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Islam And The Western World – Part 4

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Hamza Yusuf

Channel: Hamza Yusuf

Series:

Episode Notes

Episode Transcript

© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.


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Chickens are Chinese that are being brought over to work in sweatshops freeing them from slavery. And there's a lot of ways that we could look at that. My point is, is that our religious traditions need to be filtered through enlightened minds. And that's not an easy thing to do. So I would argue that religion, I would put it on top of the list of the three most dangerous things in the world.

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Religion is very dangerous. I would put at the top of the list political certitude, which is the type of utopianism, that that political people tend to believe that my way or the highway, this is the only way to go, whether it's Marxism or

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some type of economic theory, that is the only possible solution to the world's problems, globalization, you know, it's inevitable, there's nothing we can do about it. And you just have to,

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you know, suffer the consequences. And some of us will reap the benefits, whatever it is, if there's certitude, we're in danger, and I don't believe that, that, that you cannot be certain about your faith, but I think it's necessary for you to be uncertain about your own understanding of that faith. And so we need a lot more fallibilism. In our religious traditions, we need people to understand that we're very limited, as human beings, every every one of us has a lens through which we're looking at the world based on our cultural baggage based on our backgrounds. based on where we went to school. My experience from an African American who grew up in the inner city of Philadelphia

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is very different. He's looking at the world through very different eyes. It I'm, I'm actually always amazed at how,

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you know, when I see white racists, I always want to say to him, what's wrong with you? You know, I mean, why are you so angry? Because the majority of African Americans that I know, I'm amazed at the fact that they're so forgiving. When you look at the history of this country, it really, it's stunning. It's quite stunning to see that. But you see these really angry white people, and you're just wondering, like, what's your problem,

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you know, who aggressed on you who put you in chains and brought you over from from Scotland or wherever you came from? You know, so. So we, you know, we have to recognize that we have a serious problem in incertitude in this absolute. And I would say the third major problem that we have is cynicism. Because I really feel that it's very easy to become cynical. And I want to remind you all, this country was founded on extraordinary ideals. The men who articulated those ideals did not necessarily practice them, as is the one of all men, whether great or less than great, but they did have ideals. And and I am not cynical, to believe that that they didn't believe in those ideals. And

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I think what's extraordinary after 200 years, many of those ideals are becoming much more common.

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And we have to understand the immense strides that we have made, but we still have a long way to go. And I believe that the American Muslim community is challenging this country once again, whether or not there's still room at the table.

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Every community that's come to this country has had to duke it out to find a place at the table with the exception of the Anglo Saxons, the Irish had to do it, the Scottish had to do it. It wasn't about just color, the Irish are as white as the moon. But it took a long time for the Irish to finally get a president in the White House. It took a long time for the Irish to get some respect so that they weren't mixed or, or people that

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you didn't want your daughter to marry

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the Chinese,

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the Japanese, increasingly the Hispanic community. These are immense strides that we've made in our country. The Muslims, I believe, are challenging that table. Once again. You know, once you get to the table, there's not necessarily going to be you know, the manners that you would want or expect but you're at the table you have a right to the same food that everybody else is eating. And and I think in many ways, the Muslim American community is a unique community. It's the single most successful immigrant community in the history of the United States with the possible exception of the Hindu community because they came in here after the wave of civil rights be met Medgar Evers had

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to die. Martin Luther King had to die

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in order for them to really sit at that table, but they came here and now they're being pushed a little bit and they're struggling. So I think the onus is on our community to rise up to the occasion, you know, we need to duke it out a little bit as as as civil as possible. But we do need to to establish our place at the table. But I also hope that the people that are already sitting at the table can recognize there's plenty of room at the American table for the other. There's plenty of room and it only enriches the conversation. It only enriches

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The experience and on top of you get a lot of good Muslim food, that's going to going to be added, you're going to get curries and falafels and hummus and Baba Ganesh and so the Muslims have a lot to bring to that table. And, and and I'm looking forward to it. I'm very excited about it. And and I and I really hope that, that there's a very bright future for the Muslim community in this country. And finally, I would be remiss if I didn't say this, I really think that the,

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you know, this country has, in many ways deviated from that course from those ideals in several of the things that have happened. And I know this is not news to many of you. But I really think that we need to think deeply about really what is what what are the founding principles of this country, what are we about as Americans, I don't want to see America redefined. America cannot be a lie. America is a broken promise that meets needs to be restored. We we don't want the rest of the world to see us as a lie, that we talk about freedom. We talk about civil liberties, we talked about human rights, but we don't practice them with others. I don't want to see that happen. We need to end

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rendition, we need to end torture, torture, the prophet Mohammed said that he prohibited torture 1400 years ago, the textbooks that I studied that were written over 1000 years ago. Imagine you know the Maliki textbooks, it's prohibited to torture somebody to elicit information from them. human dignity is one of the six things that are preserved in Islam. And and that is the reason why there's a prohibition of torture, because it denigrates human dignity and human dignity transcends race, it transcends gender, it transcends creed, human dignity is inherent in every single person that's that's walking on the face of the earth. they're entitled to have their dignity respected, and

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torture is is is something that denigrates human dignity. It's amazing for me that it's even a question I would have never believed that Time magazine or Newsweek could have the torture question with a question mark. In my lifetime, I just can't believe that it wasn't the America that I grew up in. It wasn't the America that my mother taught me about. It wasn't the America that got my civics courses. And and and I just it troubles me to no end. And I think we really need to think deeply about where we're going as a people where we're going as a nation. On the other hand,

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I think there's immense reason to be hopeful as well. And that's why I've got five children that remind me that I have to be helpful. It's an obligation for me to be helpful, I cannot become a cynic for their sake. And the world's a challenging place. So thank you.

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Can we hear it again? For Jay does his holiday

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everybody?

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So So now what I like to ask everyone to do is to participate in an interactive dialogue. And I just want to say this, and I want to ask your permission for something. I like to ask your permission, if we could limit comments, questions or whatever you want to say to one minute.

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And that way we can get more people involved in the dialogue. Because I've been to a forum or two when removed Moore's

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law for a while. And I want to ask your permission, if I may be the one to enforce the one minute rule. It's a one minute rule. Okay.

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Can I enforce a woman rule?

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All right. All right. Well, let's get some dialogue started.

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Okay. The many of the Scots were driven out of

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ethnic cleansing by the Brits, they truly

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my grandmother, my grandparents fled this cabinet. Yeah, there was a Scots who fled the castle that persecution. So the,

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the, the back of the Anglo Saxon for more than just

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the Baptist and others are prohibited from practice in New England, and currently, so they don't want to have doctrinal positions. They had basically a purity that didn't allow any other religion. So it's not just the baptism.

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Yeah, I agree. I think you need to verify that.

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I know, I know that history, the German

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Yeah, I you know, this is a difficult form. These are almost dissertation topics.

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Well, I think it's more than interpretation, but

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I mean, the Unitarians were also suffering from that the

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The Quakers, there are many religious strains here. There were German Protestants. It's a complicated history. I agree. So, you know, if I stand corrected, I stand corrected. But

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have you mentioned something at the end about what you learned in your civics class. And I'm always troubled by the fact that we are losing more and more of our civics education. And so I'm wondering your thoughts, as a religious leader, as someone who's involved the business community as a member of Congress, what your thoughts are about the current state of civics education in America and what we as a collective body can do to improve it?

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Yeah, I mean, I think we probably

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all agree that I mean, I think we have lost something so fundamental to who we are, and what power raising children as a result. I mean, it's remember reading an article on Sunset, if we don't know which side, most kids in America didn't even know which side we were on in World War Two, we don't know that. That you know, that, by extension, you say, What is their worth living for dying for all these things? So I think, I think it's fundamental. I think it is, it's kind of a reflection of the whole crisis and education today, in so many ways. And, and, you know, obviously, we've got to do something about it. The what is a real question, when you're, you look at so many schools now,

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education isn't going on, it's just about stabilizing the patient so that people don't get killed? So you're saying, How did we get here? Yeah. So I think there's lots of lots of issues that schools and become the repository of all the craziness in our culture, and how we restore some civility there, I think it you know, I think part of it, we got to learn how to help people live with differences, whatever they are, it's not just interfaith just, you know, all kinds of differences. And I think that's what America is about this melting pot.

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But I think that just one little piece of the of the Mosaic,

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let me just make some really controversial comments here.

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Kids are smart. They want to learn.

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And I don't care for some of the poor, or the most wealthy kids, they all would love to know, these fascinating little nuggets that have been dropped all over this table just in the last few minutes. Our problem is we are not challenging these kids. We're not connecting what their world to what they should know, we're not helping them interpret reality. And too often, as I think, has been already said, we look at schools as places to warehouse and we don't look at as places to really challenged and engaged kids. I think there's a certain fear that if we truly democratize education and make it effective, we're going to have sort of an outpouring of too many smart people. And that threatens

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some people's concept of privilege. And so

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there you go.

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There's a very interesting website of 19th century, textbooks from from high schools in the United States. And the earliest civics book that I could find was from the 1830s. And I was really struck by how

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anti government the viewpoint in the book was really warning people about the dangers of government, the the implosion of government on civil liberties, and things like that, and really to be warned about that. So I thought that was that was very fascinating. I was also struck by the fact that I inherited my great grandmother's rhetoric from, from 1882. In Wisconsin, small town in Wisconsin, which today, I think a graduate student would have a hard time getting through it. I mean, quite literally, written by being a Scottish logician. But in the in the book, they have a section on the emotions. And there's a large section on the manipulation of people's emotions by politicians, and

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and, and fear and talking about demagoguery, the use of fear and scaring people and why you should be aware when you listen to speeches from fear mongers and the certain types of rhetorical devices that they use to create fear. I just thought it was very fascinating that people, you know, young people were taught these things in school. And I think, you know, we tend to forget how individualistic and how libertarian, the United States in the 19th century was, I really believe that.

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It's interesting to look at the success literature in this country all the way back to Benjamin Franklin and other things up until the 40s. And it's interesting if you kind of peruse an old bookshop, it was all about character. success was who you are as a person when no one was lucky, and it's the decisions you make. In the 40s. Things started changing the late 40s. It was more about technique. So now you hear every kind of success seminar, any kind of

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