Channel: Hamza Yusuf
The Name of God, the Most Merciful, the most compassionate.
Also the law
slightly was sent him to schema, what I hold on one accord in.
First of all, given that we're in Berkeley, I don't want anybody to hold it against me that I advise the president.
I also would say that he did not take my advice.
I just came from six weeks of touring, I was in the UK, I went to Denmark, and, and then to Qatar, where I was involved in what they called a high level, United Nations meeting there. And United Nations was actually founded, according to
its foundational documents, as an attempt to actually end war. After World War One, there was an attempt to found the League of Nations which did not succeed was Wilson's dream. And he actually had a stroke during the Versailles Treaty. But it really never formulated or came to anything. But the United Nations was founded, apparently, to end war. What's interesting is that
the five permanent members of the Security Council, the united nations, beginning with the United States are the biggest sellers of armaments on the planet.
And it's a little like
putting Jessie and Frank James, on the board at the bank.
You know, it's it's a very odd thing. If you think about it, you know, that these people are the people that are supposed to give us security, and yet they're flooding the world with armaments.
And I really believe that the great moral
task ahead of us is to bring down the armaments trade. I think it's probably it is the great moral issue of the 21st century in the same way that abolition was the moral issue of the 19th century. And in many ways civil rights was the issue of the 20th century. I absolutely believe that ending the arms trade, the global arms trade, is the moral issue of our generation.
Whenever you see these wars, and Chris Hedges and we have to honor him for his his courage to do what he did, but whenever you see these wars, you should really know that the arms that they're using were not produced in those countries. Sierra Leone does not have armaments, factories.
Sierra Leone has diamonds.
And diamonds buy weapons, because that's how the weapons were purchased in Sierra Leone.
The seventh largest purchaser of arms on this planet is Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia does not produce it's a country of 19 million people. It does not produce armaments.
It is follows India, a country of over a billion people. Saudi Arabia has 19 million people and yet, it is the seventh largest purchaser of arms, why? It doesn't use them. When they were threatened with invasion, they asked the Americans to come.
So the reason is because it's a way of recycling Petro dollars back into our economy.
That's all it is. It's Raytheon's welfare.
It's General Electric.
All of the we bring good things to death.
Really, I mean, these are and we're all complicit. You know, we have lights, you know, GE when you put that in there, we're all we're supporting it. And, and that's, you know, that's the challenge that we have and I don't envy the young people because the world
We're offering them, dealer world that we're handing over to our children. For God's sake, do you know I mean, I just feel like we should be doing something. For these children, I look at my children. I've got a seven year old that's constantly asking me questions. And he recently asked me, if you had to choose, would you rather have a hot death or a cold death.
And I don't know if he was referring to,
you know, nuclear holocaust, as opposed to the global warming that's actually making our weather in the Bay Area, a little colder.
I, when I look at my child, with his bright eyes,
and his total trust in me,
and then I have to realize that he needs to come of age, he needs to leave the Garden of Eden, and abandon that innocence and come to a realization of the type of world that has been handed to him. Much of it is defined by war. We don't like to think about the conflicts globally. But we are almost directly involved in all of the major conflicts around the globe, somehow, this country, our country, the United States of America, we are a country of like all great nations, immense paradox, immense paradox. And that's probably at the root of war, because war is paradoxical. On the one hand, nobody wants to go to war, or so we say. On the other hand, it's something that our culture
rebels in the great generation.
Tom Brokaw telling us about the great generation, the great generation, bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear weapons. The great generation is guilty of war crimes against huge civilian populations in Germany, Hamburg, Dresden. We don't like to think about that. Because collectively all of the Germans were guilty. We demonized them, not we but the people before us. I was once in a grocery store and and it was a Time magazine cover somebody was buying it ahead of me. And it had a big mushroom and it said, Why did we drop the bomb? That was the time headline. And the lady bringing it up said Why did we drop the bomb? And I just said Listen, I didn't have anything to do
Nothing I wasn't even born yet. And I don't like that implication. You know of Time Magazine. The Quran says Ticket Ticket Oman a cadet the hammer because of those people are gone and they have what they earned your previous generations. And this is part of the major problem that we have on this planet is collective guilt is this projection of guilt on to a collective group of people, what Erikson called pseudo speciation. It's a great word. I like words like that pseudo speciation.
Erik Erikson, the psychologist said that pseudo speciation is our propensity
to, to basically other eyes, people to deem them as less than human. It's what Hitler did with the Jews in Germany. They were less than human intermesh I think is is the word.
The Germans consider themselves uberman you know, like Superman, Nietzsche is Superman. So everybody else was Mench. And then you had the the less than human I was once in Spain, we were going up a street in in Grenada and very unusual person was asking for money on the street. And I really I mean, sometimes you see people and you you really marvel at just their form and where they came from the womb they came out of it's it's fascinating, but I was struck by this person and the person I was with is Spanish man. He said I'm in for Oman was a key. You know, he said there's a lot of infrared Romanos that was the first time I'd ever heard that word. You know less than human which
the person wasn't but it was that is pseudo speciation. It's to deem somebody as less than human and we can't go to war without doing that.
You cannot go to war without doing
That to other people. It's called Guantanamo maizing your enemy?
Right? Guantanamo isn't your enemy, they have no rights. They're not human, they're terrorists, and terrorists are evil. And we're good. And therefore, by eliminating evil, we're doing something that is good.
This is the justification.
If you're not with us, you're with the terrorists, which was an attempt at paraphrasing Christ who made a spiritual statement. He's not with me as against me, which is a spiritual statement. But unfortunately, and this is a problem. I know that God wants did speak through a bush. But we have
we have a president, who's who's misunderstanding that that was a burning bush, that that wasn't, that wasn't a burnt bush. That was a burning bush.
You know, and that's the problem with this country is that we're not setting our sights high enough, really, we're not aiming high enough as a people. And when you don't aim high enough, you either shoot yourself in the foot, or you shoot your friend. That's, that's a big problem that we've got in this country.
You know, it's time that we really started setting our sights a little higher, because the the foundational principles of this civilization are very high ones. And, and although
Unfortunately, there were atrocities, and there's terrible things that occurred
at the hands of the early people in this country. But again, we did not inherit their evils, but we have benefited from their good. And it's very dangerous to demonize people because of some of their actions, and not recognizing all of their actions. Because all of us are an ad mixture of good and evil. And in the melodramatic world of cartoons.
Where good is good and evil is evil. Oh, that was the cartoons I grew up now. They're quite different.
Superman lives in a parallel universe, and there's a negative Superman. So there's, there's a whole lot of the thing children are getting, but when I was growing up, and that was the time, you know, little before me, George was growing up as well. And so that, you know, we were given cartoons, where things were clear things were black and white, good people wore white hats and bad people wore black hats, which is problematic for the Iranian mullahs. Right. I mean, they really fit the bill, don't they? You know,
I was actually just with Ayatollah hatami. in his pocket, he was at the UN. He's a
he has a PhD from Germany in German philosophy.
Right, I mean, you know, people assume he's kind of a, you know, some kind of medieval throwback, I mean, the man is, is really far more sophisticated than a lot of rulers that we've had in the West.
So, this pseudo speciation is what happens in the melodramatic universe. Now, what's interesting is we have a biological problem, because if you look at children at about seven months, a child after an intense bonding with the mother actually begins to recognize strangers, and often will be frightened of them. They'll sometimes actually look and cry, and it happens to good people. It's not always, you know, don't assume they're seeing something that that you're not although they might be don't assume they're not.
But this is what they do, they begin to recognize something that is foreign or alien. The family is the first in group that we have. The family is our in group, what's outside of families and out group. When you go to school, you also have in groups and out groups. Our society thrives on this idea as I was driving here, I was passing by these five Beta Kappa and you know, these sororities and fraternities around Berkeley, which is a classic in group out group phenomenon. When you when you join a fraternity, there's a hazing, you have to get, you know, really drunk. I mean, they they kill them, sometimes these four people, but really in hazing people died in that initiation, that
rite of passage.
But you bond. Do you know like George was in in the skull and bones club, and they have very intense bonding, they actually, you apparently have to go and dig up a dead person and spend a night in a coffin with a dead person. I don't know if those things are true, but people write about them like that. And it's very odd, but it's not. I don't think it should shock you, you know, if you've just seen, you know, the type of things that people are capable of doing. I mean,
Chris talked about necrophilia. You know, it's, I mean,
lions don't do that. You know, monkeys don't do that. Humans do that. Right. Really, it's, we're capable of just immense depravity. But these in groups and out groups, this is the essence of war.
Now, if you look at what what what is the foundation of war, where does it come from?
There's people that again, say no, people are men don't like war. Women don't like war. There's actually whole social theories that refute conflict theory that war is thrust upon people. I don't believe that. We have a society that relishes war. Patton said anybody that says Americans don't like a war as a liar. Americans love a good war.
I mean, that's General Patton. No, he liked war, obviously. I mean, it was a passion with him.
Really, very intelligent man. I actually read his his notes from World War Two. It's called our war. And on the very first entry, he just arrived at North Africa and he said, just finished the Quran. He ended the entry by saying just finished reading the Quran. A good book, very interesting. So I thought that was, I mean, you know, nowadays, you just wonder about the generals nowadays, but he was going to a Muslim country, he wanted to work out what they were about. So you read a foundational book, if you want to understand America, I don't know what you would read. You know, I don't, I think you'd probably have to see a Quentin Tarantino film.
Right? To read or go to, you know, big time wrestling.
Right? Go to one eyed wonder where all those people come from in those big giant auditoriums? Are they walking around out here? Are they in the grocery stores with us?
know, you just have to want I mean, if you if you want to inculcate peace, it's a very odd thing by teaching young children.
You know, having these two wrestling used to be a noble thing. You know, two people got to and they wrestled than they shook hands afterwards. They don't do that anymore. You know, they hit each other over the head with boards and, and smash their heads up again. It's supposed to be fake, but kids can't determine that and we had one for 13 year old boy jumped on this five year old kid and kill them shattered his spleen. And he'd got it from big time wrestling, you know, that's why they have these big don't do this at home. And the only reason I know about big time wrestling, it's very popular in Saudi Arabia. They actually really like big time wrestling, and they're convinced it's
real. I was once in a in a I was in a
you know, a hot place and and coffee house and they were watching and I said, that's not real. And they said, No, it's real. Look.
I gave up Yeah. How do you argue with him, there's Look, he threw him down. He fell down. It's real. So but promoting that type of a culture, do you because I really believe Abu Ghraib is a direct result. I call these guys Quentin Tarantino's children,
their kids that grew up on violence on pornography,
garbage in garbage out.
And I really was hoping for one, it was a bit of optimism on my part, but I was actually hoping that perhaps our country would just for a brief moment be able to recognize our shadow.
Just to see an aspect of our culture of who we are, because we are above Hooray. That is part of us. And to deny that to to say it has nothing to do with the United States of America is to deny our shadow and young believed that the more you denied the shadow, the greater it grew,
the greater it grew and less you were able he felt it was like a seesaw that your your, you know the, the beautiful aspect of the human soul had to be in balance with the shadow and and and if it
Wasn't, if you denied it, you elevated it. And what we do in wars, we project our shadow onto others. This is what we do all the despicable qualities that we hate about ourselves, we project them on the other.
Do you see the Arabs, you know, hate women, they're misogynistic. Look at some of the statistics in our own country.
pornography is the number one media industry in the United States of America.
What does that tell us about our culture and how we view women?
Because I mean, the the the Arabs that I know.
They love women,
And I don't say that you can interpret that as you like, but there's those types of Arabs as well.
every Arab learns from the time they're little children and agenda to academic mahat. Paradise is at the feet of the mother. That's what the prophet Muhammad taught his community.
Paradise is that at the feet of the mother,
I know Arabs that would never greet their mother without kissing her hand and kissing her forehead
would do anything for their mothers.
Really. So we can project all of that darkness onto the other end, it enables us to to demonize them,
to treat them despicably to carpet bomb them, to brutalize them and things that Chris talked about in his talk that he's seen. I mean, I saw some of it in the refugee camps in the shower,
during the Afghanistan war against the Russians,
just the faces of the people. I mean, that's that's what happens when you demonize the other, it's just very easy to degrade.
Cover them in feces, violate them with sticks.
I mean, this is this, this what people can do.
And what's interesting to me about war and religion, because it's a paradox, religion, of all the religions, Islam is most associated with militancy.
It's seen as a militant religion. And there's certainly a militant aspect about Islam. Muslims are people sought needs and said when he was at the, when he was in the Gulag in Siberia, and he wrote this. It's a very beautiful passage in one of his books, he said,
of all the people in the Gulag, the one people that refuse to be subjugated by the Russian guards were the ones
they would not submit to the humiliation. They always stood up and they would fight. And he said, and the unusual thing about this is that they actually gained the respect of the Russian guards, and the Russian guards had a type of fear of them. Chase nians they're the name for their capital, Grozny is fierce.
Tolstoy wrote a book about a chase Nian Mujahid called Haji Murat, about the nobility of the chasing and warrior.
Chase needs are a very free and independent people. And one of the things that Islam teaches is never to be a slave of anybody but God.
Never bow down to anybody.
Honor people respect people, but never allow a person to abuse you.
That's the essence of the Islamic teaching because you have been ennobled by God. According to the Quran, all of the children of Adam and Eve, have been ennobled by God. We have a human dignity that is essential to our nature, our character. And in honoring that dignity, we must honor others and in honoring that dignity, we do not allow ourselves to be dishonored. And the Prophet Muhammad said a believer does not humiliate him or herself. So that's something very essential. And that's why the Palestinians are resistant people.
It's difficult for them.
And even if they lash out in in heinous ways, if you don't understand what is the essence of that, then you're missing the point.
You're missing the point because while I condemn
the use of indiscriminate violence, I'm completely opposed to it and I believe that blowing up
Tel Aviv is indiscriminate violence. I don't I don't agree with it. I've always been against it. I've read arguments for it by certain scholars from the Middle East. I've never been convinced by them. But it happens.
And the question that I think we're confronted with Dostoyevsky's said it's very easy to hate those who do evil.
But it's very difficult to understand them.
And even and this is one of the great things about the poets and why we need the poets. out in September 1939, he was sitting in a dive in New York City when he heard about the invasion of Poland.
And he said that scholarship could explain
what was unleashed. He said, as what happened at lince.
One unleashed that imago, a psychopathic God. I in the public know what all schoolchildren learn those to whom evil is done, do evil in return.
And that's a lesson that we need to learn.
We need to learn that what we are seeing is a projection of ourselves. It's a projection of ourselves. And they also they, me,
we all need to see this on all sides, because as long as we pseudo speciate, as long as we deem the other as less than human, the Kafeel.
Right, the disbeliever, the infidel, justifying with that
abuse of that other than we failed to learn the essential truths of our tradition, whatever it might be, because at the root of war is injustice. It's greed, it's selfishness, and it's a total lack of concern for the suffering of others. And all of those things religions came to free us from
and that's absolute truth, whether it's Hinduism, whether it's Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, they came to expose to us the worst qualities, our shadow so that we might know ourselves better. And in two, we have greater self knowledge. And this is what we're confronted with.
Absolute imperative to have self knowledge, because that's what this is about. It's about learning about ourselves through the lens of the other. Imam Shafi, one of the great scholars of Islam was once asked, How did you get such excellent character? He said, I always listened to what my enemies said about me and I took it seriously.
Our enemies have something to teach us. In Latin, the word enemy comes from
not friend, somebody who's not a friend,
which, in the pre modern world, that's the way it was viewed the tribe and everybody else there's a there's a, a tribe in the Amazon called the Wari tribe, WRI and their word according to a linguist Steven Pinker, their word for dinner, or for food is not a Wari.
Which he said, was problematic if you were ever invited to have dinner with them
but that that is the pre modern world, the tribe, do you see the tribe? It's me versus them. The Arabs have a proverb, me and my brother against my cousin, me, my brother, my cousin, against my neighbor, and me, my brother, my cousin, and my neighbor against everyone else. I mean, that that's one view of the world. That's a view that our religions came to remove, tribalism, provincialism, partisanship.
nationalism is a disease. It's a disease. And I don't believe patriotism is a disease. Love of your country is not a negative thing. It's a good thing. People always say my country right or wrong, but they forget the actual quote of the admiral that made that he's a brilliant
I mean, extraordinary man. He was an early warrior in actually was in the war of Tripoli. The Catcher I think we have Decatur il
Illinois, Georgia. They're named after him Stephen Decatur, or decanter. I don't know how they say that. But in his famous toast, he actually said our country, may she always be right. May she always be right in her foreign affairs, but our country right or wrong, very different to my country right or wrong. When our country is in the wrong, we need to stand by the truth that is not tribalism. That is patriotism. Because that comes from love doesn't come from hate. It comes from love of your country. And that's why we're living in a time when dissent has become once again a dangerous word, a dangerous word. If you ask me, Does God love war? I would have to say, I don't believe God loves
war. War in the Quran is used four times the word it's a negative word in the Quran, how there are two times in which war is declared by God on people. When they
engage in usury, which is considered an economic injustice. It's prohibited in the Torah. It was prohibited in church canon law. And Aristotle said it was the most unnatural form of money or wealth acquisition, condemned by all the ancient philosophers, and much of what we're witnessing around this globe is directly due to in immense debt in these countries all around around the globe that are paying exorbitant usurious
returns to industrialized countries that have lent them money, designed read confessions of an Economic Hitman really read that book. It's an important book about what we do and where that resentment comes just trying to understand it at a deeper level. That's what we need to do. So, but God, according to the Quran, the Quranic narrative, there's a verse in the La Jolla, Hebrew, Martin, God does not love those who aggress.
And there are two types of war. There isn't a war of aggression, and there's a war of defense. And all of our religious traditions give people the right to defend themselves, whether it's Christianity, whether it's just law theory, St. Agustin St. Thomas Aquinas
believed that it was absolutely congruent with the teachings of Christianity, the right to self defense,
watching what they call the double effect,
which is very stringent criteria for when good can cause evil. So collateral damage, carpet bombing, all these things. I mean, bombing people from there, that's one of the things we have a mechanism in ourselves that protects us, from inflicting people with pain. It's called sympathy, compassion, pity. I mean, these are very powerful emotions that we acquire early on, usually given to us by our mothers.
And when you distance when you use weapons, where you drop bombs from 30,000 feet, there's no room for those inhibitors. There's no room for those constraints. So it becomes pushing a button, we don't see the results of what that button does. One of the things about the and why books like the uninvented are so important, and we honor kale, and people like her that are trying to bring these images to people. One of the reasons why they're so important is to see that true side of war, what it does to people, the effects it has on just the common people. One of the things that General William Westmoreland, who was back in the old days in Berkeley, he was called waste more land. He
was one of the Vietnam generals, but General Westmoreland, who I think is famous for saying we had to destroy the village to save it. But he said, Vietnam was the first uncensored war, and we don't censor war, it creates confusion in the public mind.
What type of confusion because that's very Orwellian. What what it creates in the public mind, is moral conscience and understanding that what we're doing is morally wrong, it's repugnant. And that is what we have to take it out. I really believe and and I think we should be inspired by the abolitionist movement, which began in the late 18th century. By 12 people in a small house in London, that house is still there. It's honored when they began that never did they believe in their wildest dreams that they would end
slavery in their lifetimes, but they saw it
By 1732, the British had outlawed by 1832, the British had outlawed the slave trade, it took some time to stop it. But they did it. And it was done by a handful of men and women committed to that, mostly working, in fact, really entirely working from the best of the Christian tradition,
the best of the Christian tradition. And that movement took off. It was a great movement in the 19th century in this country. And I really believe that it's people like that that need to emerge from among us that are really willing to recognize that we are facing a choice between consciousness and catastrophe.
If we don't wake up, we're on a perilous path to our own destruction. And we are the first generation as it's been said many times, that has in its hands, the capacity to destroy itself, our species.
War is still a major threat. People are suffering from it all around the world. nuclear proliferation is a major threat Pakistan and India.
disaster, really, it's a disaster failed states. We have a lot of work to do, I really hope that people will take that home with them. And
I hope we can have some more discussion and conversation. And I really, Chris Hedges I read his book, when it first came out was a force that gives us meaning, I really recommend to all of you that you read that book, it's an important book. Because in the absence of meaning, war is certainly one substitute. And our our country right now is suffering from a vacuum of meaning and purpose. consumerism just doesn't do the trick.
No matter how many trips to Walmart, you make, those products never do what they say they're supposed to do. They just don't.
It looks good in the store, and you get it home, and it's just
seems so different when I first saw it.
Before you know it, it's in some corner of the house. Right? And then it's in the garage sale. So consumerism doesn't do the trick. And if you replace the sacred,
it's always empty things that you try to fill that void with.
God bless all of you. Thank you very much.