Channel: Hamza Yusuf
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You know, in thinking about it, I decided I wanted a poet to talk about this one because poetry, arguably, there are people that believe that it was actually invented to woo women.
And there's a lot of
love poems. And everybody I think, who's ever really been in love will take their stab at poetry? Yeah, I mean, there's probably been a lot of doggerel written as a result of being in love, but everybody will, you know, even if it's Roses are red, violets are blue. I have to tell you, there's no one like you.
So that was off the top of the head. I'm a, I'm a poet. I didn't know it.
So anyway, you know, so Christopher, Marlowe come live with being and be my love, and we will all the pleasures prove.
So I wanted to talk with a poet about this subject. And then I thought, I really like Amir Suleiman. Because you're actually one of the few poets that I know. I know a lot of people that take their stab at poetry, but I actually consider you, a bonafide poet. And and I really, I don't say that about a lot of people. But
that's how I feel about you. So I thought we could talk about this thing. So to kick it off, let me read you something
from Dorothy Sayers, who I actually admire immensely, a lot of people know her for,
for her mystery novels, but I actually know her for her work on Dante and then for her essays, and, and her theology I've written, I've read
her books on like, creator chaos, which I actually really enjoyed. So she says,
that, you know, whenever she brings up the seven deadly sins, people say things like, Oh, what are the other six.
And so she says about the sin of the Romans called it Luxuria, which which is lust from we get luxury obviously. So she says about the sin called Luxuria, or lust, I shall therefore say only three things. First, that it is a sin.
And that it ought to be called plainly by its own name, and neither huddled away under the general generic term, like immorality, nor confused with love. Secondly, that up till now, and this, to me is such an interesting insight. Secondly, that up till now, the church in hunting down this sin has had the act of alliance of Caesar, in other words, the government, who has been concerned to maintain family solidarity, and the orderly devolution of property in the interests of the state. But now that contract and status is held to be the basis of society sees or need no longer rely on the family to maintain social solidarity. And now that so much property is held anonymously by
trusts and joint stock companies, the laws of inheritance lose a great deal of their importance. Consequently, Cesar is now much less interested than he was in sleeping arrangements of his citizens, and has in this matter cynically denounced his alliance with the church. And that just really floored me that insight. This is a warning against putting one's trust in any child of man, particularly in Caesar. If the church is to Kinte continue her campaign against lust, she must do so on her own, that is on sacramental grounds, and she will have to do it if not in defiance of Caesar, at least without his insistence and now it's in defiance of Caesar like now, I'm part of an amicus
brief now about this very issue. Where, you know, they're trying to take away nonprofit status for people that don't preach
free love and, you know, all these things out there. Now, here thirdly, this is our third point.
There are two main reasons for which people fall into the sin of Luxuria. In maybe through sheer exuberance of animal spirits,
in which case a sharp application of the curb may be all that is needed to bring the body into subjection and reminded of its proper place in the skin.
man's twofold nature or, and this commonly happens in periods of disillusionment, like our own, when philosophies are bankrupt, and life appears without hope. Men and women may turn to lust in sheer boredom and discontent, trying to find in at some stimulus, which is not provided by the drab discomfort of their mental and physical surroundings. When that is the case, stern rebukes and restrictions are worse than useless. It is, though one more to endeavor to cure anemia, by bleeding, it only reduces further and already impoverished vitality. The mournful and medical aspect of 20th century pornography and promiscuity strongly suggests that we have reached one of these periods of
spiritual depression, where people go to bed, because they have nothing better to do. So what do you what, what's opening insights? The part actually, that that she mentioned, thought about immediately, was just contrasting it to love. Like, I find lust to be like a counterfeit love, you know, it's like the difference between
you know, fine wine and like grape soda, you know, it's like this counterfeit,
And not, I mean, obviously, we're not talking about actual wine here, but like, yeah, we choose the grape soda.
the point that I'm making, you know, like, read flavored Kool Aid, as opposed to, you know, write, you know, fruit juice. But it's very interesting because both of them produce, or both of them,
result resulting in a type of pain, a type of discomfort when the lovers write their poetry, even the lovers of God, it's a, mostly it's poetry of pain, often, you know, it's about a suffering a longing, you know.
And likewise, a loss also ends or lends itself to this insatiable
desire, that only increases the chasm that is trying to be filled by it. And so, it's, it's, it reminds me of something like the difference between h2o and h2o two, you know, one is water, and one is like hydrogen peroxide, where, and you would think it's a subtle difference, it's only one more oxygen, it's, but that chemical change results in a radically different experience a radically different
material. And, and so, to the untrained eye, the lover
and lustful, may appear to be traveling on the same path. But, but in truth, it's not. It's a subtle, but chemical change that results in it being an actually fundamentally different thing, a different experience. And one of the primary experiences, of course, you know, and our tradition is the end result of the affair of what it does in the material world and one's material life, and how it results in one's afterlife. And then also in one's material life, and their, you know, spiritual life, the the end result of of that, but as I start to reflect on outside, then I really seem to share I can understand how someone can mixed, not be able to make a distinction between the two, but
those who've tasted even something of it, they find it different and like you said, even if it's just a man falls in love with a woman, he's desired other women before he suffered his whole life, you know, from puberty on desiring this one, that one, this one that one, but then he struck with an eating when he looked at people who were in love, he might say
the he might think that he has experienced something like that person is experiencing, but that person is handling it poorly. Like yeah, I've I've also designed one before but yeah, you know, you can't handle it, you're letting you know, you're letting this overcome you. Until that one tastes something from to love. And they they you know, experiment Lily, you know tried to hand out poetry and and they want to write songs and write poetry. They find themselves wanting to do things, do things and and be different. But it's still tied to a to a to pain, you know, it's still tied to
it's still tied to a longing. It's still tied to a can be until someone can continue to ascend like
It's still tied to a fear.
Like when, when I had my first child, my daughter,
and the first day that we brought her home, and I'm looking at her, and in the crib, I'm like, this is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. And I feel like a part of my heart opened, it was as if there was a, like a vacant part of my heart. It's like the line which in the wardrobe, like there was a door that was always there. But then I opened it is his whole world in there. Right? And, but it was also tied to this dear, like, look at this little delicate, weak,
incapable of anything. She's relying on me for everything besides breathing and blinking. And the fear of losing her
was tied almost inextricably with my this profound love. So it's a
it's a it's a it's a slippery it's a it's a very delicate nuance between the two. Well, and and I'm in arguably, that element that moves into love often begins with some kind of physical desire physical attraction, the prophets. I said him, once a man said that he was going to marry somebody who said, Have you seen her yet? You know that, because he said that there should be some attraction. That's important. Although Imamura Rosati has an amazing story. In his, when he talks about custom Kasota scheffau attain breaking the two desires, he mentions a man who was engaged to a woman that he'd never seen, because often marriages, as you know, were arranged then, and the woman
get she got smallpox and ended up really ruining her face. So the family was distraught. Well, the man got news of this. And because he was such a profoundly spiritual man, he actually found somebody who had conjunctivitis and infected his eyes. And then he he pretended to be blind.
And he mentioned that and lived with this woman, making her think that he was blind.
So that she wouldn't feel bad about how she looked because women women were, you know, one of the things that strikes me about growing old with somebody
is that they get more beautiful. If you're in love with them, like women, women, they think you're you're making it up when you say you're beautiful. Now I'm old, and I'm wrinkly. And I'm this and I'm that. But when the love is there, they really they become it's like your mother, you look at your mother say she can look like an old haggard woman. But to us she's beautiful, because she's your mother. And that's what love does. You know, they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I mean, that's not totally true, because there are esthetic truths out there. Like this should be beautiful to most people, that they have a healthiest that makes sense. But there really is a lot of
truth that beauty is skin deep in that way that that,
you know, the external is something that is not as important as people think, you know, I was thinking also the other thing I was thinking about what you said about loneliness, and lust, and just some poetry here. There's a great
song about a one night stand that Dylan wrote. And he taught, he says, you know, they walked along together. In the park as evening sky drew dark, she looked at him, and he felt a spark tingle to his bones. It was then he felt alone and wished that he'd gone straight.
Right? Yeah. And then he talks about that one nightstand, they go to a hotel, and then he wakes up the room was bare. He didn't see her anywhere. He told himself he didn't care. Right.
Yeah. And then And then he says that it was then he felt alone. Yeah, right. You know, unless you find you know, even people without necessarily a spiritually or traditionally based shame you no matter where like, Oh, I've just committed a sin. I engaged with, you know, someone who's not permissible for me, even without that,
you know, that, you know, among I can speak to among men, that it's very common that this type of
or even if the woman remains that becomes an instant,
like a disgust at Instant Regret instant
just after the moment of absolute, you know, enthralled, complete, totally immersive pleasure, as if, you know, she's the only thing in the whole world. And then immediately after is like, yeah, I don't I don't want to even look at you. And this is I think another one of the things that is a distinctions between love and lust, like you were mentioning, where you know, where your mother as she's growing older, she's only getting more beautiful, your wife as she grows older,
that, that the beauty
appreciates, you know, I actually, you know, to that to that point.
One of the things that often since I was young, I would I would reflect on was that Allah describing himself as as thankful as I should call it, you know, and I would think, you know, how was the Lord you know, thankful like, what could it who would Allah thank for what you know,
I'm it then I was reflecting on the, the idea that
we are thankful to Allah for what he's given to us, but Allah is
an appreciator. You know, which also understanding the financial terminology. And as he mentions in his book that, you know, if you are thankful, I will give you more, I will appreciate you like, when you're thanking you will, I will appreciate you and I will increase you, and I'll raise you. And so love
results in or has in it, a sense of thankfulness, that less doesn't, I would imagine, or, and so then you find this woman, appreciating as you're loving her, as your point your love into her, whatever law is invested in you, you're pouring into her as far as love, that she will continue to appreciate, and that the love that you have, that you're thankful to Allah and Allah will appreciate both of you. And in your loving, you know, and you seeing each other, loving each other, hearing from each other, and spending time with each other and knowing each other
ends last, like I mentioned, even among non spiritual people whatsoever, you know, it's a common thing to say that, once you're, you know, once you've, you know, exhausted, whatever you want it from it, it loses all it depreciates very suddenly, deeply as, as Dylan was mentioning. There's a depreciation in the actual events of, of lusting, as in loving, there's an appreciation of, of the act of loving, you know, well, also that what you said about the, that immediate regret, and I think probably the most extraordinary thing in the English language that's ever been written about lust is it's the 120/9 sonnet by Shakespeare, where he says, the expensive spirit and a waste of shame, is
lust in action.
is less than action until action, lust, you know, until it's actually done. It's lust is perjured, murderers, bloody full of blame, Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust, enjoyed no sooner but despise it straight. Like, yeah, past reason hunted, and no sooner had pass reason hated, as a swallow bait.
On purpose late to make the taker mad, mad in pursuit, and in having an in possession. So had having an inquest to have extreme a bliss and proof and proved a very Whoa.
Before a dream, a joy proposed behind a dream. And then he says, all this the world well knows, yet none knows well to shun the heaven, that leads men to this hell. It just proves that this is known. I mean, he says it in the verse that this is common knowledge everyone knows that you don't have to have you haven't, don't have to develop any, you know, subtle senses of the spiritual reality of things or anything layman, you know, everyone knows this experience yet, like you said, very few, no, are willing or have accomplished you the to to find themselves to avoid that beat as he calls it, you know, to not get hooked on the beat of lust.
You know, part of the Islamic tradition was to protect people man from their own worst tendency and so if you look for instance, when it says fundamental meaning a whole domain of Sati him where photo photo John tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to guard their genitals so that the eye is a direct
influence on the genitals you know that the man is going to be stimulated by what he sees
that he has curler home that's more pure for them it'll maintain their purity and then in the law of it'll be myosin our own Allah is aware of what they're doing like just know that he you know that he's aware that but then it says we'll pull him out mean it verboten I mean upset he now we are following a photo Johanna. So it tells the women to do the same thing but then it says, Well, I have Dina Xena Tahuna Illa, Mahara minha and tell them not to expose their adornment, their ornaments. He doesn't say that with the man.
It says that with the women. And then it says, well, you're gonna be comedy Hina Allah juvie. Hina and let them cover their cleavage.
I mean, it literally says the cleavage, you know, the split the jaiib Let them cover their cleavage. What are you Dina Xena to Hoonah and let them not twice, it's reiterated that they're not expose their ornaments. What this verse is telling us and what a lot of men are saying is help us help ourselves. We are weak.
Who they are in town over Eva, man was created a week. There's apparently in the Christian community, there's this movement called the first pew boys. And these are the young men that go to the church and sit in the first row. So they're not distracted by the women in the church, because of the way they dress now. So I what do you think about that? You know, it's a it's interesting, because, you know, in, in, especially like, in the arts and in the communities that are mixing. There is like what you're saying about the
equality argument. It's very strange, because the things that women have complained about, about men
for you know, God knows how long they have as a sense of empowerment, taking on those attributes. So um, you know, Phil be you know, there's encouraged us to like, one night stands and compartmentalizing, compartmentalizing
sex and emotionality and, and love, you know, and to, which is very strange, because the standard
is male behavior.
But they're seeking to
I think support standard, you know, to be like men, particularly the worst things about men the things that they've described as being
painful or ignoble, or shameful or
abusive, even. And I have, you know, four daughters, and so they're in school, two of them are in college. And so they're in a mix of these, you know, discourses, she even talks about conversations in, in class, about sex or, you know, raise your hand who here is a virgin or who believes in accidents or things like accidents, or, but this is the odd thing, the odd thing is,
if a woman is doing it, and this is something very
even with Muslim women, and I think it might just be a matter of language, or framing, but
the idea is, if you're doing it for yourself, then it's empowering. If you're doing it because of God or because of religion, or because of the Prophet Muhammad Salah Salem, then you're oppressed. So just attributing the intention of why you're doing the thing to Allah or to an article obedience makes it
problematic. However, if you say I'm doing this for myself, meaning this is what my naps has informed me to do. And you do it because you're not informed you your ego self informed you then it's then it's raised as a noble action, strong empowering, so on. But if it's saying I'm doing this and as an act of submission,
maybe I want to dress like this or this or this, but I'm, I have to just like this because I've been commanded to just like this. This has very
much fallen out of favor. So even sometimes when and again, these are conversations very real conversations I have with my daughters. And so I'm not just kind of projecting out to just arbitrary,
faceless, nameless people in society, but of the need that they sometimes feel to say,
I'm doing this for because of my, because I'm deciding to do it, you know, it's my body, instead of saying, No, this is not my body, this body belongs to the One who created it. And the one who created it told me to engage my body like this, this is to do these things, and not to do these things. That's the reason I'm doing it. And that reason, in and of itself has fallen out of favor. I agree with you, I think it's, you know, we're living in such a anti religious time, like, just, especially, you know, spirituality is okay, like you can be, quote, unquote, spiritual, whatever that means. But the idea that you actually have a religious tradition, and that there's commandments
that you're actually following and believe in the idea that, for instance, in the Quran, it clearly states that the reason that the women are told to draw their,
their garments around them is, you know, and to cover their heads. It's in order that they're not accosted.
And and the reason for that I once heard, there was a comedian, who's, who was talking about how horrible the women in Pakistan who wore these, what he called beehive suits. And my Afghani friends testified to the fact that,
that it's, it's actually a horrible thing. But that was to protect the women because there's a lot of beastial men in that area. And they kind of,
they do have a, you know, the Arabic word for woman is hormone, which means sanctified or protected or inviolable, I mean, literally inviolable, it's the same word for the HUD on same route for, you know, the sanctuary. It's like you don't touch that. And so what most women in our culture have had some negative experiences of being sexually accosted, pinched, groped, different things by men. And and part of the problem, I think, one is that men are no longer raised with chivalry. I mean, one of the things that I because I have, unlike you, I have five boys.
And one of the things that I really tried to instill in them is to honor women.
And I, on more than one occasion, I told them, never degrade a woman. But never allow a woman to let you degrade her.
You know, it goes both ways. Like, there's going to be unfortunate in our culture when I was young, I'm, I think I'm older than you. But when I was young
women did not pursue men. You know, men pursued women. When I when I was growing up, that's not the case anymore. Because of this, quote, unquote, equality, it's what my father said, why would they want to be equal to men that's setting the bar way too low. It's almost presented as if, and this book was both men and women, but it's because of traditionally how women engaged with lust. And I think that's why we're mentioning, you know, them in particular right now. But it's, um, it is seen as courageous, like, You're brave, you know, for being a lustful or surrendering to. Your lust is, is is noble and courageous and brave, and you're not having any shame and that you've totally
liberated yourself from the ability, not just that, this act of shame for that same for you don't have in your heart, the ability to be
to have feel shame about anything whatsoever. That that is like a, like the chief McCombe that's like the high level to ascend to to get to a level of shamelessness. When traditionally, you know, in our tradition, and many other traditions, that yeah, that is considered the lowest state if you don't have any shame, you know, then you're, you're below animals, you know, you don't you don't, you don't get a chance to, to have any of the honor or the dignity of being the son of Adam, my daughter of Adam, that what you removed from any of the benefit from that reality. It's just bizarre and it's, you know, every appetite for our in our tradition.
And this, the self is a bottomless pit, like it just can keep going down and down and down lower and lower. I mean, the Mara dead now as far as self eating, they will be reduced to the lowest of the low through their appetites. The commentary of that is we raised them up to the highest of the highest with their intellect and their soul. And then they're lower down to the lowest of the lowest through their appetites and their desires. Yeah, I think I think what you said was key, you know, about him in the way that you're engaging your sons, you know, and what I've realized in the conversation around masculinity, femininity, lust, sex and the like, is that, um, some of the things
that are considered, you know, the terminology toxic, toxic masculinity, which I'm not a fan of that term.
One of the main reasons I'm not a fan of that term is because actual true masculinity will
solve a lot of these problems. So like, you know, the, the situation of a man, you know, trying to talk to a woman on the street or harassing a woman on the street, she rebuffs him, he, you know, becomes violent or, you know, things like that for, for for for masculine men, we will look at that as shameful. Like, how are you what, why can't you receive this
unfavorable response to your you are approaching this woman with like, dignity and masculinity and like that, you know, so we would say that that person is, has a deficiency in masculinity, not not hyper masculine, not too much masculinity, but rather, it's a deficiency where you would want to let yourself get that emotionally invested in this stranger's opinion that we would say that you're like a boy, you haven't yet come into your full masculinity yet because you this woman saying, No, I'd rather not talk to you or no. So the training in masculinity and chivalry, although, like you said, in many ways has become unpopular. I think that we have to remain consistent in this because
although for some people, it may appear that masculinity in and of itself is problematic or masculinity, in and of itself, it's toxic, or masking in and of itself is dangerous to them. But in truth, it is masculinity. For example, if I were to see something like that, my, my masculinity would force me to intervene. Like, I saw that interaction happen. And it's only my masculinity and my chivalry that would cause me not knowing the man and not knowing the woman to put myself in potentially harm's way, potentially a life and death, right encounter,
to stop that, but that's my masculinity informing me to do such as I think one of the things that a lot of women like we live in a civil society and so women, I don't think a lot of women any here in our culture, I mean, they're very aware of rape and, and sexual assault, and these things all happen, but it still happens when in the context of overall civil society. But when societies break down, the first victims are women and children. Like right now as we're speaking that these poor Tigray women in Ethiopia, that there's mass rape going on, and they they wish for chivalrous men that would come and defend them. The same happened with these poor women in Iraq when the ISIS took
over and took all these people as quote unquote, concubines. And, you know, these Yazidi girls, I mean, just horrific things, Bosnia, there was mass rape. You know, this is an ancient thing. They estimate that German there were 2 million German women that were raped by Russian American and British soldiers after World War Two. It's a very common thing that happens in In fact, I read a book by
General Patton called my war.
And it was he never finished it because he died. But there were his memoirs, and I think he was planning on writing a book, but the very first it opens by him, he's arriving in Morocco. And he, he says, Just finished the Koran, a good book, exclamation mark. And, and, and then he talks about meeting with the Sultan, Mohammed, the fifth, and he tells him we have a highly disciplined army but there's always bad apples. And if you hear of any accosting of Moroccan women by our men, it must be brought to my attention because I will
I will ensure that they are punished to the utmost of the law. So that's a problem even with discipline armies in the American army is actually very disciplined. But it still happens. Iraqi women were raped, Afghan women were raped, it happens. And so if men aren't taught to really respect women, one of my favorite hobbies is the man who came to the Prophet and said, I want to become Muslim. But I just love fornication.
And the Prophet sallallahu sallam said to him, do you have a mother? And he said, Yes. He said, Do you have an aunt? He said, Yes. He said, Do you have a sister? He said, Yes. He said, Don't you know that those women that you're sleeping with, there's somebody's mother, there's somebody's sister, there's somebody aren't. And then he prayed for him. And the man said, I went in loving
fornication, and I went out, and it was the most odious thing to me know, this, this state of, you know, as we get in our tradition, you know, a man's desire for women is part and parcel of masculine and it's one of the signs of masculinity. And also, it's one of the signs of masculinity, to be able to read it to be able to, so it's not to write, so it's not so much to kill, it knows it to let it roam free. And this is why you know, even in our conversations about lust, and men and women,
the reason and maybe just because I am a man, the reason I'm thinking this way is that I'm always the most effective way for me to deal with it is always put the onus on myself. So when I'm thinking about as a man, and it definitely in dealing with other men, younger men and men that are getting your case, you know, your own sons, as you mentioned, is that what this age is gonna require of them, this age that we're living in, it's gonna require them, it's a very high level of masculinity, Mohammed masculinity, sallAllahu, wasallam, where, yes, you love women, it says, and there's no shyness or shaming, not the men
raising themselves in the louder the desire and allow for women to flourish, while running it in that balance. And that tension is where you find the beauty and the power, and true chivalry. And the and I believe in my, it's my earnest belief that if men do that, in maths, then that will reestablish the balance of what we are missing. Now, like you said, you know, I believe he's running a number on it, for sure. And so it's not, it's not an easy task at all. But if men themselves would hold themselves to a higher standard in their engagement with women, then the the issue with the woman would not be so severe, as you mentioned, that you said, Don't degrade a woman and don't allow
a woman to a woman to allow you to degrade her. So even if women have left off, shame, our culture in general is left off shame, or left off
sanctity and chastity.
That if we instill in our men too, in our boys to correct that balance, is the only path I can see reasonably, that will,
that will rein in and allow for the balance to settle on a more same place, you know, because, like you said, the discourses of getting women to do this, so that, you know, the discourses are, they're not fruitful. I think that's what Dorothy Sayers was getting at, that when a society is in the grip of this deadly sin. That the least been the least beneficial thing is to berate them about it, like you have to address the root cause, which is a spiritual emptiness.
And that gets back to, you know, to Dylan's one night stand where he felt an emptiness inside to which he just could not relate that that emptiness after the, you know, the attempt to to assuage that spiritual hunger, through an act that even at the physical level is extremely powerful. The Greeks really understood this Dionysius you
They understood the relationship between sex and violence.
Because, you know, they had the Apollonian and the Dionysian. I mean the great play on that as the Buckeye and Dionysius is the god of it's the wild God. And you know, Nietzsche says saw that, that that these two impulses are in human beings the Apollonian for law and order, like Apollo was this God of order. And then Dionysius that wild frenzied, you know, the rave parties, those are back anally as he was called Bacchus in the Roman so they go back and Allia drugs, sex, rock and roll, that's all Dionysian. And once that's unleashed in a society, it's a very bad sign. And, and so for instance, there's a there's a book that was written in 1936, by this professor from I think it was
at Cambridge, Unwin un, wi N, and it's called Sex and Culture. And he studied at six cultures, at 80 of them were more primitive societies, six of them were highly developed civilizations, he found that when ever chastity was removed from a society, within three generations, it was destroyed. And he couldn't find and he was not a Christian. He was a secular rationalist. He actually states it very clearly. But he does admit that maybe religions understood something. The other thing he points out is that when sex is unleashed on a culture, this Dionysian impulse, that what happens is the creativity of the culture is lost. And so he shows how it's only cultures that literally were were
cultures where sex was delayed until marriage, that produced great literature, great philosophy, great art, he could not find it anywhere in cultures that had open sexual relations. And and Huxley said, this is an extremely important book that should be taken very seriously. We're moving into the third generation, because all of this in America was unleashed in the 1960s. And so we're moving into that, and you can see, you just wonder how long our culture can survive.
And what we're doing to these young people, which, to me is, is horrifically tragic. It's really interesting what you said about art and creativity, because, you know, and poets talk about, you know, poets in the poetry talk about this, and athletes and all kinds of different people talk about this, but when I was mentioning that tension, of maintaining desire, but not just giving into it, just willy nilly giving into it in a disciplined manner, is that tension creates creativity, you know, that, that it creates inspiration. And so
when one is just totally free falling into their desires, like you said, and as we're, as we're mentioning, so many people have mentioned, and Leinster is emptiness and it's just very uninspired, like you said, just going to sleep because there's nothing better to do. You know, like it drains one of its of, you know, if we talk about the metaphysical reality, and you know, the Chinese talk about this a lot this metaphysical reality, of sex and ejaculation and semen and men and so on. Right, and Eric, you right, and Miss shakes. Yeah, go ahead, maintaining this tension is where you can get power.
And so not only physically with Vitality, but even we've, I found this just intuitively with, with even with art, and I remember even Miles Davis mentioning this before, like, if he was to go to going to go to a performance, he didn't like to engage in sexual intercourse before the performance only after because he wanted that virile energy to still be causing that tension still to be there, and it would light up his mind and light up his heart and inspire his work. And he found that when he exhausted himself sexually before that his creativity would fall flat or be one dimension or be somehow more hollow. So then I never thought of it across like a whole culture that is exhausting
themselves sexually at every turn, how that affects artistic output of that culture. That's that's what he he he I think he proves it in the book. It's quite a tone.
to read, but it's it's fascinating.
Muhammad Ali was asked by Johnny Carson,
you know, did he abstain and he said he had wolves around like he had all these dogs around the camp. And he didn't let women near when he was training, he say that women near the Spartans did the same thing. And what you said about Jane, you know, in the in the Chinese tradition, that dissipating Jing too much of it will in venerate a person to where they're literally completely wasted. And, and a lot, you can see this in the faces of rockstars.
You know, by the time they're 50, they look like they're 80, because they've just spent their life force. And, and, you know, we're, we're told everything in moderation. And I think that's where Islam is such a beautiful
corrective for this problem, because it really gives us practical real solutions to this problem, like just lowering the gaze. One of the things about, we haven't talked about it, but I do before we end I want to just pornography in our culture is so overwhelming that all these poor young people, I mean, I personally have to say, I'm really grateful that this type of environment did not exist when I was a teenager or in high school, because I don't know, we didn't have access to those type things, but young men that are just coming into that experience of sexual awakening, the temptations are so immense on these poor young people, their desire, you know, correct is our meaning.
Chemically hormonal II, what's happening, and their desire for women desire to see women desire to, like you said, that connection that you mentioned, from the Versa the connection between the eyes and genitalia. And so that desire, obviously, it's, it's natural, but what's not natural, not even speaking from a religious point of view, but just in a, you know,
like anthropological point of view, where someone could, before they get out of bed in the morning, Could see hundreds of making money. Like chemically, the brain is not developed to engage that much stimuli. And that variety in a day. I mean, you couldn't count how many even naked women or actual sexual acts that you witnessed, I actually participated in a conference at Princeton, and I delivered a paper on lust. And, but there was one of the papers that was delivered. That just floored me it was on neuroplasticity, and the effects that pornography has on the rewiring of the brain. And
he basically said that, it will completely alter a person's experience of reality. And one of the things that Pamela Paul noted in her book, pornified, and I did, I actually did a program with her called the rape of the heart on pornography and its effects. And, you know, I worked 100 I worked with a Catholic, Robby George to get pornography out of some of the hotels. So they actually we got it removed from through a letter writing campaign.
But I just the thing about the the pornography, is that people will end up literally, this, the threshold of stimulation gets higher and higher. And so a lot of man after several years of porn addiction, they go into pedophilia. So these are actually socially harmful
mechanisms in our society, that our our government should be addressing, and they're not. These are dangerous things. And and I think a lot of what we're seeing out here, a lot of the violence towards women, you know, I read Chris Hedges second chapter on his book on the empire of illusion, about pornography, which just I am I almost vomited reading it. And in some ways, I wish I never read it. One of the one of the interesting things you know, there's these things called the daughters of lust, which are what lust engenders in people that are in the grip of last, one of the daughters of lust is hatred of God.
Like, if, if you're in that world, you begin to hate things sacred. And then you also go into a despair of the afterlife, just like there's no you just don't believe that there's any meaning to anything. So it's it's a real dark
hole that these people go into
You know, one thing that I wanted to cover because I think is a really important thing that the prophets I assume there's something in in the New Testament Matthew where Jesus says you you've heard it of the men of old that thou shalt not commit adultery, but I say to you, if you look at a woman lustfully you've already committed adultery in your heart. And then he actually advises like plucking out the I could because he said, It's better to go into heaven Mame, then, you know, to be cast into hell because of the sinfulness. I mean, it's a very extreme statement and whether he said it or not, I may not you know, Allah on them, but it's, it's consistent with the Prophets Hadith,
where he said cootie, Bonnie Binney, Adam Nasugbu, Mina, Xena, that every child of Adam will have a certain amount of Xena which is essentially fornication written for him. And then he said mood that he kinetic Allameh holla he will have his portion and then he said, Elian any z now whom another the eyes the fornication of the eyes is to look on on things that are haram like pornography and, and and these type things. And then he said what are the Nan? Xena Houma is the man is to listen to, to lewd and lascivious talk
or sexting and things like that. And then he said, and then the, the YED, Xena Ha, at a botch it's groping. And then he said, We're originally Xena, or hota the fornication of the the foot is to go to a place where where those things are going to happen. And then he said that the tongue it's speech. But then he said, Well, elbow Yahuwah away at Amana, the heart lusts and desires. When far do you suggest depo Oh, you can dribble. But the genitals will confirm it or negate it. And so that's the process. If you look at this, and this is what's happening in our culture that the assault the I mean, if you look at the lewd and lascivious lyrics, I mean people some of the things
these kids are listening to.
I mean, just, it's just beyond belief. Yeah, that like you said, I mean, just the shamelessness and the,
you know, something about our society and like even social media, even when it's not dealing with things that are explicitly sexual or law school, there is a there is a row on Ambrosian of public space and private space. Corella T is one of the daughters of lust also, which is a kind of crudeness where there's you know and lewd speech the prophets Eliza them hated lewd speech, he said, and movement or lamb, Yukon and mono for hash Inomata fascia at the moment is not obscene, nor does does he use foul language.
And this, you know, this, this, again, is a thing of being quote unquote, transparent, and being real and raw, and courageous and truthful, it's presented like this, like, I have eroded the barrier between my public self and my private self, which is this almost twisted version of Sid, you know, of a class of like, it's like this, I'm the same person in public and private, the thing that I would
have, in my small way, woman to engage and this is why my poetry is engaging, loving, you know, and talking about loving, and virtue of loving, and the challenge of loving and occurs as required to love and surrender that's required in love, and re introducing in the context of discourse, you know, very crude discourse, to present something, you know, beautiful, to present something in the sea of all of that like, to cause a person to just even for a few minutes, are considered a great victory for a few minutes, you know, so really contemplates the reality of love and its choose spiritual, you know, and romantic and, you know, civic reality, you know,
and just to give a recess, from what we're talking about this hopelessness in this emptiness in this bottomless chasm of desires that you it's like drinking salt water, it's like we have we have a saying of the
prophesy said, I'm Isa, Jesus in the Arabic tradition said that love of this world is like drinking salt water. The more you drink the thirstier, you get interesting, the converse of that is, you know, sacred knowledge is also like this in a way, you know, the more you get, the thirsty you are, you know what I mean, and the more you feel deficient, you feel, it's very strange. And I believe in this in love as well, the more my love increases for a lot as Prophet sallallahu wasallam
it's like, if I was swimming across an ocean, I don't know other side, I was gonna accomplish complete love for a lot of profits.
As I swim, the seed grows. So at one point, I may think I'm halfway there. But as I increase in love, I realize I'm a quarter way there. And as increase in love, I'm an eighth with bear as I increase the number 16. So it's like, the more I'm loving, and the more my heart has the capacity for love. The more needy I am, the more wrecked I am, the more distracted I am meaning into distracted by the affair of love to the point and you know, the poet's talk about this until a kind of bewilderment and insanity takes over a person you know, because the you can't stop. Because it's an interesting idea, because it seems as if, you know, and then our spiritual and religious
tradition, like once you love a lawn, its profit. Everything becomes easy.
That's not true.
Why do you love a lawn its profits that Allahu Allah Salome true. You can't ever come near enough to them. You know, it's like, when a man loves a woman say they're in two different cities, they're talking on the phone, I love you so much I can't wait to were in the same city. They're in the same city. But that doesn't satisfy them. I want to, you know, I want to see you let's let's go to the restaurant wherever they go to the same place, but they still desire for nearness, until they come and they touch each other and then, but the layers between them evaporate. A till there is literally no space between the one and the other. One is entered upon the other, they become one flesh, they
become one flesh, you know, as Shakespeare said, this beast, the beast with two backs.
But that when your lovely Alon is Prophet, sallAllahu alayhi salam, likewise, you want closer quote, but you can do that infinitely, you'll never so it's this, this desire, in this love in this need. In this certain, it's a different brand of emptiness that you're having no, but it's like a level of incompleteness that you're that you're wanting to draw in Allah and His Prophet sallallahu wasallam into yourself in hopes that you will be complete. And then even the idea of golden palaces and rivers of milk and honey, you know, like, I want intimacy, I want Allah, I want God. And that is the only thing that's going to quench my desire, even Gela itself won't finish me I need to gaze upon
this face, I need to engage this reality, I need to dissolve myself, to annihilate myself in this life. And that is the that becomes the only
need until the servant is just the lover is just, it's no longer it is a seeking a type of you know, the my last book of poetry was called Love, Gnosis and other suicide attempts about this idea is that it is a desire to be extinguished. It is a desire to vanish this desire to no longer be because you know, they call that the Thanatos impulse with which which is its annihilation. Yeah. Yeah, the ego, the annihilation of the ego. And
it's, it's something that our mystical tradition, you know, has always focused on.
Although we retain the beauty of our of Abrahamic traditions for me, is there's a retention of personhood, you know, that we, that we go into the next world as so and so the son of our mother, and we're called by our names, there's not, there's not a kind of,
you know, this atma that you just disappear into.
But it's a purified self that's removed from all the taints of the world. And
it's, you know, it's the opposite. It's its desire, not lust, and desire is a beautiful word, because in English, it comes from a word, a Latin word, which means of the heavens. So God has put in this intense desire in our hearts, because we want you know,
Augustine said, our hearts were created for God and they will not rest except in God. And that's why all this pursuit of lust and all these things,
it'll never satisfy the human heart. It just won't end. And in fact, Imam, you know, I translated the border. I'm more of a translator of poetry than a poet, but I've I translated the border and one of the things he says, In El Hawa, you know, like, that the Hawa, if you allow it, to take over, he says, Use me Oh, you also mean, it either kills or scandalizes. You know, it'll either kill you or or or scandalize you,
you know, and, and that's, that's what's happening. But we, you know, I mean, I just feel I'll let you conclude this, but I feel that, that our job our role, right now, as, as believers, and allying with other believers,
is to be what what the Quran in surah HOOD calls Oulu Baqia these are the remnant people, the people that sustained the virtues of a civilization when it was on its ascendancy, when it's on its way down. They hold on to, you know, they conserve the best of the past. And, and, and chastity is a virtue, it's a virtue for men, and it's a virtue for women and honoring women. You know, chivalry is a virtue, modal fatawa these are virtues that we have to hold on to and inculcate into our young people. And, you know, there's an interesting in 1939, when, when Hitler invaded Poland out and the great poet who didn't, he wrote a poem called September 1939. And, you know, when I called my father
on the day of 911, all he said to me, you know, my father was a professor of poetry for a period. Yeah, and a great Shakespearean scholar. But he, he said to me, read out in September 1939, it's all in there. That's all he said to me, and he hung up.
But one of the things that he says in there is from the conservative dark into the ethical life, the dense commuters come
repeating their morning vow, I will be true to my wife, I will be true to the wife, I'll concentrate more on my work, you know, that that was 1939 were, that's something that men have to do, I will be true to the wife that that is a vow that that men have to take. And but he ends that poem, by talking about our world, defenses under the night, our world in stupor lies, yet dotted everywhere ironic Points of Light, flash out wherever the just exchange their messages, may I compose like them, of arrows, desire, and of dust, beleaguered by the same negation and despair, showing affirming flame. And so I think that's our job is to, to not allow the negation despair to,
to take hold of us and just light that candle in the midst of a of a dark night. And the beauty of a candle in a very dark room, is it it gives off a brilliant light, that the darker it is, the brighter that candle shines.
The thing that the candle does is the candle shows up the darkness, as something that never really existed. It's preservation good, it doesn't exist, it's the absence exactly doesn't shatter the darkness, or burn the darkness up or tear to darkness. And it just exposes that as something that was never even there. It doesn't exist, the truth is common falsehood has vanished, the falsified natures of vanishing thing, you know, how I want to tell mentioned, you know, one of the things I think that falling into love as opposed to love is because of the the investment that is required in love, the vulnerability that's required, right, you know, and even with the affair of pornography,
even outside the religious context for a man to like work up the courage to go and like talk to a girl and try to be interesting and try to be nice to her and like all of these steps that you have to go through in order to actually accomplish actual intimacy with her. That the danger the emotional danger of being rejected or humiliated or whatever cut by just being able to go to the computer or go to your phone or whatever. But
But that loving requires a courage it requires a breaking and it's in its nature that the heart in order to open you know, I said another poem like a heart, the heart does not have well oiled hinges, you know, it has to be broken to be open and the opening of the heart that says, an open heart is a euphemism for a broken heart,
that the heart only breaks open. It's the only way that it opens allow like, and so be willing to engage that breaking is like what I said about when I first saw my daughter, that when the heart breaks, you can see inside of it, you see all this stuff that you didn't even know what's there. It's such a wonderful world. It's like that line, which in the wardrobe, like you opened up is part of your heart. And this is his whole world. And it can be scary and it can feel dangerous so you can understand why we use the word falling in love that it is this disorientation and this strangeness, you know, but there's no way to close what I've laid naked. There's no way to hide the burning sun.
Amelie unconscious, barely existing. Love is pressing out of living out of dying. There's no use of resisting who would want to heartbroken. But now the mind is be split open. I wonder who would want the heart closed? Can you drink from the coconut without striking it? Can you smell the aloeswood without writing it? There's so much sweetness and violence, so much beauty and breaking to you birth without bleeding and crying and screaming and dying. I've been lying, living on the outside of life, bleeding my gums against the coconut show. Not until I smashed my heart and heart against harder rocks that I learned that living is a labor of dying is an art. And make no mistake. No mistake I
have aged ruptured by heart a sweet sun warmed mango split open his juices unruly, flagrant, sultry, fragrant, insane, sacred, noble and naked versus like vagrants, strangers in places that were one tone, I no longer have one of those. I'm nearly unconscious, barely existing love is pressing me out of living out of dying. There's no use of resisting of beauty and breaking him did. I leave you with that? Paul, that's beautiful. Thank you. So thank you so much for this conversation. I mean, obviously we could go for we could go one of these every week for the rest of the year. This subject matter is so important, and it can be so disheartening. But you know, I hope that you know, yourself
and myself and the people who are watching this, you know, not to fall into the hopelessness, you know, even in looking at this affair, that people are still designed for love, you know, they're created in love and by love that is their natural state that just pulled away from it and distracted from it and taught to fear it or to see it as low. But if we can, just like you said, just light a candle will be amazed how much darkness will evaporate if we can just like even a match. And we'll see that so much of what we were scared of. It's not even real. So if we maintain hope and we keep loving the best we can in our small ways in our small worlds and our big ways in the whole world,
then I still think we have a fighting chance inshallah. Yeah, no, the fitrah is there. The the human nature is there. But but it is love. That's where we have to get back to. And I'll and I'll, I'll give you a parting poem from probably one of the greatest poets of the
of that group. They're, they're more Lydian, they're the Pete the poets that came after the jolly poets. But he, this poet Abu Nawaz was unfortunately, he as a young boy, he was so brilliant his mother sent him to a famous poet to study under him in in Iraq and he ended up being debauched by him and and had a really tragic life, you know, became very profligate and
was a victim of his own lust and desire and and lived a pretty pretty
I think dissipated life. But at the end of his life, it was found under when he died, these lines were found under his pillow, where he's he wrote Yato beat an album though no because rotten. Oh, my Lord, if if my sins are magnified, and and immense in number Fukada and him to be an Africa Alamo, I'm certain that your forgiveness is even greater.
In Canada or zuca in amasi, known for the man yeah, do the wasted years
GTMO if you only if only the good people can hope for you
who is left for the criminal and and and and and the evil doer
there Oh Cara BB ma Marta Tara, I'm calling on you My Lord as you have commanded me. Faith out that Teddy Furby. Furby men, they are humble. I am calling on you, oh my lord as you commanded in utter humility. And if you turn my hand away, who will show me mercy. Molly Laker will see that Tony toon Ildar Raja, I have no other means, except hope in you.
Were Jimmy row Africa, thumb, animus Nemo, and knowing that you are a beautiful partner, and that I'm a Muslim.
So even for those in the snares of lust, and in the grip of their sinfulness, Allah is always there. And, you know, I, I've always loved the poetry of Dylan. But I once saw, he was honored in Hollywood with an award. And he came up and he looked out at this audience, and all he said, and it was very powerful to me, you know, they're all these. I mean, there's such a profit target group of people, you know, they're all just so dissipated, and, you know, just trapped in the snares of, of all seven, probably, of the deadly sins. And, and he said, that my father told me something. And then he hesitated. And then and then he, they, everybody laughed, he said, Well, he told me a lot of things.
And then he said, he told me, Son, you can be so defiled by this world, that even your parents won't recognize you.
But just know that God is always there to forgive you.
And I just thought to that group, what a powerful message so God help us and you know, just help this this country and our whole planet. We need to honor our women, the prophets, Allah Assam said, Only only honorable people honor women, and and only wretched people will demean women. And, and he said, The best of you are the best to your women. And I am the best of you to my women. So this this is a challenge for all the men is to be amongst the good and not amongst the Yeah, the contemptible and wretched.