BBC Radio Five Live – Part 3

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Hamza Yusuf

Channel: Hamza Yusuf

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About three days call from kings, please read a very good morning good morning Cioffi.

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I heard about your work about 12 years ago from somebody who come from the States. And I've been praying fervently since then, that we have more people like you.

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I can handle my question to you is, ever since the speech on the axis of evil.

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It's feeling more and more like a crusade visibly, Christianity versus Islam.

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Do you perceive this modern conflict in the Middle East as a clash of civilizations? Or is it a clash of religious belief? I would call it a crash of civilizations. I think it's actually the absence of civilization that leads to to these types of conflicts. In terms of a crusade, I think that there's no doubt that there there are certain elements in the US that have a crusader mentality and we see this in the fundamentalist Christian branch. And and and there are people within the the administration that definitely cater to, to that to that element.

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I think that America, by and large, is as a country, and certainly the government is not opposed to a secularized Islam, that is an Islam that does really not impinge on the society at large. But I think when we talk about an Islam, for instance, that prohibits usury, interest, a lot of modern banking schemes, and Islam that also permits people to defend their homelands and things like this against aggression. Yeah, I think that there is definitely

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a feeling in the government that they do not want to see this type of Islam because it's antithetical to their interests in the region. And I think at root for most of these people, I don't think they're, they're ideologically committed to the Christian religion. to, to put it in those terms. I think it's much more simply about power politics and a kind of Machiavellian attempt at having their hegemonic concerns in the region fulfilled. Blair and bush, have they said they share a very similar platform of Christianity? You've spent a bit of time at least with President Bush, do you believe that Christianity lies somewhere within his kind of remit and purpose? I think

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definitely he he's got a Christian, some type of adherence to the Christian religion, no doubt, it helped him through his alcoholism.

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But again, I think that the people around Bush,

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by and large, I think are power politicians. And and I think that religion probably plays less of a role in their minds than political concern. Do you believe I could be very wrong about that. But that's, that's my gut feeling. Okay. Do you believe that President Bush's at all credible to the Muslim audience? No, I think that by and large, that America has lost all credibility in the Muslim world. I think that many, many Muslims actually look towards America, certainly during the 50s and 60s, as being a force that that might help them get out of the yoke of despotic regimes. But America ended up not only supporting but actively supporting many of these regimes. Certainly, Saddam

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Hussein is a is a creation by enlarge of the United States. And I think that's where, unfortunately, the hypocrisy is much more evident to most of the Muslims. And I think it's tragic, in a sense, because I think the ideals that America

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was founded upon,

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are powerful ideals and, and they're rooted also in in the Islamic tradition, as well the ideals of self determination and the right for people to pursue happiness and which are the bits that really don't fit were between

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American culture and society now. Yeah, I think that probably some of the most distasteful aspects of of Western culture generally are not just distasteful to Muslims. I think many just good people in the West find the the pornographic element the the the morality that is kind of permeated our culture. I mean, I've got children I don't like my children to look at billboards and and see, and it's not that I think that bodies are disgusting, and I don't, but I think that there's there's a time and a place for everything, and I certainly don't feel that that type of sexuality should be publicly displayed.

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those aspects and I think that, that by and large Muslim, share those with a lot of people in the West, does Tony Blair have a credibility to the Muslim audience? I think that that Blair, I mean, Michael Moore said that, you know, when you see Tony Blair and George Bush, standing side by side, he said, you see one intelligent man, and you wonder what he's doing with the other one. I mean, that might be a little unfair. But

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I do think that it's very sad that Labor has completely capitulated. And I did remark that it troubles me that the great,

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the great line of Great Britain has become a feather in the tail of the American Eagle. I mean, I think that that Great Britain should play an extraordinary role of being a moral voice in the West. And I think that the Great Britain can be that voice that reminds America that not only is the path that it's pursuing a dangerous one, but it's the one that Great Britain herself has been down. And that's the path of Empire. And ultimately, it leads to failure. And, and I think that the British people are acutely aware of that, because they saw it in their own history, and joins us from Glasgow. Good morning in Hello, yes, good wine, I would like to know how you define Empire, because

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at the height of the Ottoman Empire and the 20th century, I don't know if your listeners are aware of this or not. The worst atrocities committed in the history of mankind, prior to the First and Second World Wars, was committed by

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the Turkish Muslims against

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1 million to one and a half million Christians killed because they will not have the faith of the Muslim, that's also please May I speak, because we do have freedom of speech in this country, in certain Islamic countries, I would not be able to express myself, as I am just now and near with you, if I was in certain Islamic countries, could I just also say to you that some it seems extraordinary that we have a situation just now where everything seems to be down to the, the, the the satanic West, when in fact, if you consider the history of the Islamic faith, you do seem to be based your your your tenants on hate, and not in moderation, that you have a problem, I think with

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the moderate Muslims, should be challenging the authority of the extremists, the mullahs in the Imams. If you don't have a situation, then I'm afraid that the rest of the world the rest of the major religions of the world,

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are going to perceive the Islamic faith as based on fear and injustice, which particular states and regimes any talking about? Well, in Egypt, for example, you do have what you would call a moderate Muslim country, where I believe 20% of the population in Egypt is not of the Muslim thing. But you have you have Islamic extremists in that country where if they were to take over the mainstream people in Egypt just now, they would reduce the the Muslim, the non Muslims to zero. In Saudi Arabia, for example, you only have one religion permitted there, which is based on a hideous regime where all sorts of atrocious sentences are passed on individuals because they their challenge the

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authority of that state?

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Well, let's just let's just try to tackle that. And shake hands. Would you admit that the does need to be more forward thinking a wider appreciation of freedoms that the West have embraced in some parts of the Muslim world? Absolutely. I mean, I don't, but but I must address the, the idea that the the Ottomans that this the worst atrocity ever in the history of I mean, that's blatantly false. It's well known. The Armenian tragedy did happen, happened by most historians, there was a recognized exaggeration of numbers because of anti Russian propaganda at the time,

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but rather anti Turkish propaganda at the time, based on Britain's interests there. But But the point about the the Ottomans at that point, it was already a secularized government. In fact, the Armenians were well known to be one of one of the few communities in that region that had reached very, very high levels within the Ottoman government itself, ministerial levels and things like that. And I think the Ottomans, actually, by and large with their atrocities, because like any empires, they did have their atrocities. But by and large, they were known to be one of the most tolerant civilizations in the pre modern world, certainly rice in the modern world, in the modern

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world. We've got a real serious problem in the Muslim world. There's no doubt and I think that the suffering that goes on again, is is I mean, I live

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In the Muslim world, and I certainly many of the things that I saw, I think the, the, the abuse of women in, in many of the countries that has to do with just ignorance, I really feel that and, and it wasn't that long. I mean, we forget that women didn't inherit in this country in the 19th century. I mean, we kind of pride ourselves on these leaps and bounds that we've made in the last few decades. But the reality of it is, I mean, if we look at our own history, I mean, it took quite a considerable amount of time to achieve certain things that we've achieved in the West. And I think that in the Muslim in the difference short, is that I mean, the suffragette movement in this country

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was one where women were prepared to lose their own lives in the name of freedom. Whereas if you're a woman living in Jordan, or Saudi Arabia, then you are more likely to lose your life at the hands of the state, if you try and pursue ultimate freedom than at your own hands. And that surely is wrong. And you can, you know, you can say not gonna just make, you have to look forward. Exactly. And I'm not going to what I'm saying is that change does take time. I mean, we forget the revolutions that we've had, we forget all the blood that's been spilt in, in western civilization that we can speak freely, you know, many of us would have been plebeians in another age, we wouldn't

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even have the right to be discussing government policy that was the, the right of the Lords and and the aristocracy. Well, people fought and died in order for us to have the and and people just kind of forget that they think that we we just, it's always been like this, it hasn't always been like this. And I think it's going to take a lot of time for other parts of the world to achieve certain levels of liberty and freedom. And I would like to see it done without the type of bloodshed that has occurred. And I think that it's it's very easy for us to point our fingers at other societies and civilizations, I'm not defending the Muslim world, per se, I I'm I grew up in California, I was

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raised by a woman who was very active, my mother was very active in the civil rights. I grew up in a liberal progressive tradition, I'm not going to, to defend despotism, I'm not going to defend the the atrocious human rights records, in in many parts, not just of the Muslim world, but around the world. But I'm certainly also very aware of how easy it is to attack that world without really understanding it at a much deeper level. I mean, if you take a book by the brilliant British historian, David Frank and a piece to end all peace, I mean, he shows you that it was in fact, Britain and France that set up a type of scenario in the Middle East with that would ensure that the

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that the countries in that area would remain in this type of morass that isn't the real danger and taking all those lessons from history, that the place that we find ourselves in at the moment, which is slightly kind of fists up between two massive cultures will actually lead to both suffering, there will not be the tie up, this has progressed. Thank you. I mean, I that is exactly how I feel. And I and I think that if we don't listen to each other, and it's going to be very difficult, but it's going to take some real intelligence and, and and reason and, and I think that's what human beings, unfortunately are not very adept at when they're when they're just constantly in the the

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turmoil and agitation of crisis management. It's been wonderful having you here. Thank you very much indeed for coming in. Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, thank you for all the calls. And I know that we didn't manage to put very many on air but we do appreciate the fact that you're listening and wanting to get involved his honor with the travel and selling the 875 remains closed was in accidents recovered between balfron and the eight double one junction at Comic Hill. The