2022 Zaytuna College Commencement President’s Welcome

Hamza Yusuf


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Salam alikoum Bismillah R Rahman Rahim wa salam ala honestly the Mohammed one early or certainly was salam. On behalf of the board of trustees, the faculty, staff and students, I'd like to welcome you all to the commencement ceremony of our graduating class of 2022 which has now begun, so please be seated

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Muhammad Allah subhanaw taala an ominous Koto praise God and express our gratitude to our Lord and Creator Sustainer of the heavens in the earth, all things living and inanimate. And we ask God to bless this gathering.

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And hamdulillah welcome, family, friends, supporters, the last two years have been very trying times for us. I think one of these solaces that we can find in it is the fact that that tribulation affected the whole planet. It wasn't simply an individual trial, which happens but when everybody shares in a tribulation, it certainly makes it lighter. Because it's, it's a collective trial. And so we can support one another.

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In in many ways, the response to the plague and plagues are very interesting. We think, when we think of plagues we really think of the something in the past, but plagues are part of the human experience. And even Hudson wrote his great mo Kadima as a result of witnessing what the devastating plague of the 14th century did to the lands, obviously, in Europe, but certainly in the Muslim lands, he said it changed everything. And in many ways, the plague has changed everything.

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Hindsight is always 2020, they say and I think in many ways,

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the overreaction was quite devastating a lot of our young people, I saw it with my own children who were in their last years of high school, the effects of being online for several hours a day. And I don't think that we've really taken into consideration the effect that it had on so many people.

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nonetheless, we obeyed the scientists and took their advice, we masked our faces, which certainly gave criminals an interesting perspective.

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It was also interesting to see France who had outlawed the face mask being forced to wear it

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in Toto, so.

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But Putin invaded the Ukraine, and suddenly it seemed like he had solved the COVID problem. Because everything changed after that. So here we are, we have three classes here today, by the way, and we made a mistake, because this is our smallest graduating class. And I did was tempted to rent a crowd.

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But I will say that it's a good class. And like the Jewish poet, Simone l said, You're a you're on an alien on Takata in Kurama, kalila. You know, they they find fault in us that were few, but I remind them that noble people are always few. So

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the class of 2020 2020 and 2021, some of them are here. And the graduate theological union actually had them walk with their students. So if you could just rise for people that are here from those two classes, if anybody's here. Yeah. So if you could just give them a.

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And then we also wanted to say tuna family. I don't know if Luis is here al beras. Is Lewis here

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Lewis is

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a dear member of the family and his father Javier is really a blessing to have here but Louise got his master's degree. And also Dr. Hussaini, got her PhD. So we have have had people here that are, despite the COVID were able to do things and possibly because of COVID I was able to finish a dissertation that I've been working on for 10 years, because I wasn't traveling anymore, and I didn't really have an excuse so

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our graduates stay in the BA program.

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They have I think, persevered online their sophomore and junior years we lost

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A few along the way.

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they're, I think, blessed with the fact that we've actually changed the degree title to better reflect what we do here at zaytuna. So it's actually a degree in liberal arts and Islamic Studies. And the reason for that is because

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we are really attempting to do the liberal arts here. And obviously, there's a lot of people that make jokes about liberal arts degrees. So you've probably heard a lot of them, you know, how do you get a liberal arts major off your porch? Paying for the pizza? Right? I mean, these hahaha.

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You know,

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the engineering major to ask how does it work? The Business major asked, How much is it worth? The science major asks, Why is it worth the liberal arts major ass? Do you want fries with that burger? Hahaha. You know, a liberal arts major.

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You know, what has four wheels and doesn't go anywhere? A liberal arts major. I lied about the wheels. Hahaha. You know, what's the difference between a philosophy major and a liberal arts major, the philosophy major will ask you why you're choosing paper over plastic. Hahaha. You know, so why don't you have a liberal arts college next to a post office, I made this one up, because the students will protest that the category male is a social construct.

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Someone said to me, what do you love, do what you love, and you'll never have to work a day in your life. So I got a liberal arts degree. Hahaha.

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Anyway, you get the point. Right? What did the chickpeas study at the liberal arts college philosophy, right.

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So there's a whole bunch of them and they make fun of liberal arts majors. But the reality of it is, the liberal arts actually built this country. The liberal arts gave Europe a supremacy over many places. The abandonment of the liberal arts in the Muslim

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community is arguably one of the major reasons for the decline of Muslim civilization. The fact that liberal arts degrees still represent despite the fact they're less than 3% of the degrees in this country. They represent almost 20% of the most influential people in the United States. So people can laugh at liberal arts, but the reality of it is the liberal arts is real. And it's powerful. And the very first art that is learned and you can see this in in that famous fresco that hangs in Paris

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Botticelli did where it shows a liberal arts student being held in a personification of beautiful woman personified personifying grammar. And he's being ushered into the other six liberal arts who are all personified as beautiful women, the idea that men studied and you should pursue the arts, like a man pursues a woman. In other words, fall in love, and then woo her until she succumbs to you.

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That's the old fashioned way of doing things. I know things are different these days. But anyway, that's the way people used to do it. So

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grammar is really important. My teacher Mater has wrote two major works, both in grammar. And I realized later that I think he was doing that because he realized that to really have any revival of a civilization or tradition, you have to begin in the beginning, which is grammar.

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Those who possess grammar, logic and rhetoric, they have advantages over other people for good and ill. The good use of these artists to fight for truth, justice, and to redress wrongs in the courts

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and from the pulpits and podiums. The evil use of the arts is for manipulation for propaganda through sophistry.

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Why were free blacks in the US denied the right to study grammar. I mean, it's a very interesting question. It was illegal to teach grammar you.

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Slaves in this country could be taught to read but they were not allowed to be taught the rules of grammar was very interesting.

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The great reformer David Walker who Imams aid, informed me that I had actually met with Amir Abdurrahman, so he had a impact on him. He memorized Murray's grammar, which was one of the most important books in early American history. And it was a book that Abraham Lincoln had memorized also was a grammar book.

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Walker wrote a famous pamphlet and appeal to colored citizens of the world, in which he condemned slavery and its abuses and the people that were abusing blacks in this country. But his appeal in the book was to study grammar.

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And that that his people needed to study grammar as a liberating force. And that when oppressed people acquire grammar, they acquire a power that without it they don't have this is something that the the more

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Marxist idiom log from South America, Paulo Ferreira understood very well, in his pedagogy of the oppressed. One of the things about oppressed people is they don't have even the language to articulate what they're experiencing. So they can only feel resentment and frustration. My father used to say that obscenity is always the refuge of people that don't have words, to express what's in their, in their heart. And so they they go to the default setting of an obscenity, and look how they proliferated.

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But it's not just for power that we learn these arts and they are powerful. We also learn them for the preservation of our civilization, our culture and its stability. Milton in a letter to an Italian group, Marian wrote, it is Plato's opinion than an alteration in the style and fashion of dress portends grave disorders and changes in the state. It's very interesting that the 1960s had a massive change in the way people dressed in this country.

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But here's what Milton says, I would maintain rather that when language falls into corruption and decay, the downfall of the state and a period of degradation and obscurity are at hand for it is not the use of words which are illiterate and mean incorrect in form for is it not the use of words which are illiterate and mean, like vulgar and low, incorrect in form or wrongly pronounced a very clear indication of a slothful and sluggish disposition among people and a proneness to submit to any form of slavery.

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These are called liberal from the Latin Liebherr which interestingly enough, means both free but it also means book

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another reason why these arts are so essential is that they teach people how to define and put limits on meanings. Humpty Dumpty, which is a book, it was, which is in a book that was written by a logician. A lot of people don't know that Lewis Carroll actually taught logic and he wanted to write a story for young people to understand what a world without logic looks like. That's what through the looking glass, and that's why we are through the looking glass.

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So what would that world look like? Well, Humpty Dumpty gives us a very insightful expression of what that world was. So Humpty Dumpty uses the word glory and Alice queries. I don't know what you mean by glory, said Alice. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. Of course you don't till I tell you what it means. I meant there's a nice knockdown argument for you. Alice says but glory doesn't mean a nice knockdown argument. When I use a word Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less. The question is, said Alice, whether you can make words mean so many different things. The question is, said Humpty Dumpty, which is to be

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master, that's all.

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Man, woman, marriage?

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What are these words mean?

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What do they mean? God, state law authority. If we don't give meanings to these, you know, De Gaulle said how do you rule a people that have 246 types of cheese? How do people communicate that now have 78 pronouns?

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So who is to be master I would argue those who master the liberal arts,

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the truth will always be a bargain in the marketplace of ideas, societies do go mad Historically, many have, and many will continue to do so. People also go mad. Nietzsche pointed out and I think accurately that, that very often. Madness is quite rare in individuals, but it's the norm in groups. And I think the Quran is test testimony to that because the Quran is a book of individuals going going up against group madness, to note right, the guided group in the Quran.

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It's all individuals.

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The truth will always be a bargain in the marketplace of ideas.

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So, the word for sanity is from a Latin word who was his health. Health is from an Anglo Saxon word, which means whole.

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You can't be whole In other words, you can't be truly sane without being whole. Meaning integrated in body, soul in mind, and most importantly, the heart. Which you have sound according to our prophets, Allah s&m If it's hole it's healthy, and the whole being is healthy on the day when nothing avails them save those who bring a sound heart to God, God lifted us with the human heart. We return that gift by protecting

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In our hearts from the snares and tribulations of this world, but by polishing it also because by the nature of the world the heart will oxidize the Prophet sallallahu sallam said everything rests, collusion, Yasuda, everything rests in the heart rests, which in scientific terms is oxidizes we now know that there are these anti these, these these antioxidants that

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in the body that you can actually protect your body from this oxidation occurring.

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But thicker is the way that our Prophet gave us to protect our spiritual hearts from rusting from oxidizing.

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And we polish it until with the remembrance of God until it perfectly refract reflects the attributes of God in the Imago Dei in which we were made. So in conclusion, we're certainly living in strange times. But one of the great blessings of an education rooted in the best of the past from all our great tributaries that flow into this river we call civilization is a recognition that every age is strange.

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We band of believers, we're were strangers in this world, if you don't feel strange.

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The the poet said in examining the 40 shoe, the mullah ujet dinner who Felisa BRPT we're living in an age of such madness. If it doesn't drive you mad, you weren't saying to begin with?

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So the Prophet reminded us, bless it are the strangers, the alienated ones, those who know the world is not their country, we're here on tourist visas.

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Do good. obey the laws, be upright, be virtuous, leave it in a better condition that you found it, hopefully. But they're, they're temporary visas.

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Like the man who got into paradise and he asked

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the angels if he could just visit hell. He said, You're in paradise endeavor you want. So he

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he got to visit Helen. It was fantastic. He met all these amazing people. Had a great time went back. He said, Yeah, can I visit it again? He said, You can do it. Yeah, he goes back even better time. Third time, he tells him You have to stay there. So he goes there and then the devil takes him to the hottest place in hell. He said, Whoa, I had such a good time. The first two visits he said no, no, that was a temporary visa. This is permanent residents.

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so it's a tradition to leave students with some advice. And I know our brother Tobias has some great advice for you. But I'll leave you with a few things. From three sources, our book, our Prophet and my favorite scholar from our tradition, from the book two points of some of everything you need to know for your personal life and your social interaction. The first for your personal life, ALLAH SubhanA wa Tada says in the Quran, we're not that was saying Alladhina Uhtred Kitab como el, any type of Allah, that we have counseled you and those who were given the book before you to be dutifully aware of your obligations to God, to be conscientious?

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And then one for all of your social interactions. Now Hi, Rafi. Kathina Minaj welcome Ilam and Amara B SATA cutten OMA rufen Oh, is London and NAS. There's no There's no good and most of your private conversations, except among those who are enjoined to charity enjoined, call others to virtue and reconcile among humanity, be people peacemakers.

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And then from our profits ally, Saddam, a man said, give me advice. I'll see Niara sobre la. And he said three times.

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Laptop, Bob, don't get angry. Don't let your emotions control you a part of the purpose of this type of education is that you actually become the writer. And don't let your beast ride you, which is your lower self. And then the prophesy. Sam said, say, Paul, I want to be led to Mr. Kim, say I believe in God and then be virtuous, be upright.

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And God has made us upright creatures. We're not like animals that walk on all fours, although we can become like that.

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And finally, my last piece of advice is one of the best things that I've ever read from our tradition. And it's from CDR Hammond solderable.

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And he makes this as an axiom for him. It's a principle he says the uniqueness of God most high in being perfect, decrees the existence of imperfection in every created thing. So there is no perfection unless God perfects God's perfecting is a result of God's Grace and Bounty. So imperfection is essential.

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perfection is accidental. Hence, to seek perfection in this world is vanity. Thus it has been said, look at people as if they were perfect, but consider the imperfection of their nature. If perfection appears in them, it is from the grace of God. Otherwise, imperfection is the norm. Based upon this view of the world prudence, good feelings and camaraderie and overlooking the mistakes of others can occur. This is how the world should be dealt with emammal Junaid said, I have taken as an axiomatic principle in my life through which I no longer find anything repulsive in this world. And it is this. The world is in a boat of distress, anxiety, trials, tribulations and strife and its nature is

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entirely deficient. Its decree is to assail me with everything that I find unpleasant or detestable. Hence, if wanting if I encounter this world with things that I love and enjoy, I know that it is from the bounty of God, otherwise the norm is ever as I have stated, so this is the world that we're in it's a trial and tribulation, the Abreu Komazawa I'm Allah may Allah subhanho wa Taala in sha Allah bless this

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cohort and also the previous two cohorts and all of our graduates and saw inshallah and we just hope Inshallah, that we've, we've benefited them and for our shortcomings, we would ask them, patience and forgiveness. Thank you