Establish Islamic Studies Program
Channel: Hamza Yusuf
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I was asked to
talk. And the main reason I did that is because I'm actually a Spartan.
I went to San Jose State, and I was in the Religious Studies Department. And I also did work in the philosophy department with an award and benefited greatly from him. He's still there. But
I also had an incredible teacher while I was there. I think in generally, in school, you usually have one or two really amazing teachers, and then all the other ones, you're wondering what you're doing in the class, wasting your time. So you could be actually reading something more interesting somewhere else. But good teachers are, they have an amazing impact on you. And the person that that I was really impacted there, by was Ken Kramer, who was in the Religious Studies Department, just a really extraordinary person who brought so much presence into his classroom, in teaching, and that's the great gift of teachers is that they, when they're good, they bring presence into the classroom.
And they're really there. Ezra Pound said that,
that if you're not excited about teaching a book, if you're not as excited about teaching that book,
The first time you taught it, then you shouldn't be teaching it. And to have a teacher like that is a great gift. And that was one of the gifts I think that I had, I spent a lot of time with him. And he actually used to have me give the lectures on his Islamic sections, because he also taught Islam and for Dune was there at one time, and freedom. And I asked him about that. And he said, Well, I don't, I don't want to teach Islam, if I've got Hamza here, and that was just from his humility, and generosity, because he was well versed in and quite capable of teaching at the undergraduate level.
But what I want to talk about tonight,
is something that Dr. amatola mentions in his paper, which is really worth reading for, I think all the Muslims, which is living Islam with purpose, and he talked about the operational principles that our community needed to be committed to. And those operational principles that that Dr. Omar
mentions, are principles that he says should really be the foundation of the Islamic community in the United States.
The first one was trusting reason.
One of the things that I think a lot of Muslims are unaware of in the modern period, they, they assume somehow that reason was a school called the Morteza diet, that was the School of reason. And then what it is at night, were defeated by the, the defenders of faith. And so unfortunately, a lot of what you see out there being presented as Islam is often devoid of reason. It's what they call NACA, without the APA, it's having the the transmission without having the intellect that goes with it. And it's a big problem in our community. So we get a lot of really ridiculous things that Muslims come up with. And a lot of what you're seeing in the Muslim world,
from these so called Muslim groups, and organizations and leaders, has nothing to do with
our tradition. It's actually a completely misguided approach to Islam, the dominant schools of Islam, all of them hell, that you needed reason with revelation, you could not have one without the other. And so trusting reason and the idea that Islam is a rational tradition, it's founded on rationality, that we actually believe that the Koran is a book that gives us arguments. There's a lot of people that say one of the things that atheists talk about, and our scholars debate about circularity in in theology, but one of the things that a lot of atheists drive them mad about religious people, as they say, you know, why do you believe in the Bible because it's from God? Have
you noticed from God because it's in the Bible, and so this type of circular reasoning really drives the rationalist mad, but if you actually look at the Koran, email, notice that he wrote a book called The
Just balanced, responsible stuffing. And in that book, he shows that there are 22 rational arguments that God presents in the Quran for why you should actually believe in the Quran? And why don't you believe in God, and why you believe in resurrection. And they're actually set up according to a moment of anxiety in the Five golden syllogistic approaches of rational thought, and he proved this in his book. And it makes a strong argument that the Quran is actually it's a dialectic with humanity. It's challenging people to actually think about these arguments
and reasons with them. The Quran doesn't just say believe, but it actually gives you reasons to believe why you should believe the Quran says, Do you think that that you just were created from nothing and there's no meaning to your life? Yes, everyone in Central America, you think the human being is just going to be created, and and that's it, and then you die. And it's just gonna be like the people that say, no to an idea, or maybe
we die and we live, you know, we have people die the generations before. And then new ones come. And it's just materialism, that's the only thing that's affecting us is time itself, the materialistic approach. So the Quran makes all of these arguments. And then 50 is a rational project that we're gonna we're always used reason.
The basis of fifth is reason. And they make all these arguments of why you should do this. And they have makkasan, they have the the six universals. And every Islamic law goes under one of these six reasons. So the prohibition of alcohol is to protect the intellect. The prohibition of usury is in fact, possible. Edina Razi gives five rational reasons why usury is prohibited.
And one of them is the boom bust cycle, because the Quran actually refers to a boom bust cycle when it says that people that do usury are like people that get up and then fall down again.
like as if they've been afflicted by a demon, that greed makes them fall into these patterns of boom bust, because they know that eventually usery by its very nature, is going to create these cycles. The other reason that fascinating gives about usury on the prohibition of usury is he says that it encourages a type of financial adventurism that doesn't involve risk. And so what happens is, because people can make money, by lending their money, they actually don't do things that are difficult to do or risky. And you can see this beautifully articulated in The Merchant of Venice, when Antonio who's risking everything with his ships, and the user is he's just staying at home
loaning his money out to people who aren't risking their money.
He's not risking his money. And and Shakespeare makes a very interesting dialectic in there about these two approaches to well.
So trusting reason, he says, is really important for our community. One of the things that postman set showed in a book about dallah. In America, this is a Christian researcher that studied Islamic conversion in the United States. And one of the things that he found is that people in America that convert, one of the main reasons they give is that Islam was much more rational than the religions they had before it actually made sense to them.
And yet, unfortunately, some of the converts once they get into Islam, they actually fall victim to the most irrational
approaches to Islam.
The idea that you can harm somebody, like an innocent person, but you can harm an innocent person.
Because the end justifies the means something very alien to the Islamic tradition, but unfortunately, we have young converts that have fallen into this
goes against everything. The second thing is that he said, an operational principle meaning something that we apply, it's operative in our communities, is respecting dissent.
Again, there is a type of Islam that has emerged that really comes across as an Islam that doesn't allow dissenting opinions. This is the way it is brother. This is God's ruling. This is what God says you're going against what God says.
The vast majority of what we have in our religion is
Actually, what we think God probably meant
in the Quran is that what God meant is what we think he meant. And this is why our scholars differentiated between what are called presumptive proofs and decisive proofs of puffery. And on one knee.
The vast majority of Islamic legal rulings are presumptive, they're not designed to be decisive. And for that reason, when situations arise, where you get these differences of opinion, the scholars will not take one or the other, or they'll choose one. So they'll either leave you the option of taking this that or the other A, B, or C, or they'll say, I think this is a stronger opinion, or they'll say, this is definitely a stronger opinion. And this is a weak opinion. So they'll have weak opinions. But an interesting principle in our tradition is that if a weak opinion becomes the practice of the people, then our focus has said it should be left alone, because it will cause
tribulation in the community to try to redress it.
So we get these self righteous people that want to come into the community say, you can't do that that's a bit daft, or that's this or your proof is weak, but it's the practice of the people. And this is why Andrew sia, for instance, they used to raise their hands into arm right after the prayer in the Mauna Kea
meds have that's considered a weak position that the mom shouldn't make do after the prayer. That's the preferred position. But the ultimate, Andrew CSN has become so widespread, that to stop to try to stop people to do this would actually create dissension amongst the brothers and sisters. And so it will, cause it'll cause the hearts to become
a verse to actually go into the masjid.
Another one they mentioned is putting the feet next to each other. One of the early, even 100, nice banana said one of the Sahaba said that, and he was a young boy, when they did this, they said that we used to put our feet next to each other behind the profit. So I sit down. And then he said, Now if somebody did it today, the other guy would move away from you. That was during the time of the Prophet slicer. So there's an example of maybe they did it as a practice, but it never became normative amongst the Muslim. And so for people to skip that hobby, and try to apply it today and force other people to follow it is actually going against the spirit of Islam. But this is the type
of ignorance that we have in our community, because we have all these weekend movies.
We have all these weekend movies, and they're proliferating, I know I don't want to be called shifting because there's so many shifts now that it's really, you know, So today, I'm going to be referred to as Colonel.
Because I'm actually a Kentucky Colonel.
It's a lot harder to become a colonel today than it is to become a ship.
So just trusting reason is very important, and respecting dissent. Those two, if we could just take those as operational principles in our community, it would resolve a lot of problems. Another thing that he said is stressing societal obligations. And what he means by that is our scholars divided obligations the wedgie back into two times for our elven Keifa. And for our either aim for either key via our collective obligations for either aim are those individual obligations. Now one of the problems in our community is there's so much devotional focus on the individual obligations, that all of the collective obligations have been neglected. So we've forgotten that we have collective
obligation for instance, taking care of the needy, in your community, that is a collective obligation of a society. You should take care of the needy right now. There's people in on the East Coast that need help. If you saw the man from the woman from Staten Island, screaming out, we're gonna die. She She wasn't joking. Staten Island was devastated by this event. And the head of Staten Island borough came on the news and also made a plea and it had a reaction because Obama made a personal phone call. They actually sent in FEMA, they started helping them but that is an obligation on the community to help an area that's distressed or in need. People have a right what's called
happening in our tradition, the right to be safe. We actually believe that health care is a right so this idea that you know, the people all that that is a privilege. No, it's a right and that is why in this country despite whether what you know whether people know this or not, you can
Turn away somebody from an ER because they don't have insurance or something like that. But what's happened is the ers are becoming primary care clinics because so many poor people show up at the ER, facilities for primary care. So it's a crisis that comes from the neglect of physicians in private clinics that are taking a certain number of the indigene.
Bill and Charlie Mayo, the famous Mayo Clinic, 30% of all of their patients were treated that gratis for free, because that was part of the American tradition, that being a physician was a vocation that you actually had to help other people.
But in an age of iron Rand's philosophy, right when I ran become some kind of serious philosopher. I mean, it's like if you've ever seen or interviewed you, like if I was doing an alien movie,
and she walked in and I you know, I was casting I would just think, Wow, no makeup.
I've got an alien.
I mean, she's just such a strange being. And and very, very weird philosophy. If anybody's ever attempted to read the fountainhead? I don't know. I mean, it's supposedly it's a best seller in America, but so is 50 Shades of Grey. So it's not saying a whole lot about America. I mean, my America, you know, I didn't
show the temples a little before my time, but I did see Shirley Temple movies as a boy.
It's a long way from Honey Boo Boo
is Shirley Temple.
It's kind of dignified little girl that acted like an adult. And now we have
you know, these spastic children with parents that are acting like spastic children as well. It's just become so surreal. His whole thing out there. I don't know what's going on. But I really, we have to ask ourselves how we went from Leave it to Beaver to Beavis and Butthead. How did that happen? What happened in America? You know, why is this culture become so degraded?
So anyway, the collective responsibility. This is something that this is part of what we're doing here, because we tend to forget, and I'm going to, I really think we as a as a
community, in the Bay Area, we should make it a priority to make the Bay Area, the number one center for Islamic Studies, not in the United States.
I say reach for the stars
in the whole world.
to be in doubt,
San Jose State, we already had the ambassador award that giving the endowment at Stanford.
Amazing, a lot of money, you know, really.
We have the ggu graduate theological union. We've got Munir de la Dr. Munir g was there, we should support the the Islamic Studies Department at the GTU to see that bill into a really world class department of Islamic Studies. They have a joint program with Berkeley so they have access with the Berkeley facilities. The language facilities of Berkeley are stunning. We can really be producing some amazing scholars. San Jose State is the oldest university in the United States. And California is the oldest one in California and San Jose State. Berkeley started in 1864. With 40 students, and 10 instructors, 40 students and 10 instructors. Today, they have 40,000 employees, and their yearly
budget is about $11 billion.
And they're a powerhouse Berkeley produces. People that go into the State Department, they produce people that go into the administration to the cabinet itself. They've got a professor, they're now teaching economics, there was the secretary of labor.
So these these are institutions that impact the society, because they've been built.
And so looking at our societal obligations, we have to see one of the main collective obligations in this country is for us to establish Islamic institutions and also to make sure that the
existing institutions have qualified and well run Islamic departments. Because for too long, Islam has been marginalized into a certain Religious Studies Center where they had people that weren't really qualified to be teaching Islam. And people that had their degrees, for instance, in Jewish Studies, they would just be Oh, yeah, that's near Islam. Can you do a course on Islam? Sure. You know, so you have or somebody who did Buddhist studies, Buddhism, yeah, that's one of those religions over there Eastern religion can you do as long? No, we need schools that have trained people. Because Islam is a very extensive and difficult study. It's not easy to really learn Islam
as you should. And then the next
operational principle that he argues, is the idea of stressing priorities. And this is what our tradition called the intimate Mulana. In the past. Separate Olympiads is what they use today, the idea of triage and what are the most important things, and we had a system of doing this borrow rod has yet to be seen yet, our scholars articulated a beautiful system of necessities needs embellishments, necessities, needs embellishments, that you should always prioritize necessities. And then you go to when the necessities are taken care, you go to the needs, when the needs are taken care of, you go to the embellishments. So an example just an example, they use the example of
a house people need shelter, especially in areas where it's cold. So you can have a door and that's enough.
That's a necessity just to get in the house. But a need is have windows. And then the embellishment is have curtains. Because that's part of what humans do is they embellish their lives because we're people of s and we like beauty, Allah has made us to love beauty. And so this is why historically, things were done to change the atmosphere. You don't really need these things. But we do them. These are embellishments. I mean, you everybody has different aesthetic tastes, right?
I'm more of kind of classical approach to architecture and things. But you know, Gandhi has its lovers as well, you know. So there was a mansion I saw once
built by, I won't say from which country but from a Muslim country. We'll draw the veil of generosity over them. And and they were in, in, down in LA, and they put flesh colored instead of having the white marble nude statues, they had them painted flesh colored. The neighbors were really bothered by it.
But right, some people like Gandhi, right, in fact, the guy was from a country that rhymes with Gandhi.
And then the last
operative principle was
embracing our legal Maxim's and one of the most intriguing aspects of the Islamic tradition is that the Muslims, they, they actually
they developed an approach to Islamic law that
facilitated being able to apply in any given circumstance, a ruling based on these overarching universal principles. And this is one of the great accomplishments and one of the most amazing things about the legal Maxim's is that there are
about 40 of them. And certainly
20 are almost entirely agreed upon by all of our Muslim jurists, whether they're Shia or Sunni, they agree on these Maxim's and so they apply these Maxim's one of them and the most important is to be mocassin idea that the reason you do things is because you have aims and purposes. The reason you do things is for aims and purposes. For instance, if you look in the old books of phip, there's something called inner humors and Abu inner humors Elgin de fille ado, it's too for a soldier when he's on a battlefield to run into the enemy, like just charge in, even if it's possible that he would die. That's something that's mentioned in books and when you look into
If you look at the Moxon of that, the aim or the purpose, email, so he says, commenting on that, that this was in order for the enemy to see the power and the beauty of Islam. Do you already have bullets in Islam, which commanded Islam fishes, your ethical God, so that he can see the beauty of Islam in the courage of the soldier. And this was something that historically, the people that the Muslims came up against, and fought, we're always in awe of their courage on the battlefield,
never have a situation where people will take that principle, and they will apply it to getting on a bus and blowing up a bunch of innocent civilians.
So there's absolutely no understanding
there. Or you could look at the apostasy laws, which historically were to protect Islam, and to protect people and their faith. Now, they have the effect of alienating people from Islam. But if you don't have a way of understanding your religion, that is intelligent and intelligible.
Then you end up doing the most heinous things. Something a Western philosopher said, it takes evil people to do evil, right for the sake of evil, right. But it takes religious it takes it takes evil people to do evil, but it takes religion to make good people do evil.
Right. But I wouldn't say it takes religion to make good people do evil, it takes Bad Religion, to make good people evil religion, because there is evil religion. There is understandings that are shuttered.
And in fact, the Prophet used that work. And I will walk around Delano. When, when, when he's when, when he said he needed to get the heck out from the view. He said, How the hell when he wrote the book down, he said, How the hell This is good. There's also sharp, there's evil, there's good and evil, there's must have the heart and muscle that there's benefit and harm. So it's really important.
Now, the second one is the idea that harm should be removed.
Home should be removed. That's a maxim in our tradition about our user, the province Alliance him said that, without their auto, there's no harm and there's no reciprocating harm, you should not harm others, nor should you reciprocate home, if it's down to you, if somebody hits you with your car, you don't pull into reverse and smash into their car.
Because that's reciprocating their heart. Hopefully, you get out and exchange insurance. And if he's an illegal, you just relax, and recognize that
there are those less fortunate than you in this world. These you've got somebody to pay for your car to get fixed, that poor guy doesn't.
And then you don't know his story. And he could have been the guy that was mowing your lawn last week.
Right? Or he could have been the guy picking those grapes you have for breakfast.
There was also I wanted to mention, I usually don't make any political things. But please vote yes, on 37.
if you don't know about that, it's about the GMOs. And if you look at the amount of money that the corporations have put into creating a false information about this and propaganda, it's amazing. like they've spent literally millions and millions of dollars, to get people to think that this is a bad thing, but you should know what's going into your body. And we and that's one of the blessings we have in this country, is that you can petition your government to redress wrongs, and it's wrong to put things that are potentially harmful into food. And then there's other things that are established as harmful and carcinogenic, that are in food. And so we have the right to petition our
government, and that's what this is about. So, if you haven't voted already, early voters get out on
Tuesday and vote.
You know, I don't know who you're gonna vote for.
you have to look, here's another Maxim, a half $1 rain, your ticket, the lesser of the two evils should be chosen.
That's a legal Maxim in Islamic law. You have to look at the lesser of the two evils. Right.
we have an immense opportunity. We have a
A lot of wealth in this community, you need to spend your wealth. I'll conclude by just saying this, my experience, and I had the,
you know, I don't know if I'll call it an opportunity, but I had the interesting experience of being part of the C 100. So for six years, they invited me last year, and I didn't go
by my own choice, but I had the opportunity of going to Davos for six years at the World Economic Forum. And it's an opportunity to mingle with some of the most powerful and wealthiest people on the planet.
So I'm going to tell you, what happens at the end of this journey for success. Okay, here's what happens. When you get to the end.
a Mercedes, a BMW,
a Jaguar, maybe a Rolls Royce. That's it. There's, there's not that many choices.
If you get really, really big, you get your custom made. Mercedes, right. And I was actually in a car with a very wealthy man that when we turned the seat turned with you.
It was very disorienting.
But he got used to it.
So you also, if you're in the Bay Area, you will live up in
like, these hills up, you know, there's hills over there near Hillsboro,
you'll live up there. And you'll have neighbors that, you know, you'll kind of wave you will know their names, you won't know them, you'll wave to them that way back to you. You'll probably have big pillars on your front door mock imitation of some Greco Roman ideal, maybe a little jockey on the lawn. Right? Probably not a black one anymore, because that's unacceptably politically incorrect. And the rich people used to have little African American jockeys on the front lawns, right. But that's, that's what the type house you have, you probably have heated toilet seats, because you don't want to have cold bottom.
You have heated toilet seats, you'll have like Oliver glasses all over people's glasses, you know, really expensive ones. You might even have handmade one, you'll have a Montblanc pen in your pocket, you'll have a Rolex watch, or maybe a cardiac or something like that. You know, it's just so predictable.
I mean, really, it's so free, and I'd see one guy after another, and they all use the same thing.
It was just so predictable.
You know, at least I mean, the old people back in the old days, they had their own private tailors. They had, you know, I mean, well meant something now you're just basically a commercialized clone.
You look like everybody else, right? You're going to see a coat like this, right? This one I had made.
In Turkey, I have a tailor. Like I go to Turkey, and there's a guy who's a tailor. They're beautiful man, he prays five prayers in the masjid, all the linen is fair trade. And all fair trade. I don't have to worry about the linen being from some sweatshop somewhere. And these guys, they're a brotherhood. They live in this one little area and assemble and they'll pray and fast together and eat together. And I go and he would tell me no, no, you should have baggy pants and not so nice to those tight pants. I said, I live in America, you know, those baggy pants and start laughing at you. And I said anyway, that's all goes under. Oh, because Adam had come out that's a legal Maxim that
the customer with people is recognized and *tier as long as the province had meant to shut down the government for Minho. If you imitate a people, you're like them, right? But he didn't say man, you should be the one who looks or resembles of people's from them. He said mentor Shabaab to shut the hell up in Arabic is to Canada. It's you're imitating them because you have an inferiority complex, you want to be like them, because you're not you feel insufficient in yourself. And so you want to look like somebody else. Whereas if you're just wearing the normative clothes of a society that is not to shovel
because there's another idea that the Arabs they have turned off, go against the norm, and you stick out like a sore thumb. Right? So this this is uh, this is, you know, this just using reason. So anyway
that's the end of your wealth. You
No, and then you leave it to ungrateful kids.
You know, seriously. I mean, just let them earn it like you did, they'll appreciate it more.
Give it all to them. Because, you know, college, college in this country used to be, you know, rich men sending their sons to school to kind of render them harmless. And that was the idea right?
And and and, and then they started letting poor kids come into school to learn how to become rich. Right. So they kind of spoiled and then they call it nouveau riche normally like them, like The Great Gatsby. And if you read a wonderful story about that Great Gatsby, right.
Jay Gatsby, somebody that the American dream, which really ends in tragedy, his pursuit is empty pursuit of wealth, the blinking green light is empty pursuit of the dollar. Because that's what it is. When Sandy comes, it can take all that stuff away from you. Really? There's people No, they don't have houses nothing. And you know, the thing people haven't thought about all the rats are coming up. Right, because there's more rats in New York City underground than there are overcrowded. And there's a lot of them on Wall Street, right? Where the three piece suits. Right. But there's more underground than overground. And they're coming up. Because they you know, they're they got
drowned out. And their man rats survived everything. Okay, rats, they say it when the nuclear thing comes. It's just the cockroaches and the rats, everything else is gone. Right? It's interesting. So that's it, you know? And yeah, you have to you have to decide what you want to do with all that money. Because a lot of you have a lot of money. And if you're where you are, you're comfortable, you know, that's fine. I'm comfortable. If you're comfortable. shediac allows it as long as you're doing what you should be doing for other people to collect obligations because those collective obligations become greater. The more wealth you have, the more wealth the more responsibility. We're
not iron randian followers objectivist philosophy, selfishness is not in our religion. We don't have that concept. Our profits Eliasson did not go to sleep with money in his house. That's as soon as you don't have to follow that he had to do that. And aboubaker did the same thing. He followed him That's why he has the highest macom Omar gave half of his Well, that's why he's on the other people gave a third or a 10th or whatever they gave.
But to hoard it, then your body
and the Prophet said, Halloween I cut down on one minute, but is there a pathology more pathological than miserliness?
Is there a disease or a sickness more pathological than miserliness. In fact, in Arabic, you might have heard this before, but in Arabic, the word promisor is moosic. But here's one of them sick is another, it's the same word for constipated.
Because wealth is like feces, you have to spread it around in order to get benefit from it.
Right, really, that's what you have to do. It's like feces, you spread it around, like you take the manure and you spread it around and everything grows. But if you keep it all in one place, it's just a massive stench that will drive you mad.
So just let it go.
Really take an enema. Just let it go.