Inner City Muslim Experience

Hamza Yusuf


Channel: Hamza Yusuf

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Salam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato.

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smilla salatu salam wa rahmatullah wa de woman Wada.

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Alhamdulillah. It's a blessing to be here. So extraordinary crowd. When you come to New York, you have to change your state of mind.

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You have to enter into a New York state of mind.

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Things are different here. People are different time is different. You have a different set of criteria for time.

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He called a New York minute.

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We don't have that. In California. We're gonna have a San Francisco minute or a Los Angeles, maybe you have a New York minute.

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This is the city my father actually went to Columbia. So I have roots in New York. My my father actually grew up here. He was born in Minnesota, but grew up here.

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And when I first became Muslim, I came to this city from California. And it was I was very young, and it was very overwhelming to be in the city.

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You can go outside now. It looks as crazy today, as it did back then it's just different. But it's still crazy. And when I came here, I hooked up with the Muslim community that was here. And amongst them was even thought about the Rashid. I was actually caught in the middle of a gunfight in Harlem. I'm not making this up. You couldn't make this up.

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And he remembers to you know, I was like selling books. And suddenly some people start shooting each other, saying Welcome to New York. That was my welcome. I'm coming from California. People smoke marijuana in California. Everything's slow.

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We have medical marijuana and everybody's sick in California. So everybody's stone.

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Right. So I you know, that was that was my welcome to California. Welcome to New York. And then, in order to survive here, I people used to sell jewelry. So I actually went and they taught me how to do it. But silver from the Koreans went down to Greenwich Village. I was there with

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a man named Abdo powder. I don't know if he's still alive. He got stabbed while I was here. But he was from Georgia. And we were walking one day. This is a true story. We were walking one day, and there was a prostitute and there was four or five guys from New Jersey. They had jersey plates, white guys in his cars African American prostitute. And they started talking to her. And we walked by and this guy on the other one will says, sister don't get in that car. She's not getting in that car. Well, this one of the guys gets out a car with a baseball bat and said to him, What's it to you? And I swear to God, he was probably six foot three or something. He looked like a ex football

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player. He walked up to this guy, he'd been in prison. He walked up to this guy, and right up to his face. And he said, I'm a Muslim. We don't hit first. So you go ahead and take your best shot.

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And this guy just got in the car, and with their tail between their legs, drove back to New Jersey. So that's a New York state of mind. Right? So that was the state of mind that I was getting into a little scary. So I was ready to go overseas to the Middle East study Arabic

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series, I was studying Ebonics, but I went over and studied Arabic. But it was a good experience for me to see this community here because I was part of history.

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I was at State Street. I went to Atlantic Avenue I saw Mohammed adly when he used to give those Hulk buzz there and and there was a brother, African American very light skin Imani Ibrahim, who'd studied overseas. I met Chef dowload sister Khadija, when I went up to the chef downloads room and saw this incredible looking man dressed in a Moroccan robe and had his betanews on and his yellow sandal I'll never forget the first time I ever saw bulevar yellow sandal looking down, saying you went up there. It was like the you know that it was a ritual to go up and visit, shift down. But that was history. And I was with people in Harlem, who had lived with Malcolm X they went that

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was only 1012 years after he died. I mean, these are people that went, that was where they went and heard the hokhmah. That's what's happening here. So you have to understand where you're from. And what you're part of. This is a historical transition that's happening. Islam at that time, was an African American phenomenon, with a certain level of immigrant coming into the scene, but Islam was very much an African American phenomenon in the United States. This is what

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the Muslims here the African American Muslims, were right there on the front lines, and they were taking it to the streets, they were talking about Islam with people selling incense, and giving Dawa. That's what was happening in New York. Now, a lot of people have come to America from other places, and one of the great crimes of the immigrant community. And I'm going to say this, one of the great crimes of the immigrant community is failing to recognize the importance of Alliance and allegiance with the African American Muslim community.

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This, this is something that we all have to be aware of.

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You see, because

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you can't say to an African American go back from where you came from.

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All right, right here from the start.

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In fact, long before many of the white people walking around, because they came later, we're talking about 500 years, this is when it begins.

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So it's very important for people to recognize that an allegiance with the African American Muslim community is only going to strengthen the Muslim community in the United States of America, there's no other way to strengthen this community.

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The African American community is also the canary in the coal mine of America. If you want to see where America is going, you look at the African American community. They're going to tell you where this country is going. And you can see two clear roads, a road of construction and a road of destruction within the community. Islam will help people make those u turns on that road of destruction. It will help to reunite the African American community with an incredible tradition of family.

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Because this is a community that survived the destruction, the institutionalized destruction of the family, and despite that these families were thriving in this country for a long time, in spite of all the institutionalized attempts to destroy those families. But there are many people today within that community who are suffering from the breakdown of the family. Islam is rooted in family.

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It can reunite it can reinvigorate

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these people need Islam.

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These people need Islam. And that is why a strong African American community is a strong American Muslim community. But it's also a strengthening of the overall African American community in this country. A community that is the first to suffer when there's economic hardships in this country. It's the first to suffer. People talk about a depression, go in to some of the inner cities in America and tell them about depression. They've been in depression for decades. It's not something new

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in that community. And that's why beacons of light and hope like mercy, the taqwa are what we need to strengthen in this country. These are the beacons of hope in very bleak and desolate places. And it's important for the immigrant community to be aware of that.

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The first time I heard him say Raj was in Los Angeles. And I know for many people that if you're old enough, there's there's you can ask people from a certain generation where were you when Kennedy was killed? I'm not from that generation. I wasn't old enough.

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But there are people that remember, there are people that remember exactly where they were when they first found out about 911. But if you think you can remember where you first heard him set up,

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because your mom Suraj is a voice that's powerful. It's a voice that resonates. It's a voice that speaks the truth. He's been attacked, he's been slandered. He's been maligned. He's been

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Been vilified.

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But despite that he struggles on him on Suraj, like all of us is a work in progress.

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This is the human condition. There's people that want to say that something you said 20 or 30 years ago, you still say today? No, there's something called human evolution. People transform people become more aware. Especially inveterate, and permanent students like him and Sarah, every time I've ever seen him like Ingrid Mattson earlier Dr. Mattson set, he's always got his bag of books. He's always got his pens.

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He's always got his dictionary.

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He's one of the scholars of the American Muslim community. He's had a lifetime of scholarship. And his community, to me, is one of the most important communities in the United States of America and helping it is one of the most important things we can do as a community. And our community has to recognize this. And this has to transcend this this ballroom.

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It has to transcend this ballroom. It is a disgrace for the overall American Muslim community, that the Imam of a Masjid that has raised more money

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for the American Muslim community than other any other Imam in the United States of America, I can guarantee you that, if you had a flow chart, you would see how much this man has raised, going all over the country, to the neglect of his own community, to raise money for other communities. And it's time that all of our communities paid back. It's time we all pay back. This is this is the way it goes, this is the way it works. You have to pay back. And so it's very important that you deliver this message to other places we need to support and institutionally a mom's aid and I hear we don't have a quorum, but I can say we will make that commitment to support within our own institution,

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what we can for this institution here now,

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the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam

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was a community builder.

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And we are in a time when community is threatened.

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We've never been in a time like this really, in human history, as far as I can tell.

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We have right now, in this country, a breakdown of communities on all the stratas of this society. We have

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children who are texting,

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in their own homes, they don't talk to their parents anymore. They're talking to their friends.

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Online, we've got predators online, preying in the homes.

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You never have anybody knock at your door and you go and you've never seen it before. And you say

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I'm a complete stranger, but I'd like to entertain your children for a few hours. Is that all right? And you Oh, come on in. Yeah, here they are. I'll see you later. But every day, people turn on the television, and that complete strangers entertain their children. And if you look at what they're entertaining them with, and then you wonder why we've got little girls walking around with juicy on their bottoms. If you want to see the purification of a culture, the degradation of a civilization just look around. Look at at what has happened to us as a species as a people because the human project, the human project right now is under serious threat.

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It is under serious threat. We have lawbreakers making the rules. We've got rulers breaking the laws. We've got banksters on Wall Street, we've got gangsters on Main Street. And we've got heads of football teams with charitable organizations that are used as fronts to molest children in showers at those same football stadiums. What's going on in this country, we've got one out of five women being raped in this country right now. This is their own statistics. This is what what we're being told what is happening, what's happening to us, as a species, as a people.

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What's happened to us we have to ask these questions. What kind of a society Do we want our children to grow up in? What kind of culture do we want to be part of? I want to be part of a culture that elevates people, that illuminates people that gives them language to speak with power, like that beautiful spoken word that we heard earlier.

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poet's a culture of meaning. This is what I want to have for my children and my children's children and the people around me. The other day, I came into New York from Abu Dhabi

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on an airplane.

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And I was there, and I and I was waiting for somebody to pick me up. And people were coming off. And airports are amazing places, beautiful metaphors for life on Earth, the comings and goings, separations, and reunifications.

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People smiling with love people with signs looking bored out of their gourd, wondering who's gonna come around the corner.

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There were two little girls, and they were beautiful little girls, it couldn't have been more than five years old. They were Asian American. And they came around the corner and I saw him immediately. And they saw their grandfather and their eyes lit up. And they ran and they just had grandpa and they hugged him. And then a few seconds later, the mother came looking harried and disheveled she came. And she gave her father a hug. And I actually told him, I said, You're a lucky man, because they just with so much love. They went up to their grandfather. And then the, the woman started frantically looking through a purse. And then a woman came up to her. And she said, Did you lose

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this? And she handed her an iPhone, and she said, Oh, thank you. She said, I found it in the bathroom, and I saw you leave. So I thought it might be yours. And then she turned to her father. And she said, I lost my tickets at Starbucks, and somebody brought them to us. And now I lost my phone. And this person brought them to us. Thank God for the good people. And this little five year old girl said Hooray for the good people.

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Hurray for the good people. And this little five year old girl said Hooray for the good people.

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Hooray for the good people.

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I mean, really, that just floored me this little girl recognizing goodness and saying hooray, hooray for the good people. We need good people to wake up because the bad people are there out there wreaking havoc on this planet. And the good people are either sitting by silently shaking their heads, wondering what's going on, or they're fast asleep and there's too many Muslims fast asleep. We have moral corruption. We have bankruptcy in our community. How can we speak the truth when we have some of the worst most corrupt countries in the world? How can a Muslims call to good forbid evil? Really think about that. We need moral capital. We need to look ourselves in the mirror. And

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when we we should look in the mirror to change ourselves to look at what needs fixing. Because we as a community, we are failing humanity. We were given an extraordinary task and we are failing humanity. Allah subhana wa tada said in the Quran, kuntum Cairo mutton, leanness, you were the best community and that kuntum is in the past tense for a reason. Because it referred specifically to that first community couldn't have hired our own mutton rejet Lynette, you were brought forth for all of humanity. The NASS top morona been my roof. What? 10 honan and mooncup What took me known it'd be love. You enjoin what is right?

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you forbid what is evil, and you believe in God. Any community that has these three qualities shares in that excellence of that first community? That's what we need to be doing as a community to come in Come on latonia their own A Little Haiti. Let there be amongst you a community that calls to good that calls to good talk more owner that Yup, morona did moto V and Honda and in mooncup, but we'll let it go home and move on. They enjoy what is right and they forbid what is evil. And these are the successful ones. One clonal, kalinina, tuffa, Rocco, terraforming bad imager, Omar vaginas. And don't be Don't be like those, those people who went into sex and divisions and differ after these

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clear signs had come to them. What will let you get a hold of him. These will have a painful chastisement. The only way this community can be united without the

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visions is by recognizing the nature of humanity, which is to differ about things. Muslims have always differed. We incorporated difference into our religious ethos.

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We have different ways of viewing things. Each of our groups has their scholars, there are rightly guided groups. And then there are misguided groups. Unfortunately, there's differences about who those right the guided groups are and who the misguided groups are. There's where the problem arises. But if you take a broad based criteria, a broad based criterion, a generous criterion of our moms, who are well known in our community, throughout history,

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we can unite as a community, America, the American Muslim community, the Canadian Muslim community, these can be beacons of light for other places. The fact that the Muslim Council of Scholars in this city is one of the most extraordinary accomplishments in the Muslim world, I'm not talking just about the United States of America, a group of imams from diverse backgrounds, different geographical locations, to come together to work together. That's what can happen in this country, we have the potential to change the world that we're in. And there's no other reason to be in this world. Unless you're here to change it for the better. Because there's enough people out there

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changing it for the worst. And you need to choose your sides, choose your battles, but start the struggle. Because the struggles if you don't go to the struggle, the struggle will come to you. It's the nature of life on this planet. If you don't go to the struggle, the struggle will go to you. But this is a long train. And it's been moving for a long time, Rosa Parks went to jail in this country so that these people could be sitting at this table together. That's right. That's right.

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Medgar Evers took a bullet in the back.

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Martin Luther King, Malcolm X,

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these people their sacrifice their lives for a different America.

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And there are many positive and good things about America today. It is undeniable, some of the achievements that have occurred in our lifetimes.

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And we need to acknowledge that and recognize that. But there are other things that are deeply troubling. And if we don't look those things straight in the eye, and deal with them, as a community recognize that we have allies in the greater community. We have good people that are standing by us that are defending us. We have people on the left like Chris Chris Hedges appeal, it's a prize winning journalist who's willing to speak the truth for the Muslim community on our behalf. And those people need to be recognized. We have people like Robert George, who's on the right, one of the most significant legal minds in the in the United States today teaching at Princeton,

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defending the Muslim community.

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We need to recognize who our allies are, and those out there who are attacking this community. There are some of them who are simply ignorant, they need to be educated. There are others that are educated, but they have an agenda. You cannot blame the Jewish community. Not all of the Jewish community. But a certain segment of the Jewish community in this country does not like the idea of a strong Islam in America, because the Jewish community has worked very hard to be enfranchised in this country. Many of the Jewish community has a tribal allegiance to Israel, just like many of the people in this hall might have some tribal allegiances to places they came from to. That's human

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That's human nature.

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So you have to be aware there are people that are deeply disturbed by the idea of a powerful, vibrant Muslim community that is going to engage the dominant community in new discourses.

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But there are people within the Jewish community that have stood by our community defended our community. So it's important for us to distinguish friends from foes.

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Right friends from foes, recognizing who our friends are, who our enemies are, and unfortunately, we have amongst ourselves amongst the Muslim community, what I would what I would call frenemies, right. We've got a lot of those shooting us in the foot as a community, unfortunately.

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God bless you all God bless him and Suraj and his community. We owe them our support. saramonic Kumar,