and it's,
it's, you know, its effects in Canada, you know, on a weaker level. So, I mean, I was caught up in that
communist thought, Communist Party, party, a communist movement, and looking to change the world, you know, wanting to change the world, to make it a better place for human beings. You know, this was what communism promised. And that's what I bought into. But after, you know, being in that movement, for some years, I came to understand, you know, from studying the history and all these other things, that it really wasn't the answer it communism couldn't compete with capitalism, you know, when it came down on an economic level, if it was so good, you know, Why couldn't it compete? Why couldn't it meet the challenges and surpass? I mean, China today has done that they've met the
challenges, but they're not communism anymore. That's after they left communism, and I've absorbed and adopted, you know, capitalist ideas that they were able to compete. So there was obviously something fundamentally wrong with communist ideology, that was something
you know, not right. something needed to be corrected, you know, and, and realities is that, of course, communism was purely
an economic kind of rationale. Whereas human beings are more than just economics. You know, it's not just about empty stomachs and full stomachs, struggling with each other. It is, there is something beyond that there will always be empty and full, no matter what system that you set up, you know, no matter how egalitarian and you know, equalizing system you put in place, they'll always be some who have and some who don't have, that's just how human society is. So it needed a system, which would address all of these, you know, disparaging relationships. Yeah. And it didn't have the answer. So I mean, I was open
Of course, I didn't find this lab myself there was, you know, an individual who
had come up with the draft Dodgers who were fleeing America. So that they didn't have to end up in, in Vietnam. Some of them were Muslim converts. And and they gravitated politically towards the kind of organizations I was involved in. They were trying to give some Dawa, they did affect a few people, some people accepted Islam. And that's what opened up my eyes have caused me to say, Well, okay, what is this? You know, religion is supposed to be the opium of the masses. So know what's going on here. Right? You guys are, you know, apostates, renegades?
So anyway, that's what really, it caught me at the right time, you know, seeing that transition that take place and attracted me to want to investigate further. And upon investigation and discussion and reading and hamdulillah. You know, it didn't take very much for me to be convinced, you know, at that point, because I was ready. I mean, I had read back years before, I, when I was in university in West Coast, Canada, I had read
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, it was, like, required reading, but you know, it was being it was read, like the way we read Marx and Engels and, you know, the, you know, your, it's more ritualistic rather than, you know, really getting into an understanding the things that were involved. So, I mean, Malcolm X, his story just went over my head, I didn't catch the Islam that was there, you know, at that time, and I even had gone down to the US one point, you know,
and visited some of the local mosques, which were called temples, this was really, Elijah, Elijah Muhammad
I was impressed by their discipline, you know, how they carried themselves in a disciplined way. And, you know, their personal discipline, but
the theology was just so out to lunch.
I, there was no way I could swallow it, of course. And of course, it wasn't Islam. Make, which makes sense, you know, it's just wasn't Islam. So that time in 72, was the right time for me. And Allah brought it, you know, to me, and Alhamdulillah, I was able to accept it. Amazing, amazing. Like, if you just think about the time that you were living in, it was an amazing time, I think she's going to ask you, like, how do you make the decision to go from someone who's just kind of accepted Islam? And then you, you know, a lot of people stop there, they accept Islam, and they just kind of take a break, and they just live their life. But you decided to, like, go down this education path, right?
Like, why why did you decide that to go across the world and to a country like you've never been like, what was the thinking in the motivations for you to, to seek that knowledge and actually do more than just be a Muslim in everyday life?
Necessity is the mother of invention. Okay.
After I had accepted Islam in Toronto, trying to learn what Islam I could, they're
realizing that the immigrant Muslims, they're not scholars, they're just average everyday Muslims with whatever level of not understanding they hide from their cultural Islamic experience, you know, that left us left me, you know, and others and I should mention here that the brother who, who had the, the greatest effect for me to come into Islam from was Dr. Abdullah Hakim, quick,
he was the one way come up from the US, you know, along with others and, you know, was giving Dawa so you could say no, I accepted Islam from him at his head, inshallah.
But, as I was saying,
he and I, we were, he had a, you know, a state studious background himself, and he had
We were looking tried to find some knowledge and we just couldn't find anything. You know, we were getting a lot of garbled
understandings from the various cultures of the people around us.
I went off with Jamaat live to to the UK, you know, I was told at the time that there were over 50 mosques in the UK. And that was like amazing why you came.
And in every mosque, there was a Maulana, who is ready to teach you. So I said, Okay, this is where I need to be in I need to understand this thing from, you know, the source from a scholarship level, not from the common masters who would be telling me contradictory things. So I went to the UK, I spent the four months you know, the, the full monty as they say,
I did it before month, and I went to all the masjids you know, what was not all 50. But the major ones in Birmingham and London and Sheffield and major cities, I went and I sat with the local
Imam who was a mowlana. And I had my notebooks with me and I just took notes, I asked them questions, they answered the questions, and I made my notes. And I built my basic
you could say, first level of scholarly understanding from that four months experience.
After coming back, I shared that with others now what I have learned, but
I found that
after returning to Canada, and being more attached to the to the masjid, I've moved to another matter instead of Boston Avenue, I went to another one called the eastern mosque
and the amount there was Egyptian
and he was now teaching from fitclub Suna, which is a kind of a non though people say chofetz and maybe leans towards Shafi. madhhab, but it was brought the evidences and gave different views. So, after coming out of the Jamaat experience as a hanafy, because I was also told I needed to choose my time. Right, you know, because as a Muslim, you must follow one of the four. That's how it was thought. So, you know, it was presented that I will hanifa was the first of the great demands. And the Hanafi, Musk must Sorry, my Hanafi madhhab was the
most widely followed me, you know, the greater numbers of Muslims are hanafy than the others. The other thing I said is okay, you can follow any one of them, you know, but you just you need to follow one. But
said it best, but they said
the most followed social proof
implies something And anyway, I became hanafy, you know, at that time. So now I'm studying with this mom from Egypt, who was basically Shafi
teaching football. So now, and I'm comparing what I'm learning from him now, which is from a book, I'm taking notes, but these notes are now systematic. Although I compared them with what I had gotten in the four months there in,
in England, then I started to see certain issues come up, where the idea that all the form of hubs were the same, they're equal. They're all correct. You just needed to follow one, I found places where that just didn't work. Because, you know, on a most basic level, where the Hanafi school what I learned from England, said that if you accidentally touch a woman, your Voodoo is not broken, but the shaft is school said that if you did touch a woman and you will do is broken. Now, how can both of these be correct?
At the same time? Yeah, not possible. You know, so this was contradictory differences. variational differences I could understand. Yeah, no problem. Did this at one time, the data at another time? That's okay. But contradictory differences. That didn't work. So I realized it was necessary for me to to go elsewhere.
At that point, Abdullah Hakim, he is doing his own searching through the books which are available in North America.
At that time, two scholarships became available from Medina. And nobody was interested in them in the community, nobody. Now today, if you said there's two scholarships available, people would be fighting each other cutting limbs. And in order to get those two scholarships, then nobody was interested. So we said, we'll take it. No, people were telling Oh, no, no, no, don't go, don't don't waste your time, you're gonna go study these old books, which are covered in dust and yellow papers, and you know, this, you know, this stuff is just totally irrelevant, you know, you will not be able to live a life after that, you know, you're gonna be unable to sustain your own families and this
kind of thing, huge discouragement. But we were both committed, we understood that we had to go, there was no if ands and buts about this, we had to go to get the knowledge from the sources to know what Islam really was. Because if we were left to just go with whatever, you know, our cultural Muslim compatriots, you know, was going to tell us, we'll be here, they're up, down, left, right, you know, all over the place, it will just be chaos for us. So we understood there was no other option we needed to go. So that necessity,
invented, Abdullah Hakim, quick and myself raising. And when you say scholarship, does that mean that the Medina University, they paid for your travel? And they they like set you up over there? And then what did it mean to have the scholarship at that time?
Well, at this time, what you just said it meant, but at that time, it meant a ticket over there. And
if you lived on the university campus, then it meant food, and a stipend. And you're taken care of. But we brought families Oh, wow. Okay. And we couldn't, you know, live on campus, we lived on campus until our families came, that was for about four or five months, families came
in was approved for us to bring our families. And, you know, we brought them, so we had to go into the city. And they didn't give us extra money. As married with family, we had to go with the same thing that those on campus did. So it meant we had to struggle now to survive in that
circumstance. But it was a scholarship nonetheless, it didn't cost us anything to study at the University. But to live there. As a family in the city, it was tough. You know, we went through quite rough times, you know, even on campus in those days, though, they are just build some new buildings, for housing for the students, etc. When we when we went there, we went into the old buildings, and our which were quite primitive. I mean, we, when I describe this to people, they're just shocked. But I won't go into all those details here. But it was just enough to say it was very primitive. In those days, so sure, you know, when you go through something like that, where you're
trying to do the right thing, you're trying to do something good for yourself and for the benefit of others. And then you end up in a situation where you're struggling and it's tough and your family and like how do you get through a situation like that, especially when you're much younger as well?
Well, you know, we sat together, we used to get together and discuss our issues and our problems. And, you know, we agreed that this is how we would do it. We were at that time, basically four of us from the west.
There are a couple of German brothers.
But their situation was more taken care of in that, you know, their white, German European who came so people were more ready to accept
the responsibility of ensuring that their their presence there was comfortable. Yeah. So they provided special housing and stuff for them, with their families, whereas us coming from
North America, you know, we're Afro Americans, Afro Canadian, we look like the other Africans that are coming here. And they survive, you know, however they do it. So we were just sort of expected to survive. Similarly, of course, for us, it was a struggle. But under lab, you know, we did get some help came out. Through the group, we came together and it was said, four of us, myself, Abdel Hakim quick, brother Musab from Trinidad, and another brother from Philadelphia, you know, Brother
natvia, Mohammed, who was a mom of a community there, he had some contacts in Saudi Arabia, because he was there in Philadelphia, where a lot of
Arabs and that came through some from Saudi Arabia or connecting Saudi Arabia came through, so he had some contacts, he was able to contact them, and we got some help with our housing situation. So by banding together, encouraging each other when we were low, whatever, you know, we said we'd sit and discuss these things, you know, when we felt like dropping out quitting, and all these things, get together, you know, share the ideas, knocking around amongst ourselves, and, you know, basically, we this camaraderie, we're able to, to keep each other motivated, you know, remember, what did we come for, stay focused on the goal, you know, this other stuff is trials, which, you
know, the scholars, everybody of the past, you know, they had to sacrifice to get this knowledge. So, this is the sacrifice that we have to pay, we just have to, you know, roll with the punches, as they say, or ride the waves, you know, that there are good times, bad times. So, we just have to work out strategies to, you know, to be able to survive that period of study, and Hamdulillah, they worked, you know, all, all four of us basically completed our studies.
Mashallah, and I've gone back to the west, everybody else, myself, I stayed over the east, and, you know, contributed to the various communities that they were connected with. So sure, tell me about, like, the inspirational people that you came into contact with, and you studied with and the teachers and the leaders, and Who were some of the great people that really changed who you were and, and what was it about them that, that really impressed you? And that you learn from?
Well, I would say, you know,
the top two amongst the list, really were, share kalasa, Deena little Barney.
being the most important element for reforming the oma that we didn't need to get back to the Hadeeth. Because the problem was people had gotten away from Hadeeth into, you know, culture into
fit, you know, which had lost its connection and became something else, which was not intended, you know, which led to the split up of the mother abs, and, you know, the differences which occurred, and
the only way to remove all of that was basically to get back to the sources and under source was the crowd.
So, the Koran everybody agreed on and, you know, basically, people would always refer to God, but Howdy, this was the area, which was somewhat cloudy, you know, the scholarship, had the scholarship, I'd gone to a very low point, you know, by the end of the 18th century, 19th century, you know, 20th century that period, the gone to a very low point, only a few scholars in India, you know, had kept some of this alive, you know, they continue to teach it the right, you know, and some in Syria, you know, some in Egypt, it's all there were Muslims in this
it wasn't all together, it was in print. So, I think I shared notes here, you know, basically brought that had
The first kind of approach you know after core I'm because even for the Quran, if you don't have the Hadith to guide you with the Quran and the Quran alone, you can go here there anywhere and everywhere, right Hadees was the means of, of putting the Quranic message in its proper context because that's the province Our solemn living the Quran, you know, he was the living version. So his, the Hadith being his life style, his Sunnah his way, then that needed to be held on to as firmly as possible, along with the crown, of course.
So he brought that element and push that element.
There were others, you know, around that time at the same time, but he became the, I think, the most notable, especially because of his writings. You know, there may have been others who are more knowledgeable, you know, like chef Ashanti, for example. You know, who, who chef Nasir admitted, you know, knew more,
memorize more we could draw his memory was, you know, he was like, IBM, you know, computer,
catch all that knowledge and, you know, spit it back out in a second. But he didn't write, does he look to see where the writings of you know, shed one but I mean, a shed pity whereas writing cognifide anything, you know, is like, if my humble didn't write, you know, his son wrote and others wrote, but he didn't write you know, but it didn't make him a lesser scholar than a mama Shafi or you know, my Malik, etc. So, the point is that he he became a focus for me in my studies, actually, we all gravitated towards him, I mean, I I spent a lot of time you know, going to his lectures etc. And his leading students in Medina is not say his name is stood everywhere or shared multiple and,
and he had advised me chef Nasser the body and advise me to study tadej of Hadith with Chef maka, because this was the this was the skill
which would give the scholar or the
students of knowledge, the means to distinguish between the authentic and the inauthentic because, Cohen we didn't have any issue about inauthentic but, so now, there is this issue of weak hubby's you know, fabricated IDs etc, etc. So, that was the tool that was necessary to have been mastered and understood to be able to make that distinction. So I studied, you know, with Chaco mill in his home, and otaku, Legion, Hadith and so on. So, you know, so he was also I used to attend his club because she's nice and by that time, you know, came on occasions he came on the Hajj, you know, he came during Ramadan, you know, so, he was not there all the time, he had been a teacher in Medina,
but by the time we got there, he had just left gone back to Jordan, actually, instead of Syria, Jordan. So, um,
you could say that she had moved Well, he was there all the time, he was the mom would lead the football and give the hook Bob Juma and so on. So, in the, in the was referred to as the Hara sharqiya this was the area outside of Medina, where many of his students chefmaster students gathered and studied and check, well was sort of the leading student there. So I used to go to his club buzz regularly and listen to him. So he was an example of Baba, you know, he was very powerful, deep shares an awesome, you know, he was the scholar who will give you the explanation as also by check mark Bell was a fiery hoppy.
He was, I could say he was he became an example to me, you know, of, of how to put ideas together, you know, and deliver it in a way which would, you know, reach the people. I said, when I was, you know, was, of course, amazing. Here was a man blind.
You know, we're rich
This status of he was the head of the university when I had gotten there. He was the head moodier.
President of the University. And, you know, he would regularly give
us lectures in the masjid of Medina.
You know, he didn't keep himself away from the students, you know, people would always be pouring into his office, you know, he wasn't one to have a lot of
should you keep pouring into his office? Yeah, you know, it did, everybody would come into his office, you know, as students right? before him, maybe the previous
Buddha. Maybe he was the one right from the beginning, sorry.
But in his time, he was accessible. This is what I could see, as a classical
characteristic of himself, you know, character, somebody accessible, you know, as the problem was accessible, Peter was to calm you know, all women hold his hand or whatever, you know, when he's walking people, you know, he was not there was he didn't have guards around him. No, no, no, no, you get off here, you get off here, you know, this is the profit here now make way for the profit. No, no, he was accessible. You know, Chef, bin byes was, was the living example of that,
of accessibility. And even when he went to Riyadh, I moved to Riyadh after he moved, moved earlier, and had become the, the main Mufti of Saudi Arabia.
Still, you know, that accessibility remained, you know, in his home, he would regularly have, you know, meals for anybody who come in, you know, fill the tables come, you know, it could always go to Shepherd's house bed to share, you know, he provided
support for students, when they went home, you know, to continue the dialogue, you know, so he was really, you know, a very accessible person very down to earth. Very simple, you know, but at the same time, you know, a great
scholar of his in his own right. And, of course, he had opinions and things were different from that Master, but they respected each other, and, you know, and, and they both worked in their own spheres that they
operated in. So, I mean, these were the big figures. I mean, they were O'Meara flat, for example, you know, he'll oak is originally from Nigeria, Florida, from the Fulanis is known as Omar flatlay. He was, you know, giving
lectures in the Medina mosque videos already, he is a lecturer in the university itself, you know, one of the leading scholars of that
time, there was Abubakar desire, he also, you know, who I became quite close with a site that listened under his lectures, etc. I mean, these were the could say probably the biggest figures, that, you know, I,
I learned from, you know,
I can say that.
Chef, Abdullah Lawson, a lab bad. You know, he was the supervisor for my BA thesis. So, I learned also he later became the president of the Islamic University of Medina.
But I learned from him, and I, and I learned
how to be patient. Because I remember in the first
class that I took an appeal in the university, he was the person who taught I paid them. And
I asked questions, which were questions
based on what Westerners I know how Westerners thought, you know, the type of questions that they would ask because I'm trying to learn from him.
How to handle
Stirring thought, I'm going back to the west. So it's not enough for me to understand how you would answer a Muslim, this question in or somebody from the east, but how you would answer the question of a Westerner. So my Arabic was limited. So I wasn't able to convey to him that I'm asking this question not for myself, but for people from
the west, non Muslims who will ask this question, when I say this, you know, they're gonna ask that, you know, so
you know, the idea that when we say, you know, who created everything, it is a law, this is, you know, the last characteristic of an ally is the creator of everything. And then the question that comes after that, and even children will ask this question. So who created a lot? You know, so, you know, so when I raised this question in the arcada, class, he, he actually said,
You have become a disbeliever.
That question was a question of Cooper, you know, you know, of course, it was like, Oh, man.
But, you know, I had to be patient with it, and to try to go back to him after classes to get him and explained to him, you know, where I was coming from. But
I had to learn to take that, had I not been able to take that? That would have been the end of my studies, right there. Yeah, you know, oh, somebody calls you a Kaffir? Because you could see it, you know, that's it, man, you know, what's the point, you know, but I had to try to figure out and understand, you know, where he was coming from. And, obviously, I had not effectively conveyed to him, you know, where I was actually coming from. Later on, I became his most popular student for that batch. And he used to welcome my questions, because he understood now, where I was coming from, and even though the students and so many questions, you know, you're delaying the class on the
course, and, you know, but he encouraged me to ask. So, you know, that was a learning point, you know, where I had to adjust and,
and be patient, stay focused that same point that we always get, why are we here, we're here to get this knowledge. So it means we have to make the necessary sacrifices to get it, we don't let difficulties which are bound to arise, you know, end up
ending our studies, because many people had come before us. You know, you know, I, from the people from Americas from the Americans from the west, that West, we, Abdullah and myself, were the first to to enter into the College of Medina, many others had come, but they didn't get farther than the the Language Institute. They couldn't deal with the circumstances. You know, some of them were walking off the plane. And after they came to the,
to the terminal days, they wanted to get back on the plane. Get out. That was it. So there were many before us, and students were there from different parts of Africa, and Asia, etc. Were our friends know, they would tell us about oh, there was this guy, he came and you know, he lasted for 10 days or that one, he came to class for two months, or this one, he only lasted one day, he was back out.
So, you know, we were like, the first pioneers of the line myself.
My name in addition, my admin,
and Musab we were the first
the from Europe, the couple of Germans that come about three to state one dropped out, went back Tuesday, then went to their studies also from Europe, they actually preceded us. So we could say in terms of
graduating from Medina, they were the first two were from the west in its totality. We were the first to the Learn myself, from Americans from the Americas, north, south, Central. And you think in the history of Medina like yeah, we were the first Yeah.
weight shift. This is like inspiring stuff. And, you know, we can only like hear the stories and imagine like the sacrifice, because even now when we go Medina, it's like it's hot and it's wonderful. And we've got five star hotels and we've got food and we've got everything. And it's, you know, even now, I hear students from Medina University are saying it's hard, right? If so, do you imagine what it would have been like 4050 years ago? It's insane to think about it, you know, a very, very inspiring or shallow shift. Tell me how because obviously, from then you carried on studying, you carried on learning, tell me a little bit about how you kind of move from, you know,
that traditional way of learning to becoming like the first place to learn Islam as a university online, because it's not an online university. Again, another pioneering thing, you were the first guys to do that efficiently? Like, how did you think even because you went through a traditional Islamic education with Medina University, like the internet, how did you think about all of that?
Well, you know,
I would say that the internet again, became an issue of
necessity, being the mother of invention, you know,
after graduating from Medina, doing a master's in Riyadh, which is much more modern Riyadh University, you know, not kings out.
It was kings out sorry, but not Imam, even Saudi university with two major universities, they're in my mid side was purely Islamic, whereas King solid had Islamic section, but had, you know, other areas, engineering, medicine, and all these other things. So that was a more modern University. I became a teacher at that time, you know, in Islamic school there in Riyadh, called menar, to Riyadh schools.
When I finished my PhD in,
in Riyadh, before I left,
and went to UAE, then I became a university professor, or university lecturer I lectured in university taught in university in the American University of Dubai for 10 years, in that time,
setting up a department of Islamic Studies, and, you know, creating curriculum and also the kinds of things, the challenges that were involved there.
That was all on the ground. But what happened was that
the internet was now coming into play late 90s, early 2000.
People were writing me and asking me
about where they could study online.
And the main University, which has meant you mentioned that we're the first we're not the first, okay.
But we're among the first we're gonna say the first, which is truly on Quran and Sunnah.
Right? Because there was a website called Sunni path.
And people would write me emails and asked me, What about Sunni paths? Can we study there? So when I went to Sunni path, and I looked at their program, I realized that it was really Sufi path, as opposed to Sunni path. It was focused on the Sufi approach to
Islam as a whole, there were fick courses, there were high beef courses, and also so I, I would advise them that I didn't want to say to them, don't go there.
Because there was nothing else, you know, and to just say to people, no, don't go me don't get the law. No, I instead, I encouraged them, I said, Okay, go you can deal with your fit there. You know, go ahead, you can do your holidays there, you know, but the aqeedah My advice is, stay away from that data, learn your aqeedah in your local areas, from your local scholars, you know, because there are issues there. But,
you know, basically the damage in fifth is minor.
The damage and heavy minor, you know, the major area, you know, where the damage would be would be nd area by paida.
I realized I couldn't keep saying this. Oh, you know, if we have to find an alternative, this is what it came down to. So in the year 2000
You know, I first
tried to set up an alternative.
I engaged my son who was studying it at the time to set up, you know, the necessary
programming and programs and systems etc.
But he was in the early stages of his study, so what he set up,
we quickly outgrew, and we didn't have an alternative, and the system was starting to crash. So we had to shut it down the drain for about a year, about the year 2000 2001 valid for buddy, but I knew it needed to be done. The systems that we needed, you know, learning management systems, you know, the,
the video conferencing, the these at those days were extremely expensive.
Oh, you're talking about 60 $80,000? Wow, you know, yeah, it was massive numbers, you know, we just, you know, as much as I wanted to do it that just burned my head,
just didn't have that kind of money, I didn't know anybody would be willing to invest in that kind of money. So, you know, I had to just leave it until
basically about six years later, my son, by then I moved to, to Qatar, my son contacted me and said, the learning management system is now available.
Let's do it.
You know, and then within that same year, you know, the, the video conferencing with CQ
now available, free, ah Masha, Allah Hamdulillah,
then we started the process of setting things up. So the need and intention was there, we didn't have the finances, financial means to. So I in between that same period, I set up a department for Islamic Studies in
in German Preston University management, and have the law that developed now an English medium curriculum. So that was the end that I was writing during that point, the late 90s, early 2000, I was now writing books, which would be useful for English,
Islamic studies programs, because I recognize, you know, Arabic, pure Arabic, where people come and study everything in Arabic, they go back home, and they teach in their local languages. So all that effort made in Arabic, becomes lost, you know, when you talk to those people, 10 years later, 15 years later, they're struggling to be able to speak the Arabic and, you know, I questioned the amount of time that was being put in, I think the Arabic is critical. But
somehow, I felt that it was better, to put it simultaneously, that you're learning in your local language. And you learn Arabic at the same time.
So the learning of Arabic doesn't delay your studies, because many people were spending two to three years studying Arabic, then they have to do for years to do a bachelor's, then another, you know, for for masters in Medina was like four, and then a PhD, which we like five, who, you know, you're going close to 15 years.
a PhD, you know, so it's just not practical. So, you know, I've been taught now in university, I could see, you know, that Western style University, the need to, you know, customize and, and to, to summarize and to present this material in a more concise way. So that was the learning period for me to prepare for
setting up the university online, practically. So on the ground, I did as much as I could on the ground setting up departments. I also
started and Islamic Studies program in Qatar. By then I moved to Qatar.
I also went to India, and set up in Chennai, the first accredited Islamic University of India. Oh, yeah, that's the first they know you mentioned the internet. University is the first not that wasn't the first, but this one was the first. The first
accredited Islamic University in India is not the first Islamic University. There are many, in fact, Islamic universities in India, you know, there are 1000s I mean, and Islamic University, you know, just really means high school.
In many of these, right? There's not really University, they just use the term, no, Jamia Islamia. They use that term very loosely. But anyway, the point is that
after launching that university in India, and then, you know, wanting to develop because the idea of that university in India was to develop for India, an International Islamic University, like you have in Islamabad, you have it in Kuala Lumpur, you have it in Kampala, Uganda, you have it in Dhaka, Bangladesh,
but you don't have it in India, you know, with the largest individual Muslim population of any of these countries doesn't exist. You know, Aligarh was just a joke, you know, you know, it does not, although people think of Aligarh Muslim University,
it's not Muslim University, really, even the founder, he had all kinds of issues in his aqeedah. You know, there are all kinds of issues there wasn't, and isn't. So if they needed this, but
what I found, you know, after trying to establish that International Islamic University there in Chennai,
the authorities understood what I was trying to do, right. So they made sure it didn't happen.
by one, international professors, I was trying to bring them from no visas available.
students were going to embassies, local and Indian embassies in the countries, and the people in the embassies, were telling them, that is no University. It's fake.
So we had these kind of started, there was a deliberate attempt to, to, you know, confine the university just to India. So even understanding that okay, that this is the way it's got to be. I found teachers from different parts of India, I didn't want it to just be a Chennai Islamic University.
I want it to be at least a National Indian, Islamic University, I also went to all the major cities across the country, Mangalore, Bangalore, you know, Mumbai, Hyderabad, you know, etc, etc, I went to, and I invited students to come. So the student body was a mixture from all over India, so at least, you know, they would get to know each other, you know, and understand the unity of the oma the importance, etc. So, I did that we also launched an Islamic school from kindergarten to grade 12, you know, prepared the staff and the teachers and the
faculty and the administration, etc, you know, from an Islamic perspective, now, what is required.
And, you know, after I reach that point, everything was rolling, no, then time for renewal of my visa, and it didn't get renewed.
That was the final straw, final stroke, tried to cut it, make it, you know, fail. So I had to go back to Qatar, and hunter light was turned over to others, and it's still going, they're still producing hundreds of graduates yet, they're ongoing, but it didn't reach notoriety. It didn't reach, you know, the rest of the Muslim world at bat just just limited. And still students are coming from different parts of India and studying there. But the goal wasn't achieved. I couldn't achieve that goal there. So that's the point at which I decided to go online. Okay. Then, I already decided to go online from back in 2000. But didn't have the means or whatever. When we finally got
the means. We started because 2007 we started the Islamic online university as a free diploma. People can come and study anything courses that we made available to them for free, no charges at all. So we were there learning in from 2007 to 2010. We are learning how
To run a university online, right, so 2010, that's when my read visa was not renewed
in from from India, that's when I decided to go fully
online with the bachelor's program in Islamic Studies, I should say that before that, I tried to, I started it on the ground in Qatar in 2007. Basically, when I went online with the free program on the ground, we did start a Bachelor's
on the ground in Qatar, at the using the facilities of the Qatar gas center. We started it based on
the curriculum from the College of Dawa in undermine universities that I've gone there. I was made a a professor in their
teaching staff, they're connected to the, to their department of dour and devised $1 program in English, which they needed, because the dour school was producing graduates
who didn't know English, because everything was studied in Arabic. But the goal, the goal of the department, was that the graduates would go to the south, and would spread Islam to the people of the South, whether in the north when they came from the south, or the go to the south and stay down there and teach down there, but they didn't know English. So it was just really an exercise in futility. You know, preaching to the converted, as they say, so I I brought this argument to them. So they said, okay, produce something for us in English. So I put the curriculum together, this is again, necessity, being the mother of invention, you know,
and produce the curriculum there and implemented it there in, in Qatar, you know, underground. So, what I did is from the time I started, and we started with one class was I couldn't get it a college, I tried to start a college down there in Qatar, but I wasn't able, the systems didn't allow it set up the shed it tries working with, they liked the idea and everything. And, and it was based on the idea that they were, we estimated about 20,000 people accepting Islam every year in the Gulf,
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, you know, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Qatar, about 20,000. But we're not benefiting from them. They accept Islam, they given birth, some basics, and you know, some of them go back to Christianity when they go back home to their countries, etc, you know, we weren't getting out of it, you know, something that we could build with the future. So I suggested we start, you know, rather than a regular data center, we needed a college $1 College, for these graduates taking out of them, those who will be interested in study training them, then they go back home, well, then they go to, you know, data centers around the Gulf, where they are fully, you know, equipped to do the dialogue,
effectively. So, that was the intent. But from the beginning of the course, I brought a camera into the classroom. And for all the professors, their lectures were being recorded with the intention of
putting it online. Now, once we completed the course,
and because I couldn't continue there, I prematurely started in 2010, the degree course Bachelors of Arts in Islamic Studies. So that's, you know, how I ended up in that circumstance of the online university actually teaching Sharia or Islamic Studies. completely online. Amazing, amazing. Check. You know, I could speak to you all day, boy fast running out of time. I want to address two really important points, right. And this would be like the last kind of question I've got for you. But it's a two part question. Okay. Because something you keep saying is the route a job chemo. What that means is Necessity is the mother of all invention. My mom used to say that to me, as well as
All right. So the two part question I've got for you is one is, yes, you're right. Necessity is the mother of invention. necessity is always there. But you see, what I feel is like, you've got this element where you make that necessity your necessity, because everyone else in the world sees the necessity. But you're like, this isn't a necessity, and I've got to do something about it. So I want you to understand, like, what's the mindset that makes you do that, rather than just leaving it to everyone else, like everyone else does? And for me, like, this is the kind of thing I see when I think about leadership. And so that's one part the question really understanding your psychology and
your thinking of why do you have to make this your thing as opposed to just letting someone else get on with it. And the second one I want to ask you about is just generally around leadership and how, you know, we have kind of feels like a contradictory ratio in Islam with leadership where, on one hand, we're like, don't go for leadership, don't put yourself forward for leadership. And on the other hand process, I'm saying every one of us a leader. So these two things, I really want to come to you to address in your in the last kind of question and answer answer, that'd be really great.
And I should say that
a good bit, maybe about 50% of what you're just saying, in the last
few minutes, I wasn't able to hear, okay, the connection somehow got stuck. So I missed out, but I got the gist of what you're getting at, in one, why the
necessity became a necessity for me personally.
And the other one was, was it again now about
whether prediction, you know, whether we should seek leadership, or as we have been told we ship, you know, so where does whatever leadership things I was involved in fit in with that? Yeah. And in fact, trying to educate us. So I'll take the first one. Yeah, exactly. educate us on the sense that, you know, when it comes to leadership, we shouldn't seek leadership, but then the process of telling us, you know, every one of you is a shepherd. So the kind of the oxymoron between the two, I guess.
Okay, the first one, first part, and that is why it became a necessity for me, because Allah made it a necessity for me,
because of the goal that I was seeking to achieve.
And necessity came up for me to achieve that goal. So I had no choice. If I didn't take on this, the demands of this necessity, then the goal, which I thought I wouldn't be able to achieve.
So it was relatively simple, it wasn't a matter that there was a necessity out there, which is not necessarily connected to me. And then, you know, I took it upon myself, I said, let me go deal with that necessitate. Let me go deal with this other one, the society No, no, all that every time. Allah created that necessity, and put me in that situation. You know, I, and I wasn't a writer. I was an artist. I was into art, I was planning to go to art school. And you know, I was very much into, you know, colors and drawings. And, you know, this kind of thing. That's where I was my head was not writing.
after graduating from Medina,
I was asked to take over the teaching of Islamic Studies in that school, there were no books. At that time, 1980 there were no books on Islam that could teach you for me. Now. Now, we have Maulvi Abdul Aziz. And, you know, we have the series from from Riyadh, and they have a number of different books that are out there, then there was nothing, absolute zero. So I had to write, that was the necessity, I almost got to teach with preparing things for the students I had to so you know, Allah put me in that situation. But hamdulillah he also put the means to fulfill it there too. Because my father was an English expert, you know, master's in English and, you know, to be taught English for
3040 years, whatever. So he was a guide for me. You know, even when I tell people my book, the evolution of film,
the last chapter was written by my father. Wow, okay. I didn't know.
Okay, amazing. As a non Muslim, he me he accepted Islam later, but at the time when he did it, he was a non Muslim.
You know, he was helping me edit the book and, you know, prepare it for publication.
He wrote that last chapter for I mentioned it in the introduction. Most people don't read that. Yeah. So why don't know.
I mentioned it right. But that is that, you know, because I was still in the process of learning how to write. Okay, I wasn't a writer, as I said, I didn't have that inclination. You know, I took notes, copious notes, I can say, you know, so as a note taker, yeah. You know, when I first became a host of every book that I read, I used to write the summary of all of the ideas of those books. So if I want to go back over, I didn't have to go read the whole book. Again, I could just go back to the main key and critical concepts which are in the book. So I was in the habit of doing that note taking, but writing per se, no. So that circumstance forced me, you know, and there were no books
available on our feeder.
Yeah, the only thing was, you know, Cotabato heat, which was a training book, used by Muhammad Abdul Wahab, for training his teachers, you know, given them the course material that they would deliver. It wasn't meant to be a book to be studied by itself. Yeah, that's why you have all the commentaries on it, that's what we study, but there was nothing, no comment is available in English, you know, so that book by itself is just like, who reads it, you know, who read it, you know, maybe you read a few pages, there was nothing. So this is what,
which, why I felt the necessity of writing, for example, the fundamentals of towie.
Because there was nothing with that
commentary type approach. So.
So in the same way, each of the necessities came up for me, which required me to act on whether it was in dour, I knew there was an aspect of the dour where there was a weakness, the shortage, no books, also, I felt it was my duty to provide that information for English speakers, etc. So that was the necessity in front of me, if the Dow is to move forward, effectively, we need to drive that if the college was to be set up, we needed to have textbooks, you know, I wrote on paper sooner, or later, set cetera, et cetera. Because these would be the core books, which students would initially study when they went into the systems raising. So
as I said, that was the these were necessities which Allah put in front of me, which I had to tackle, if I wanted to achieve the goals that I'd set, you know, for myself for
effectively conveying that
response responsibility, which the prophets I seldom put on each and every one of us, when he said, by level honey will convey whatever we have learned in only a simple verse. Now, the other issue of of leadership.
I think that what is intended,
from the Hadith, which these are the Hadith, which discourage us from seeking leadership,
is the scramble,
the scramble for leadership? Well, you want I want, he wants, they want, you know, and we're going to be fighting over to get to that thing, everybody's pushing himself and, you know, that's that way. It's not a good way. Because in that way, you know, you're gonna have to buy out people, you have to make compromises and things, you know, which you will be doing,
which are not good, fundamentally not good. Even though you might say, My intention is, is to get there and do the right thing. But, but if you have to buy out people and do all these other things, you know, it destroys the way you got there will determine who you are when you get there.
You know, so
one finds an opportunity where people have supported and felt that you are most capable for you to say no, no, I don't want because I don't want to be seeking leadership. No, no. If the if the circumstance
dictates shows that in fact, you are the person most capable to handle this, then you should embrace it. Okay. You should embrace it. Unless you feel
You know it within yourself a kind of weakness where you feel that if I get there, you know, it's going to corrupt me, I prefer not to be in that
situation, then that is a personal choice and, you know, you have the right to make that choice.
But otherwise, if you have some level of self confidence, that sense that you could do a good job, and, you know, and the people have sought you, I've
tried to push you forward, then there's no harm in taking the leadership, you know, in that matter, for myself, the leadership, again, was a product of necessity. Yeah, you know, if I didn't do it, it wasn't gonna get done. At that time, maybe even be done sometime down the line. But at that time, I needed to do
what was necessary to establish the university.
And that's how we have, you know, progressed, looking back in retrospect,
we didn't, myself and the team that were with me, we didn't have a plan, a clear plan of university operation with all of its departments, etc, etc, which we followed, and just put the blocks in place as things, you know, and circumstances arose, etc, we did not, we didn't do that, that's not how it was done, it was more metamorphosing into the various departments as the needs arose. And, you know, this is the
that approach, it means that in the end, you will be a bit confused. Your, your operation will need fixing, yeah, will need tightening up, you know, that's how we grew.
Would I do it another way,
could I have done it the other way, that's another issue. But we recognize the weaknesses, which exists now in the university, that we're trying to patch now in order patching up fixing up here and there, you know, what, what caused that, it was because of how we grew. And of course, we were now trying to follow the other model, bring systems from, you know, existing universities that are effective, etc, and put them in our midst, and adapting ourselves to fit that model, which has already been
established by, you know, many other universities around the world. So that's basically where we are now, you know, putting systems in place, you know, filling up all the gaps that exist as a result of our path that we've taken, and, you know, still
striving for the correct accreditation for the university, we are facing, you know, all kinds of challenges, because, you know, online education in the third world, which is where we operate, most of them, you know, is is looked down upon, you know, after x act
company in Pakistan, you know, was
shown to have been a degree male selling millions of dollars of degrees, you know, and
then that was online, you know, that was it. Yeah, they didn't even have an existence physical existence, they were completely virtual, fake, you know, totally, you know, so that that was that was like a big reminder to a lot of the third world countries that's what can happen to you, if you go so they you know, they are they have a very negative attitude towards online education. So this is what we are struggling with what we have to overcome. And, you know, that's that struggle of the next decade for us and you're ready for it. establish ourselves you've been struggling for decades. Already, Mashallah.
Yeah, yeah. Shallow, the life has been no struggle. But with the University of course, we just entering into our 10th year and
we have been struggling that whole time but under law.
This is a law created us in cupboard you know, law in Santa Fe.
But, so he's put these graders in struggle. And this is the, the essence of life. And it's that struggle, which brings out the best in us. So it's something, though it may not be in a pleasant,
to embrace that necessity. Yeah, Jeff has been an absolutely huge pleasure to spend some time with you, one to one privately. It's been wonderful to go through your journey, and I'm sure that everyone that's been watching, you know, they probably discovered a lot of things about you, which they didn't know about the journey and everything that you've been on. So chef, zaccaro thank you so much for for joining us.
My pleasure. Bhargavi come,
a wonderful opportunity to share, you know, what we have experienced, that others can benefit from benefit by and, you know, as the process has said, that, Dan, and finally, one who guides others to good is like the one who does the good. So if whatever people take out of what I've shared, you know, as guidance for them, and ideas, concepts, direction, focus. hamdulillah that's wonderful. That's rewards for me. And,
you know, I tried to maintain that
shared biases, openness, you know, to share with whoever, whether it's, you know, your program or other programs, people ask me all the time, and, you know, others will tell me, you know, whether you don't have time for that, you know, but no, and it's true is that sometimes I really don't have time for it. But, you know, the point is that, to try to reach out and to share, you know, it's very, very important for Muslims, if everybody but for Muslims, particularly in these times, you know, where we do need to work more closely together, to be able to
be in the forefront of the awakening, which began some decades ago.
hamdulillah we're still with that wave. And
we say Allahu Akbar and
sha Allah, Allah will make happen. What needs to happen Sharla Well, you've been very, very generous with your time, brothers and sisters. This is the Muslim CEO show. I hope you guys enjoyed the show. And I hope you go and check out Islamic online university. some amazing courses out there, no matter where you are from in the world, go check it out. And if you haven't already subscribed, please subscribe to the show. And check out the free training at Muslim ceo.com once again is upon us out to everyone watching and share has been an absolute wonderful pleasure. Thank you so much, and inshallah we'll see you soon. Samadhi koratala