Making the World Safe for Community, Commerce, and Creed – The Prophet’s Mission
Channel: Hamza Yusuf
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Bismillahirrahmanirrahim Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu Welcome and thank you all for joining us today for the second program of the wi Ll series for the love of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. In this seven part series, we will host conversations with scholars in commemoration of the life of the Prophet sallallahu Ida He will send them for today's session, we are honored to have Dr. Juan Cole the Richard T. Mitchell, collegiate professor of history at the University of Michigan, in conversation with Hamza Yusuf president of zaytuna College. This event is titled making the world safe for community commerce increase the profits mission. Please welcome
President Hamza Yusuf.
Bismillah R Rahman, r Bismillah.
ceremony Kumara de la barakato Alhamdulillah smilla rahmanir rahim masala, let's say the Mohammed atta and it was it was saddam
and Mubarak. This is a blessed month it's the month of hegira. It's also the month of our profits birth, and it's the month that he arrived in Medina. So today, we're really fortunate to have somebody who I just consider an extraordinary scholar in the United States in a time, when in many ways, this is my personal opinion. And so I'll leave it at that. But in many ways, the social sciences in particular, I think, have fallen on very hard times in relation to
the past in terms of Western academia. I mean, I think the STEM areas are still quite extraordinary. But I really feel like the social sciences history and other sciences even though there are some wonderful books being produced. But overall, when when you look at the scholars of the past somebody like Toynbee
or Van Doren or, or others in the social sciences, but doctor one call I call is, I think, an outlier in those terms. I think he's somebody that really does
represent the best in academia. I would put people like Dr. Khalid Blankenship, I think he's less productive in terms of his output than you but just my own experience with him and the many times I spent with him just stunning knowledge of history and of languages. And I know Dr. Cole is a polyglot. And I think a world class historian. He's He's the Richard P. Mitchell, collegiate professor of history at the University of Michigan, and possibly a Wolverine fan. For three and a half decades, he sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His most recent book, which I read and just found fascinating, is Mohammed. Salah light is
a prophet of peace amidst the class of clash of empires. He's also the author of the new Arabs, how the millennial generation is changing the Middle East, engaging the Muslim world, Napoleon's Egypt invading the Middle East, and and many books and articles and I think his reputation is as well established in academia.
And but he's also a very astute political commentator and has many interesting things to say about our current world condition. So I just want to welcome you. And really thank you for allowing us this opportunity to benefit from your vast knowledge. So that Welcome, Dr. Koh. Well, thank you so much for those very kind, and somewhat undeserved words, but thank you, I appreciate the warmth of the introduction.
Well, let's start off I, I read your book. And I've, I've spent a lot of time in Sierra, I love Sierra literature, there's a vast amount of literature, much of it actually quite problematic, as you will know, the Sierra was the least rigorous of all the Islamic sciences. And so a lot of things crept into siara. That I think people that have animus towards Islam has have mined very well, to present a darker side of the religion. But there is a normative Syrah that that I have loved, and I've taught. And when I read your book, it completely, I would say, it really was like, an unveiling like I had looked at Sierra, in a certain way. But when I read your book, I just felt like you
brought this fascinating scope that I hadn't really thought about before. And I think the most significant of all of the things that I benefited from that book was how you basically
contextualize the prophetic biography in the midst of this extraordinary global scene. And maybe you could just, we'll start off by maybe you could just talk a little bit about that. Sure. Well, the the serial literature, the literature of the biography of the Prophet that was produced
in, in extenso, in the ambassade, period, you know, a long time after the prophets, death 130 to 300 years, the classic works were produced after his death. But they are unanimous that the Prophet Muhammad made trade journeys, especially as a younger man,
up into the Eastern Roman Empire. And
then we know from history that the Iranian Empire, the sassanid, Empire, occupied Yemen, starting probably in the early 570s,
when Mohammed was a toddler, and so the Mecca and Medina the jazz, where he grew up and had his prophetic career, we're surrounded by these two empires.
And the big thing that happened was that in 603,
when the Prophet would have been probably in his 30s,
the two went to war. And it was a brutal war that lasted for 26 years. And I call it a World War. It It took place in Central Asia and the Balkans, in the Near East, in Syria and Palestine and Egypt, was swept up in it. And the Iranians for much of that period, one victory after victory against the eastern Romans, whose capital was in Constantinople, but who had what we now call the Middle East, or much of it under their rule. They had Syria they had Palestine, they have trans Jordan, the head Egypt, they had Tunisia,
but much of that was taken away from them by the Iranians. And that was happening while the Quran was being recited by the prophet to his contemporaries and the sort of room the chapter of Rome
is explicit in mentioning these events, and it says that Rome has been vanquished in a nearby province, but that after a few years, it will come back and it predicts a victory ultimately, of the Roman Emperor against the Iranians, which it it characterizes as God's victory. All right. So I think of this a little bit like
You know, in the Old Testament, the Iranian King Cyrus, Cyrus side saved the Jews from their exile. And so the God of the Bible, you know, kind of approves of Cyrus in one verse. And so I think of this verse in the Quran is a little bit similar that the, the God will be happy and the believers will rejoice at three of the Roman King. Right? Isaiah was a man who did not know God according to the Bible, but God used him. I think that there are certain evangelicals that see Trump as a new Cyrus interesting.
And they they've used that analogy, the, you know, one of the things that
really fascinated me about that contextualization and thinking about the war was the fact that the the province of Assam was deeply affected by the war in the same way that the whole world when World War One and World War Two happened, despite the fact that most of it was on the European Theater. There, the Middle East was affected by it, India was affected by it North Africa, that this is the type of impact that that war had. And I don't think our tradition has taken that as seriously, as it becomes very clear in reading your book. One of the fascinating things was to me was the idea of hapa, who's Hercules
is brought from Libya to to kind of clean up he's like a general grant that comes in after several incompetent generals that the Byzantines we're finding one after another unable to stop this assault, but he's brought in with Libyan mercenaries and and fascinating how then he becomes such an important figure in the Levantine area sham. Yeah, heraclius. His family may have been originally Armenian, but they rose high in the in the late Roman bureaucracy and his father was sent to be console of Carthage, today's Tunisia. And so he was over there with his father. And things weren't going well in the Empire at all. And so there had been a kind of bootlegger of a, an adventurous
general focus, who had, you know, made a coup and taken over. And his coup was, was one of the reasons that the Iranians invaded, because they had been friendly with the old Emperor that he, he killed and he killed their families and the Iranians posed as defenders, you know, of the old Roman dynasty. So, one of the I think it was one of the focuses relatives, actually became disgusted with him, sort of the Mary Trump of her day of his day and, and wrote to heraclius, his father in in Carthage that would you please come and make a coup and take over. And the old man didn't want to do it. So he sent his 35 year old son, with ships, and since they were in North Africa, they did have
amazi soldiers. And so he took Constantinople, it's one of the few times the Constantinople was taken after it became a major city unto the Romans, and
the next time would be probably the Ottomans in 1453. But he took it and,
and so established himself as the new Emperor. But he didn't have any more luck against the Iranians for about 15 years. That has been right that had. And so as you say, if you were in Mecca and Medina and this era, what would you see as the Iranians were in Yemen, they could come North at any time. The Iranians were in trans Jordan, they were in Syria, they could come South at any time. And people in the hijas, from all accounts valued their independence. Right? They said they were lucky, they were a cephalus. They didn't have a king or a central government. And so they were probably pretty afraid that the King of kings, the Iranian
Emperor would, would would would take their territory. And of course, trade was disrupted during this war. If you if you used to travel up to Damascus for trade, well, all of a sudden Damascus is in Iranian hands. It's not the same people you'd be dealing with, are they still going to let you come in for trade? So sure, I think that things were very up in the air and I believe some of the
sort of more
apocalyptic chapters of the Quran were in this period when you know it's talking about the stars will fall and, and the seas will rise and the wild animals will congregate. And I think these are all ways of speaking about how the world was in such turbulent and turmoil. Yeah, and and the other thing that really, really I found fascinating and, and, and again, put something into a light that I really hadn't considered before was the fact that you brought out that the Jews were very supportive of the Persians because the Byzantines had desecrated their synagogues have prevented them from visiting the, what they considered their sanctuary. And and had basically not been very kind to them
as co religionists within the Abrahamic fall, but rather saw them as Christ killers, which was a common trope in European history. And so there was a lot of Jewish persecution. And so they saw the Iranians despite the fact they were pagans, again, and a kind of
looking to Isaiah and Ezra have this, you know, Cyrus type character who is going to come in and once again, as Cyrus did in the past, save them from this terrible fate of being under these brutal tyrants. And and I think the fact that the prophets Allah has sent him saw them as, as people of the book and monotheists you know, I always, if I was ever translated, the Koran, I would translate a little keytab as the people have the biblio. You know, it's really, it's because as you know, Bible is a book in Greek biblio. And they were the people of the Bible. And so I think he saw them some a lot. He said, I'm very much as natural allies against these pagans who he was dealing with, in, in
in Mecca that had been persecuting him. So a lot is that um, so I find that I found that really fascinating, the Animus that I think some of the Jews in Medina had had to do with this war, and I'd never considered it like now. Yeah, I think the relationship of the prophet in the early community to the Jews was very complex, because on the one hand,
it seems clear to me from the Koran and the Constitution of Medina, that the Prophet hoped that he could establish an Abrahamic oma Alliance, nation of monotheistic and alliance of Christians, Jews and an early Muslims, against the pagans in Mecca who were quite, you know, aggressive, and would if they could have, they would have just taken Medina and killed the Muslims. And so he had hoped that he could establish such a, an alliance of the monotheistic faiths. And for a while It seems that he did succeed or that he succeeded partially in this hope. But as time goes on, through the later chapters of the Quran, it becomes clear that some proportion of the Jewish community sided with the
pagans. And I think you're absolutely right that in given what we know about the geopolitics of it, it's probably that the pagans were being put up to these attacks on the early Muslims, by the Iranian generals in in Yemen, and the Jews were aligned with them, or some some of the Jews were allied with them. Right, there was a gradual break with, I don't think it was everybody because there's still late Quran verses that speak very highly of Jews. But it does say the, you know, the, in this sort of divide, and that chapter of the table that the closest in love to the early Muslims or the Christians, right, and that makes sense of, you know, kind of a geopolitical tilt toward the
Empire. Right? The biggest enemies were Jews, which also if they were polytheists, and the
same is Yeah, but both of whom presumably were allied with with with one another. Yeah. Which is, I thought, I found that really to be very illuminating, just in terms of understanding at a deeper level. I mean, as we know that the prophets alized them it would actually according to Urbanus, hop anyway, would go to the Midrash. And he would actually meet with the rabbis and they would have discussions about things. He also met with the Christians from different delegations, and that john being the most famous were that he actually entertained them inside.
The message it's a lot is in the mosque in Medina, which is a very interesting
events. But I just I thought that was fascinating. We know that the Jews were in Medina or at least around Medina
probably well into the eighth century and I think there's a certain Muslim narrative that Omar dispelled all of the Jews and that's it actually in in a sound collection. But I found it very interesting. In during the time of man about the law, no, the, the, the Jewish wife of the prophets, Allah said, I'm Sophia was accused of being a crypto Jew. And, and, and the accusation was based on the fact that she visited her Jewish relatives on the Sabbath. And, and when she was asked by a man, he wanted to dispel the,
the, the, the accusation but so he went directly to her. And she said, They're my relatives, and that's the best day for me
to visit them because they're in their homes on that day. And I just thought that was very interesting, which meant that there were still Jewish people, at least around Medina and some say interesting enough that the gela of Omar because there's a difference of opinion about the Jews era, an obeah. Because the Hadith, which says to Lester marrow DNA features, the other two religions cannot coexist. On the Arabian Peninsula. There is a very strong opinion that that's actually just the hot domain. It's actually Mecca and Medina. Does it make sense? To to the and that's how Omar would have understood it, so it wouldn't have been expelling them from the peninsula. And, and this
is still, I mean, there's so many things I feel in the Sierra and and in the history of Islam that really need revisiting. I mean, I found for instance, when I read Barack Obama's book, the Jews and Mohammad, I just had an incredible again, similar to reading your book, a kind of epiphany about the exaggerations that came about in the in the in the quote unquote, massacre and I'm actually unfortunately, I was interviewed many years ago, before I read a Hammonds book, I was interviewed for a PBS series on the Prophet Muhammad's life. So a lot is that um, and I was asked that question about haibo. And I gave a kind of standard normative response, which I would not do now knowing what
I know. And then after I read bottlecaps book, I read kiss stars.
refutation of the book, which was also very enlightening, because I saw that some shortcomings kiss star I mean, I your eye is on Am I pronouncing that right kiss? kisser? Yeah, yeah, kid star. I mean, I just found him just an extraordinary resource, just a really revered bearded man. Yeah. Brilliant researcher, and actually wrote to his student let her Michael lacquer who also wrote some interesting books. I disagreed with kister on on on some of his arguments. But overall, I think
the it's just quite tragic how these things have gotten into the Sierra and into Tafseer literature, and have been replicated. And when you actually go back, which I I did, because I when I read the book, and I read, oh, it was all in the house of Omaha. Tom, all the Jews were held in the house of Omaha, Tom. And then I thought, How big was that house? And so I actually my friend chabela party who's really probably in my estimation, the most learned person I've ever met living about the Sierra of the prophets eyes them I don't think anybody alive even come comes close to his knowledge of the CRM is a brilliant scholar. But I asked him about Omaha Tom's house and he said, and and I
said, how many people could it hold? He said, maximum 10.
And, and so that made me think, Wow, only 10. And then the idea that 300 to 900, though, that's what you get in the literature about the Jewish men that were executed 300 to 900. I mean, that's a huge disparity. And then the this idea that they were all killed in the marketplace, on on one day by two men. That just it just sounded more and more far fetched, the more I thought about it, what are your ideas?
about that. Sure. Well, you know, I am kind of a believer in the Syrah cornea.
I think if something was really important, the Quran would probably have mentioned it.
And so I can't prove that certain things didn't happen.
But it seems to me that the Quran does mentioned quite a few important events, it mentions the Hydra and then hiding in the cave, it you know, there are some people who say there's not much history in the Quran, but I believe there's actually quite a lot. And so I just find it very hard to believe that a major incident like that would occur, and there would be no proof about it. And the verses that do exist, it's one in sort of that,
though, what it says that they fought, and then prisoner,
you know, other way around, and some and some were killed. It does say that, but it does say it, but it says they were killed in the fighting. It doesn't say that they were taken prisoner and then killed, it can definitely be understood in that. Yeah. So I just, I don't find the the Quranic basis for this. And then there's another verse in the Quran, which talks about what you do with a prisoner of war? Because I took a lot of prisoners of war. And that's a logistical problem, how do you feed them how to you
tied up and so so the Quran says, Let them go, or Ranson them. Right? The other but even it says, during the war, let them go, or ransom. And that's how you deal with a prisoner of war. So I Yeah, and I think the argument and there's an argument for this, because the prophets alized them, according to the dominant opinion, did not actually judge them. It was sad, they've been wired, and he judged them according to the Torah, which was a kind of treason. But then again, that would be the leadership and that would be the people involved that would not involve other people. So it's definitely something I think that really needs to be,
I think, profoundly revisited. And, and, and, and reassessed. The other thing that I think is, is, is really important is what what you've done, which is taking verses, and this is another thing that I just found fascinating about your book is taking verses that appear to be about Pharaoh and Moses and about, but you're, you're really seeing them as parables, really, that are meant to be applied to the the current crises. And so it becomes and this to me reaffirms my own assessment of the Koran, that it's it's it's archetypal, it's constantly working with archetypes, so that it has a perennial power, that that always Can, can be adapted to whatever time and place that you're in. And
and and so I really appreciated some of the highlights of looking at these verses in a completely new light. Well, thank you. And, yes, I think that there's been a tendency to read the Quran in a kind of very simplistic positivist way, I think it's enormously rich text and the, you know, often these, why is this the Quran full of these stories about the past, both about the Arabian past and about the biblical past, is that it's, it's, it's, these are stories that are meaningful to the prophets, audience. And he's, I think the Quran is trying to make a point to people using these figures really, in a symbolic way. And so, you know, there's, there's a verse where God instructs
Moses to address Pharaoh, gently, you know, Lion.
And is that really just about Moses and Pharaoh, or is it about the opposition that the early community God in that and how, how to respond to being taught and harassed and so forth? So I think a lot of these stories are symbolic, they're deep, and they're as you say, they have resonances for the contemporary situation. So I you know, there's there's one Christian texts which complains bitterly that when the Iranians took
Palestine, they they killed a lot of the men and the enslaved the women and they divide trade
To divide the local community against each other. And there's a verse in the Quran that says exactly that about Pharaoh. And I thought, well, you know, isn't holstebro the second the Iranian aggressive emperor who launched this horrible war? Isn't he a kind of Pharaoh of his AI? Might not that a little bit of a reference to him? We're about to enter into the questions. It's gone fast. But before we do, I found and I know you're a colleague of Dr. Tolin, john Tolan, but I found his book faces of Mohamed's, a lot is going to be fascinating. But one of the things that he points out is the extraordinary checkered view that that the West has had with the Prophet Mohammed Salah is to
them. There were times when he was a Christian, seen as a Christian heretic, there were times when I mean, even, you know, horrible things were said about him. The idea somehow that Islam was an anti christic force. And then there's other times, where he was seen as a reformer and somebody who really we should learn from, and that shows up a little later. But you really see some extraordinary
perspectives coming from the Europeans, where they really saw him as doing away with superstition, in religion and Christianity had to a lot of the Enlightenment people just been so inundated with superstitious practices and beliefs, that they actually used Islam as a kind of example, that that maybe instead of denigrating or attacking this religion, we should like Henry Stubb argued, learn from it, maybe just as a historian, you might comment a little bit on that. Sure. Well, as you say, images of the Prophet Mohammed changed over time, a great deal when Europe was, you know, deeply religious, he was seen as a heretic and, and condemned, but then in the Enlightenment, there were
some thinkers who began to admire him. I think Bonaparte did for instance, right? Apparently, yeah, when he met with with garota. He was very upset with carta for translating full tears,
play about the profits ally sit down and and began to praise the prophet to guard the poet. Yes, that's right, well and good to himself.
produced Of course, the East West devonne
German poetry in imitation of Hafez, which says nice things about Islam. And so, as you as you were mentioning, earlier, the good to may have translated the Voltaire as a way of attacking
Christianity, Christian obscurantism, but when he came to talk about Islam itself, he was full of praise that, you know, there was a a an abolitionist woman in the United States in the mid 19th century. Lydia Maria child, who is enormously famous in her own period, and she wrote novels and she had a educational magazine to teach children she was kind of like the Sesame Street of her age.
Lydia Maria child, she wrote a world history in the 1850s. And it has some sections on Islam. And as an antebellum abolitionist woman, sort of a transcendentalist. She says very nice things about it. She says, The Prophet urged manumission of slaves as a good deed that he improved the
the condition of women and there's this this sort of just a small paragraph, but full of praise for the Islamic teaching. Well, you don't expect to find in you know, 1850s, largely of angelical America, but she was, she was willing to do that. And she actually was not over this issue, but was attacked as an abolitionist and the whole South cancelled their subscription to her magazine and ruined her career really over her stand against slavery. But so yes, there were these images. And then in Carlisle, of course, is the famous one.
Who thought it was stupid to
allege that Mohammed was somehow a false man. He said a false man couldn't even build a house that would fall down, like civilization.
So, yes, and I think, you know, as time went on in the West came to know more about
Muhammad and Islam as the as the British, you know, were in India for 200 years and knew a lot about Indian Islam and so forth. There were a lot of people who said, Well, you know,
those who didn't like the Trinity would say Mohammed Praise God. And it's not necessarily they wanted to convert to Islam, but they could just admire, you know, right of what Muhammad good for. Well, I, I republished Edwin Arnold's
commentary, poetic commentary on the 99 names. And I found that book and it used bookstore, it's called the pearls of faith, you probably know it, but I, I just thought it was a Christian book, I pulled it out just to look at it. It was an old book, and it was for 1882.
And, oddly enough, I got this his signed addition to his mother, you know, and, you know, he's, he said to the author's mother with fond, you know, with fondest admiration, some very Victorian way of talking to your mother. But I was so struck by the book, and then I actually read about him. And he, he's actually in the 11th edition of the encyclopedia, the famous encyclopedia,
because he was one of the great notables of late 19th century England. But he first he wrote about Buddha, it called the light of Asia, he wrote a poem.
Yeah. And then he wrote the pros of faith. But in the introduction, he said, you know, we have denigrated this great man for far too long. And he, along with his sister religions, must play their role in preparing mankind for that distant event, meaning the Day of Judgment. So quite fascinating. I think we're gonna entertain some questions now.
are they going to show up on this?
Okay, got it. So great.
You know, one of the things that went so fast, I wanted to because the title was making the world safe for commerce,
and community commerce and trade. And one of the things again, out of your book that I got, so we have a question here, about how important was the facilitation of trade and commerce for the profitable SM and I think that's one of the other benefits of people forget that the vast majority of the military expeditions were to protect the caravan, the commercial caravans from Raiders from Mecca. So again, I think that to me, was a really illuminating aspect of your book, but maybe you could just address that question. How important was the facilitation of trade and commerce for the profits a lot? Sure. Well, you know, the Arabian system that existed even before the Prophet was
mixed practices of peace with trade. Because although most people in the hijas and southern trans Jordan lived in villages, and there were a few small cities, there were also pastoral nomads in the area, and pastoral nomads lived by rating and feuding.
so how would you do trade under these conditions? If you had a caravan going up to Damascus for Mecca, you'd have to go through tribal territory. So the way it worked was that the shrine to, to Allah in in the Kaaba in Mecca, was a place of peace. So Mecca was a hot item. It was it was a sanctuary city where you couldn't fight. And it was also Hemet, so you couldn't cut down trees or hunt animals and in the environments and environment environs of the Kaaba at least. And the prophets family, the vandal Hashem were the shrine keepers. So his his grandfather of the McCullough was the one who who provided the pilgrims with water and food and, and so forth. And I think they
were also the the sheriff's the peacekeepers, because if you have a system that you're not allowed to feud in a place, well, what happens when there's a feud. And there would have to be some kind of restitution. And I think Banu Hashim was, there's some evidence also in the Islamic literature that Abu talav you know, sad as a kind of father kind of judge in settling those tort cases where it
Where the peace was disturbed. And not only was was Mecca, a sanctuary of peace, but also then there were other such sanctuaries. And there was a whole network of them. And I think that the, the prophet and other Mexicans who went up for trade to the Roman Empire depended on those sanctuaries of peace as places to stop and, and stay and they would be, and then the Banu Hashim would be respected by the Bedouin, because they were the servants of the Kaaba, which was, you know, to, to to a very powerful God and they were recognized as, as people you don't raid because of that. And there's there's even a one author who
alleges that they used to wear a ROM when they went for these trading version
journeys to demonstrate, you know, to declare that there are kind of merchants slash pilgrim pilgrims, right? Yes. So commerce, trade and peace. were all very interrelated. And of course, you can't have commerce in an anarchic situations. And I think these beliefs about peace, were intended to kind of tame the the Beto who who were very superstitious and did buy into these to these beliefs. And so I think the thing you get from the Koran, about the Mexican pagans is how outrageous their behavior was, that they violated all of these norms. So they are in Mecca, where there's not supposed to be any feuding, where everybody is supposed to have peaceful access to the to the Kaaba,
they expelled the prophet and and the early Muslims, by by harassing them, taunting them, threatening them.
The Quran suggests that even they, they they considered killing him. And and that's not allowed by the pagan Meccans own norms. They had behaved very badly. And I think there was a kind of competition for public opinion and the Hejaz about this. And I think there's some evidence that the Quran one out that other people the non non Quraysh, you know, came to sympathize with the Muslims the way they had been treated in a city in a sanctuary. So these norms of peace and trade, as you say, were very related. Right. And also the I, you know, I thought long and hard on why the prophets ally, Sam was a merchant before he was a prophet. It's a very interesting, I mean, from our
perspective, who believed that he was a divine emissary, not divine, but an emissary from the divine. The
the idea, then I think, would God would give him a trade that that would be the highest of trades. And, and I came to realize that that, that merchants really are the most valuable people for humanity. Because they they do so much everything we have everything around us, is from commerce, and trade, all of the things that enable us to live without having to go out and forage for ourselves and hunt, or to make our own clothes, or grind our own lenses to make to make glasses for those of us who suffer from weak eyesight. And so the merchants are just, they are so important. And so commerce is so central to the Islamic tradition, I find it very fascinating that most places
where Islam spread,
ironically, were all through commerce. So the idea of Indians and then later Yemenis going to South Asia, where you had all these people, or, again, the Yemenis, who went into
Africa, down into
Kenya and Djibouti and all these places, all the way down to Mozambique and that they were basically traders, and it was through commerce that many people embraced Islam because they found them so uprights so I find that really an interesting aspect of Islam. There. There's another question here that and I'll just answer it quickly about what what the process for sifting through weak and strong narration in Sara literature, Sara literature, because there are a lot of them are stories, the scholars kind of just gave up.
for quite a few things and and one of the problems with urbanists, Haku obviously, is, is incredibly important. But he was not considered trustworthy. In Hadith by Imam Malik.
He collected everything. So if he was, he was, he was the person who just said, Let the scholars sort this out. So he really wrote a siara not for common people. It was written really for scholars, and then later from that had been, he makes the first iteration. And then from that come all of the, the much more devotional Sierra, the first one that I read was a Sierra translated from South Asia called pi m bar, the messenger, which was very nice. And then second one was called the shadowless Prophet, which was also very beautiful. But let far less rigorous. And, and I think of late one, a very important Sierra is known as that I have on my phone, which was written by a South Asian
scholar, where he only used sound Hadees to substantiate what he was saying. So that's actually a very useful CRR. But there are many beautiful Sierra and my favorite is Cyril halaby. I don't know if you're aware of that one. But that's quite a stunning one. And then I love
the car called ro are all the owner of
which is by a great Moroccan scholar, and that all of our the, in Arabic, it's the ungrazed pastures. So he wanted to look at things that nobody had looked at before in this era. So it's quite beautiful. He's buried in Marrakech,
there's a question what are your thoughts about Mohammed's letters to the heads of states, Persians, Romans? How would they have perceived them? I'll let you answer that.
Well, I'm a little bit hobbled with that question, I have to say because my methodology is to really zero in on the Koran. And so those letters are extra Quranic and not not really part of my purview.
But as I said, that there are geopolitical statements in the Quran itself, most most famously in the sort of room and
where the Quran appears to favor the Romans over the sassanians. And the the stories about those letter later letters, you know, are consonant with that, with that verse.
You know, in the tradition that I studied, obviously, the the Persians
received it with much more grace and decorum than the Persian emperor who apparently you know, in our tradition says he ripped it up and yeah, when, when the Prophet was told that he said, mas Apollo,
you know, motorhome, Allah will tear his dominion up. Here's a question What inspired you Dr. Cole to write a book on the Prophet Mohammed Salah. It sounds like,
Oh, that's a long story. I don't know how much autobiography you want from me. But I'm from the 60s and I'm from that generation of American youth who were very upset about the Vietnam War and about the oppression of American minorities. And many of us became very interested in,
in world religions. And, and, you know, we were disappointed with our Christian preachers, often, who is now forgotten would often mount the pulpit in the mid 60s and praise the Vietnam War and pray for President Johnson to defeat the godless communists and so forth. And so, we it started us off looking at other things I would say. And so if you could find me when I was a teenager, there was a
new direction bookstore in San Francisco would put out these volumes of Gandhi and and about Hinduism and Buddhism and and and, and then Sufism, so I had lived as a teenager in Eritrea, which is about a third Muslim and had encountered Muslims. They were my friends and I'd seen mosques and and so when I got back to the states and got involved in the counterculture, I read a lot about Islam and
I there was a alternative
Have bookstore in Georgetown in Washington DC at the time I used to go down to and I got a copy of Abdullah Yusuf Ali's translation with the Arabic and the English. I still have it when I was very young and started reading in it. So it was that era of, you know, the 60s that got me interested. And
when we came back my family from Eritrea, we stopped off in Beirut, for what the army called rest and recreation. And when I was an undergraduate at Northwestern, I had an opportunity to go to Beirut for research project, and I started Arabic, and just started me on this path. And so I studied the zero with Marsden Jones, who is a great British scholars trained at the School of Oriental and African Studies, who edited the manuscripts of alacati for the first time and publish them. And he taught at the American University in Cairo and I studied with him early Islam, it was that old British you know, now we would say orientalist tradition, but it was very,
very attentive to detail. You had to have excellent Arabic. And so I,
you know, I got that training. And then I got pulled into modern affairs, but as time went on, and especially after September 11, I was very dismayed to see this text that I loved and and admired and had studied, you know, academically demeaned by by ignoramuses including on TV and by politicians. And then you had, you know, a rise of extremism in the Middle East itself, which I thought also was perverting the teachings of this book. I mean, they would quote half a verse. It's like the jokes the jaw has told about the misers that, you know, Allah Dina Yep, coluna is in the Quran, that the misers are condemned, but the misers themselves would just quote half of the Quran verse as though
it were praising them.
The extremists do the same thing. And so I had had this book in the back of my mind for a long time. And the events of the last two decades determined me that I must write it and
it was not an easy task, because I I wanted to do it as
a surgeon in an academic way that upheld academic standards of research and writing. But I also wanted to put my heart into it, and that's an awfully difficult task. And well, I think you did, and, and we're for the we're all for the better for it.
apparently one of Trumps President Trump's great heroes is General Patton. And, and I read patents biography which he never finished up the war. He wants to write this.
So it's really a lot of it's rough notes. But he begins it I think it's the first page maybe the second where he says he's on his way to Morocco. So as a preparation for that he read the Quran. So he says, it's, it's a it's in his it's like a diary, almost. But he says, just finished the poron a good book exclamation.
thought that was I thought that was fantastic. Yeah.
Okay, so where last question. Can can shed Hamza and Dr. Juan talk about how the prophets methods of Islam was to renovate the worldview of peace, rights and righteousness in a world that was full of wars. And I think that's at the heart of your book. So I'll give you an opportunity to answer that. Sure. Well, you know, I, my own belief is that the Prophet wanted to expand the realm of peace from Mecca, to reach everywhere. And I think, you know, the the first cluster of verses about peace in the Quran, if you read it chronologically,
is concerns paradise. And you know, if you're good and you go there, the angels greet you with peace. And then the other people who are already there greet you with peace, and then you all commune in peace. And there's one verse that suggests that the pinnacle of Paradise is when God addresses you with peace.
There's a lot of criticism of the poor man's vision of Paradise because you get really good food appearance.
at least symbolically but but but I think people haven't attended to the way that Paradise is depicted as a place where people practice peace. one verse says that they put aside their grudges, and you don't hear any level, which I take to mean, you know, abusive speech. And I think it's being put forward as a model
for how we should live down here that is not just a kind of anodyne description of the next world. But if that's how the righteous live in Paradise, then Shouldn't we try to emulate it shouldn't be at the center of our practices. Yeah. And this is being all put forward at precisely that time when the Iranian soldiers are massacring people in Jerusalem, not so far from Mecca, and and producing a great deal of terror in people's hearts. So I think that the the vision of the of the Koran is this expansion. And you know, I went back into the Sierra and I looked at how the profits sway expanded and had Jasmine if you think about it, he was invited into Medina.
And then they made the piece of who they BIA in 628 and he walked into Mecca, unopposed. According to the Quran, it's the Quran and Sunnah search of Fatah about, I believe about the acquiescence of Mecca says, God kept our hands from them and their hands from us that there was no, no fighting it at the heart of Mecca and around the Kaaba. And so Mecca acquiesced. And then tubbercurry says that those Iranian generals in, in Yemen, you know, had married local women, and they had children with them. And then they came to power, that they got interested in Islam. And they, that bothan,
the Senate, their leader,
And so Yemen fell without a shot. According
if you think about this, up and down the to hammer, the western coast of the Arabian Peninsula, by the time you get to the prophets death, much of that region had peacefully acquiesced in his message, the soft power of the Quran was so great. And I think the later of acid tradition, which wants to make the Prophet you know, a conquering warrior, and so forth, has maybe done us a disservice. Because if you look deeply into it, it doesn't seem that way. It's It seems as though from the Koran,
and some other accounts that Islam spread, initially, very peacefully throughout this region, and it established the conditions for further peace. And then, of course, the Iranians were defeated. And there was an opportunity to have a new sort of order which the succeeding generation of Muslims participated in erecting.
Yeah, wonderful, I think one of the most extraordinary there's a hadith in Sahih Bukhari which talks about the three foundational aspects of Islam but one of them which is really stunning in its expression is better was Salam Alaikum
to spread global peace and and that term Ireland is so strange to find in that
in that idiom, to spread global peace, like really, I think that is at the heart of our profits allies synonyms message. So it's quite ironic that there's a projection
on him by people that are very often war mongers. I mean, it's, it's, there's something very ironic about that, that they project onto him their own war mongering, and, and, and I think, john Carroll wrote a extraordinary book called the abode of war, which is really about our civilization. And what what struck me about the title is if you translated it into Arabic, it would be thought on how to write and and, and, and, and I think this is what we have to oppose is this belligerence of war. mongers who who really thrive on the commerce of war, as opposed to the Commerce of the benefits the common wheel because war only benefits those who who are in
the business of war.
And, and so I want to thank you for the time you've given us, I, you're somebody that I just have a really high regard for your scholarship for for the rigor that you bring to your scholarship.
And and, you know, there might be some things that that we would disagree on,
like the prophets illiteracy, although I know there's a difference of opinion about that Imam reportedly mentioned that shabby mentioned that he did learn to write. But the dominant opinion obviously is that that he was unlettered. And so that's the view that I hold. But I do understand how you could come to those conclusions.
In any case, I just I really want to thank you, Dr. Cole, and God bless you and, and
I hope we continue to have
opportunities to interact with you. I hope everybody watches Dr. Cole's wonderful Amir Stein video. That's a five minutes summation of his extraordinary book that I would highly recommend people reading I benefited greatly from it. And finally, I hope that people out there will support our 12,000 strong campaign
by signing up,
and whatever you can do to enable us to do these things. And we also have a fundraiser on we have a fundraiser on Sunday. So I hope you'll join us we're going to have a special message from the Prime Minister of Pakistan, we're going to have a special message from
convert to Islam and promoter of peace through his philanthropic work and through his music, his use of Islam or Cat Stevens. And then we're also going to have Dr. Thomas Hibbs, who is
a personal friend of mine somebody I respect very highly, quite brilliant ethicist, who's president of the University of Dallas, so I hope you all tune in for that and May Allah subhana wa Tada, bless all of you increase all of you elevate all of you may Allah subhanho wa Taala inshallah, forgive us for any shortcomings and anything that we might have said that was inappropriate mela subhana wa Tada.
Always correct our mistakes in our safe. And may we be raised with
the best of our intentions and nothing less. I mean, was a lot to say to Mohammed Ali wa sahbihi wa salaam, salaam alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. Thank you.
Thank you, Dr. Juan Cole and President Hamza Yusuf. And thank you to all of the attendees online. We hope you benefited from this event. And we look forward to your presence at the next two events in this series, the first of which is a very special benefit event in support of zaytuna College. It is titled manning the lighthouse in turbulent times and will take place this Sunday, October 25, at 5pm Pacific Standard Time. Join us again on the following Wednesday at 6:30pm. For a discussion of the Muslim poetic tradition by President Hamza Yusuf. You can find more details on our [email protected] thank you again, Mr. aliko