Sacred Text Messages S01 E04 – From the Cradle to the Grave

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Hamza Yusuf

Channel: Hamza Yusuf

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Episode Notes

Since the dawn of our species, the pursuit of knowledge can be found at the core of the human endeavor, and the greatest of all knowledge leads inevitably to the divine. In this episode, Hamza Yusuf discusses the centrality of knowledge in the prophetic tradition, why we pursue it, and the role of the scholars as inheritors and guardians of this path to God.

Episode Transcript

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Bismillah R Rahman Rahim or Salatu was Salam ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa ala alihi wa sahbihi wa sallam to snoo McCarthy era Alhamdulillah. We're here again with another session on sacred text messages. And looking at a very important text that comes from our Prophet sallallahu sallam, in which he told us that this Hadees was related by Mr. odo than Mr. tirmidhi Abu Dawood and emammal. tirmidhi are two of the great collectors of Hadees from the six famous are what they call English canonical collections. Go to the sit or the SAS. I will download it said that when he went to came into Iraq to relate had it, there were 70,000 inkwells in the masjid 70,000 that's how extraordinary

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he was. He was like many of them. Why don't he was from persianate part of the Muslim world. But he relates a hadith and he Mama tirmidhi from Abu Dhabi.

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And Dada for people that are interested in Arabic. Dada is the girl without teeth. So the ad read, which is a nice, the dentals D is from the dentals You know, they're called it's a dental in the linguistics so does the one without teeth. so far is similar to Rasulullah sallallahu wasallam Jaco mencetak of Perea, WV here, Elma circolo will be here today open Elon Jenna, which means whoever sets out on a path and sudo is a term that they used for a spiritual path also, but whoever sets out on a path seeking knowledge and their inmon here is Nick era. It's not a lane. It's a enma who seeks a knowledge because there are many types of knowledge and there are many knowledges that are formed

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key via like engineering or medicine. So this could include if there Nia was sound, then it would include their intention being sound, it would include other knowledges and then the province of isonem, was reported to have said sadhika lobi, he bought a personal agenda that Allah will facilitate him a path to paradise. So seeking knowledge is a path to paradise. What a nail mela he had, the tobacco engineer had to hurry up and the Apollo below him and even the angels lay down their wings out of contentment for the seeker of knowledge audible in the seeker of knowledge we're in an early Malaya style funeral home for summer Why do you remember Arthur had tell he turn off and

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Matt. And verily the scholar is one who the everything in the heavens and the earth, even the the fish in the ocean, ask forgiveness for a scholar, which is an extraordinary the fact that they're asking forgiveness because scholars are human, so they'll always have shortcomings and but because they're so important, they're asking is still far for them so that Allah forgives them. It's really extraordinary that he chose layer stuff futile. You know, they're asking forgiveness for him. So imagine if the angels and even the whales in the ocean are asking forgiveness is a login or forgive the scholar. It's quite stunning, really. And then the prophets Allah sent him said, well father,

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Allah, Allah May Allah Allah Abbe De Luca favela, Amartya Sen collected and the preference of the scholar over the devotee and the abbot is is somebody who their practice is not so much knowledge based as it is devotional. So these are people that very often they don't have a lot now they have to have far behind, but they get enough knowledge to suffice them in their religion. And then their focus is on devotion, which is really important and there are people that that's their path to Allah subhanho wa Taala but the scholars preference over those in another Hadith the Prophet Li said, I'm said that it's like the preference of me over the least of you. So is this is a huge difference. And

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the moon is very important in terms of the heavenly bodies because the moon, we have our calendrical measurements by the moon, we have the moon to guide us and many, many other things, also the relationship to the moon and the tides. These are all aspects of the importance of the moon. In fact, arguably, scientists would say without the moon there wouldn't be life on Earth as we know it. So the moon is a very important part of our solar system and particularly for us so the prophets Allah said and then said in a llama what I thought will MBA the scholars are the inheritors of profits in MBA alum your web repo dinar on what Dharma the scholars did not leave behind as a

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legacy. gold or silver dinars are gold and Durham is silver into my walrath. Who will him

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But they left behind knowledge from an aha aha to be held in Westfield. And there's a story that Abu huraira told the people in the marketplace that the prophets, inheritance was being distributed in the masjid and everybody ran from the marketplace. And when they got there, there were held up a vicar. There was a circles of knowledge. And they were saying, where's the inheritance is that it's in these circles. This is what the prophets leave behind. So that's a really important Hadith because one, it focuses on the fact that the past agenda that Allah will facilitate for you is the path of knowledge. And the prophets, Allah. He said, I'm said in them or Boris tomorrow alima, I was

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only sent as a teacher. So he is a teacher. And then he was taught I lemma, who should de la kuwa. So the prophets Allah is him himself was a student of a teacher who is less than him. And very often, teachers will have students that end up being greater than them, more brilliant, produce more. So that's not unusual in the worldly realm, but in the other worldly realm. edumedia Ali said, I'm taught the Prophet size and the Prophet was above him in stature. So this is our prophesies, and he was a teacher. And he spent his life teaching what we have really, if you look at all the Heidi's they're all teaching Hades, and his Sierra is all lessons. And then he brought the Quran, which is

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the greatest teacher for us, because it's the words of Allah subhana wa Tada. And so seeking knowledge is really important. And this should be done for the sake of Allah subhanho wa Taala. The prophets Allah sent him said that one of the signs of the latter days is that people would seek knowledge for other than the sake of Allah. In other words, they would pursue for worldly reasons, and not for other worldly reasons. And this is when you lose the Theo centricity of a culture. So our civilization was very theocentric. It was centered around the divine and the sacred. And that's why everything they did was infused with the sacred, they began all of their projects, Bismillah,

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and the amazing Hadith that many, many books of our scholars mentioned, the Hadees, that whatever does not begin Bismillah is cut off from blessing. Now think about like, who started the internet, think about who started all these things, who was the first person to work out rocket fuel, all these things were started without Bismillah. Whereas the Islamic civilization was a civilization where all of the sciences were done Bismillah all of their books started Bismillah. And so there was so much Baraka when you look at this civilization, which undeniably has great achievements. But look at the overall effects of it, we have to wonder, because so many things that come out of these

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inventions and these things, we see the downside, the negative side, so it's really important for Muslims to remember that we are theocentric. And I would argue that the Christians before this period, this very materialistic period, they also were people that did begin things In the name of Allah. So they did say, you know, they would make prayers to God and things like that. And so I'm sure they got a portion of that, in doing that, but people that are materialistic or atheistic, which many of these modern scientists are, you have to wonder. And one of the things that really struck me about the when I was a student studying about Vietnam and reading about the napalm, I just

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thought about what kind of a human being could develop, napalm, like a weapon that burnt the skin off of people, I just, I really had a really hard time grappling with that just as a normal human being, like, I could not imagine some, but then what really bothered me was the villagers, they started putting these ponds in the villages, they would dig pits to put water because they found out that if you jumped in, it would stop the effects of the napalm. So somebody here probably in like, somewhere like New Jersey in some lab, worked out waterproof napalm. I mean, who would do that? It's just very strange. And the prophets I sent him said only Allah can use fire to punish. So it's a

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horrible thing for human beings. You just wonder those scientists go home and have dinner and they have their wives and their families. It's very strange, but I just wonder what's going to happen to them in the afterlife. But all those things happen because people don't are no longer theocentric. And I think a lot of the crisis in the Muslim world is being affected by this deep materiality, this materialism that has overwhelmed the Muslims. So where do we begin? Well, we begin at the beginning, and the beginning, is language. So this is where everything begins. And that's why the first thing that a child does after it really learns to crawl and begin to walk. It learns to talk and it's very

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interesting that it begins to crawl and walk before it can really talk. All it does is it

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These sounds that are we would call a type of gibberish, which comes from Jabba even hayyan. Because the Europeans couldn't understand him. So they called everything that they couldn't understand gibberish. In other words from Java, that's a true etymology. So the child learns to walk because walking is a purposeful activity. And human beings are purposeful. And so somebody said, and I think rightly so that God had children learn before walk before they could talk, because if it wasn't that way, every time they tried to walk, people say, Oh, you give it up, you'll never get it, you know, so but a child just keeps doing it keeps attempting to walk and get up. And it's amazing. It's

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purposeful. When you look at this thing about the body of being on the body, walking Allah subhana wa tada when he describes the servants of the rock, man, a battle Rahmani ladina, yam Shona, an RD honer. They walk, what is walking, walking is intentional. When you walk, you are exercising your will, it's a pure act of the will. And that's why children is the first thing they do. So setting out on a path is intentional, you are walking. And this is why one of the most amazing things about Arabic because I was looking at you know, the prophet SAW, I said him, he said, a ride to Lake level, the ride does not lie to his own people, his own family, the ride is the one who sent out to

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look for water. And this was very important in the Sahara, or the desert or Arabia to look for water. So the riot was the one who set out to look for water, once he finds the water, he becomes a delille. So setting out on the path you are setting out on shediac is a literally an Arabic shediac means a road to water. And this is the life giving water that God has sent down from the heavens, just like he sends water from the heavens, he sent revelation from heaven. So this is the life giving water. So the Shetty is a path to water. Now look at this, I saw in one of the CD, Amazon rocks book the word ltr. And I want to look up against the root of it urayasu radhiya root means to

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walk around, it's like looking for something. So the RA is the one who walks around looking for he's looking for water and the Arabs are away then go deliberately. And also they say pull out a road, you know he's walking deliberately. So road, I wonder if road in English is from road, you know, because road is the path that you walk on. And so the raw ID is searching for something. And this is what human beings are we are searchers, we're constantly search children are always looking around, they're picking up rocks, they're looking under rocks, they're investigating constantly to hold it in arises or a proof that a search for cause is fundamental to the human intellect is he said you

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can take a child before it is often when it's still in that just an infant that can't even talk. And he said if you hide and throw like a rock over its head, and it lands in front of it, it will look behind it to see where it came from. It doesn't just assume it appeared into existence, because this is the filter of human beings. And so when we look at the universe, even a child knows that there has to be an origin of something. So this is the road that we're on setting up for knowledge. So where does it begin? It begins with language. And this is why we have to acquire language, our profits allies, and it was the most eloquent of people. Where did he go? When abubaker said to him

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or the lion when he said to him, that he was the most eloquent of people that spoke with the language of Bob and the Arabs called their tongue, the no huddle board. It was a difficult letter to say and it was unique to the Arabs, the prophet said Bader and you're partially right to feed Ben is sad because I am operation and I was raised amongst Banu sad, but no sad. We're from the house and Arabs. They're one of the eloquent tribes of the Arabs. So he was sent to learn the eloquence of that tribe. What's fascinating to me is he didn't say well, that's the way God made me know, he gave the sociological explanations for his eloquence. He said I'm Qureshi and I grew up amidst the most

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eloquent of the desert Arabs because they had a pure Arabic And if you look at the hadith of Halima Saudia, when you look at those Hadees of hers, they're very difficult Hadees because she's using all these difficult words all her Hadees that she related, need a dictionary, and that's who the province of Assam God His words from frost, the great American poet said that all of life begins with discipline and the first discipline is the acquisition of words. montane, the French philosopher said most of the world's problems are grammatical, that is not an insignificant statement. Nietzsche, the German philosopher said that I'm afraid we haven't gotten

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Word of God because we still believe in grammar. And one of the fascinating things to me about the Islamic civilization is they were obsessed with grammar, they were obsessed with our civilization gave us the first real dictionaries, the Jewish tradition got dictionaries from us before the Muslims, they did not have their dictionaries, the European dictionaries came very late. I mean, if you look in English, we don't have dictionaries from the time of Shakespeare. So some of the words we have to guess at them, Johnson's dictionary, which is 18th century, it's late. And that's the first serious dictionary. And it's not anywhere near as scientific as our dictionaries. When you

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look at something like a line, which shows up very early on hollyland fahidi, which shows up very early eight century they're already writing dictionaries. So this obsession with language was because they understood that revelation is in language, and they wanted to understand language. So the first thing that we have to acquire is language. And a lot of us use words elastically, we don't really use words with a sound knowledge. And the way that you define things is by learning logic. And so these were the two really, really foundational sciences in the Muslim oma, it was grammar and then logic, you first learned grammar, and then you learn logic and logic is the grammar of thought.

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So just as grammar is the logic of language, it shows you how language works. That logic is the grammar of thought it teaches you how to think one of the really foundational texts of the late Islam. I mean, this is the last few 100 years is a book called The Salaam. He was only 21 years old when he wrote it up the Ramayana Aha, but he is one of the great scholars on busca, which is now in Algeria. But he wrote this little text, and it's basically a versification of a famous text by periphery called the ISA goji, which was an introduction to logic. But he says in that, that when holo feature was initially avadi be here at a third party. There's a difference of opinion about

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occupying yourself with logic. And there are three different opinions for even on Salahi when Noah we heard a rumor about upon young Buffy and your mama, and even though Sara and Imam know what we he says, No, are we for the beat? haram are they considered it prohibited will caught up Omen, young Buffy angioedema, and another group said no, you have to know it. What outta 10 Matura Tosa. He has Java who he cannot carry her. And the sound his opinion is the one who is capable of understanding it should study it more Marisa suniti would kitabi the TDV era swaby the one who's practicing the book and the sooner so that they can be guided to what sound and this is why he mama because it was

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the one who introduced logic into the methodology of the also the scholars he actually in his famous book called staska. The first 40 pages are an introduction to logic. And this is also what he introduced into the way of the motocaddy mean also. So these become very important tools. In our tradition. This argument that logic is prohibited is as far as I'm concerned. It's really something that's very dangerous. Because when you mom, no we said that it was haram he was talking about a type of philosophy. Because at that time, logic was not separate from philosophy. It was actually studied as part of the peripatetic tradition. And they were worried about people going astray. With

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this. That's why they prohibited it had nothing to do with the actual subject itself. It had to do with the people that were teaching it and the methodology with which it was taught. But Mr. Rosati who mastered, even seen his work on logic and then basically began to use it in his methodological approach, it becomes very important, and this is why our scholars always said I'll tell you some in what's currently called Saudi Arabia, in Medina, that there's a university there, which was started in the 1960s to teach Islam to not just the Saudis, but internationally, but it focused on a certain school within Islam, which is the Salafi school now, the Salafi school originally was a Humphrey

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School, and there's a long history of how they became they departed from the madhhab tradition, because the early people they're called wahabis. They don't like to be called Wahhabi, but these people traditionally were hand buddies, but they had a 30 Creed. And they did not like a speculative qalam they didn't like any of the Ashanti or the metodi tradition, but they had a great Mauritanian teacher there. Muhammad Amina Shem Kielty, who I was fortunate enough to actually have studied with his son and heard many stories about him. I lived in his house or a time when I was in Medina. So my mother munition fealty adopted he left the Mauritanian men hatch and adopted the men hatch there. He

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was a brilliant scholar and he wrote a famous Tafseer called Odwalla ban, but because he was a master of all solar

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And especially of the authority tradition, which is based on him America's daddy's work, because even though Kodama who wrote wrote the novel, which is the soli textbook of the Hanbury school, it's basically an abridgment of Mr. Marquez and is also so to learn it without logic, which made it much more difficult. So he actually wrote because they considered at that time, it was prohibited to teach logic. He wrote a logic book for Medina University, but changed all the he called it a double bath, one manava. So he put all the logic in it, which is another science, double bathroom and other which is related to logic. But he actually taught them logic without calling it logic, because he

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knew how beneficial it was. So this idea that some Muslims have that they shouldn't use logic, it's just really, it's just not, it's not healthy. Because part of the crisis that we're in is people aren't thinking clearly, thinking and feeling are two ways in which human beings experience we think things through and we feel things and feelings are very important. But feelings should never override thinking, when you're dealing with momentous matters. Feelings are much more important in things like love, like you don't have an intellectual relationship with the one you love. I mean, you could that could be part of the relationship. But that relationship that's founded in more than

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muhabba, that's not intellectual, that's something related to the emotions, it's, and it's very different. So thinking and feeling can become confused, and people and one of the things that logic teaches you is to check your feelings, and to become more objective and approaching things. And also because in what's known as material logic, which looks at, you know, what, in here's inside, thought, in material logic, you're actually taught the fallacies. So there's things for instance, there's fallacies like collectivizing, it's, it's very common for people to make hasty generalizations. So if you have a bad experience that say, you go to New York, and you have three

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cab drivers, all from the same country, they're immigrants, and they cheat you all three of them. And then you just assume all people from that country are thieves, that's crazy to do that, because you're going to buy stereotyping people, you're going to wrong people from that country that aren't cheaters or thieves. And then the other thing is to look at it that maybe they didn't cheat you. I mean, you might be wrong about that. That's David Foster Wallace, his approach in this is water, that sometimes what we think is going on is out not actually going on, it's in our minds. So these are aspects of our tradition that have been neglected for too long. And we really need to revive

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them, we need to revive the centrality of grammar. And we also need to revive again, logic. And I will say in conclusion that my own my great grandmother, which I inherited her logic book from my father, she studied logic as a high school student in black falls, Wisconsin. So it wasn't that long ago that that just high school students were being taught this. And I think part of the problem that we're suffering from in the United States is just a lack of reasoning skills, to think things through and to think deeply about things. And we need these tools. And they are tools, their instruments, and we live in what was traditionally termed a republic, which is representational

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government. And Montesquieu, the great French political scientist and philosopher. He said that different governments have fundamental virtues. And he said that the virtue of a monarchy is honor. Like that's the virtue of them a monarchy like that. They're meant to be honorable noblesse oblige. You know, it's nobility obliges you to be honorable and noble. And then he said, at democracy, like when you have a dictatorship, the fundamental component in a dictatorship is fear. You can't have a dictatorship without fear. You can't have a friendly tyrant, he has to scare people, or it doesn't work. But he said that virtue are the hallmark of a Republic was education, you could not have a

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republic without an education. And they say that Ben Franklin, when he came out of the Continental Congress, they asked him what kind of government do you have, he said, a republic if you can keep it, meaning that it's a tough government to hold on to, because it needs educated people. And the more educated people are, the more self governing they are, the less self governing people are, the more necessary it is to bring in force to control them. And this is how tyrants end up, taking over. They take over when things begin to break down. And in fact, in Aristotle's what follows a Republic is what he called a democracy, which was the rule of the mob, the demos, and then the next thing

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that follows is a tyranny, because the mob gets out of hand and rebels

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Constantly and tears down things and, and then the tyrant comes in to set order straight. That's quite tragic. And then it begins to repeat itself these patterns. So this is the human condition. But for us as Muslims, the human condition

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doesn't change the more it changes, the more it stays the same. There are cycles, these are cycles in history and even while doing identified them, and they really do. They don't repeat themselves exactly, but they're patterns that are discernible, and that's what's important to note. But always in the midst of this no matter where you are, no matter who you are, no matter what your conditions are, you can always turn to Allah subhanho wa Taala and the best way to turn to him is to set out to know Him through knowledge