Channel: Hamza Yusuf
Topics: Comparative Religion
The recent tragic events in France once again bring to the forefront the age-old debate over government and the limits of allegiance. This episode examines the current crisis through the lens of our sacred texts, which harmonize the concepts of obedience, freedom, and the pursuit of justice.
Bismillah R Rahman Rahim wa Salalah aniseed in a Mohammedan will Allah Allah will slap you will send him to steam and a salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato Alhamdulillah. We're here again with a look at another sacred text message from our Lord. And Alhamdulillah this comes from Allah subhanho wa Taala his verse in Surah Nisa, when Allah who subhana wa tada says, Yeah, you have Latina men who will appear on La Hawa out there or Rosaura will only Amma remain calm. The internet is at home Vichy federal door Dongho Illa he will rustled it Allahu Allah Rasool e in goon manana Billa. He will Yama here that Rekha, Hiram us and otaku Isla. So this ayah, which is number 59 says, Oh you
who believe obey Allah, and obey the messenger, and also those who are put in command over your old armory, the people of armor, the people of command from amongst you, and if you should disagree about anything, take it back to Allah and the messenger, if you indeed believe in Allah and the Last Day, and that is the best and most appropriate way of understanding that we are interpretation. So in this verse, we are told to obey Allah and to obey the messenger, obeying Allah. And obeying the messenger means following the dictates that Allah subhanaw taala has given us through the Messenger of Allah, in either the Oran or in the agreed upon traditions of our prophets, a lot of them that
have some relationship to commands or prohibitions might attack Omarosa, who do whatever the profit brings, you take it, a Walmart and how often Tahoe and whatever he prohibits you from doing, don't do that, avoid it. So these are the basic commands and prohibitions that are in the Quran, what are called El amor, when Noah II and we are told to obey those, but then we're told to obey ulin Omri, and what's interesting in the verse is, it says up to Allah obey Allah and then it says up there rusada obey the Prophet, but then the wow there, which is a conjunction in English grammar, or heart of out in Arabic grammar, does not repeat the appear. In other words, the the verb, the command, the
imperative to obey. When it says una Emery, its motto for Allah Allah hawara soul. In other words, the conjunction takes it back to the obeying of Allah and the obeying of the messengers. So obedience to government authority is actually obedience to Allah in obedience to His Messenger, and less that government authority tells us to do something against
any moral injunction that we've been given. So for instance, we're told not to drink. So if the government says you have to drink, we don't obey the government, that point but everything else, we have to obey the government, and even to the point where, for instance, in some countries, now, you have to buy insurance, like car insurance if you're going to drive a car. And so our scholar said that that's the order because the government is imposing that upon you. So you have to buy it, even if you think that that's not permissible, because it's, it's a it's a, it's a necessity in that situation. And so that, that's removed, and that's the sorrowful
hakam, a ruler can impose certain things on a population like taxes if they're necessary, even though normally taxes are considered volume, in the Islamic tradition, so obeying the government is extremely important in our religion. If you look, in fact, in the tradition of Christianity, there's a very interesting verse in Romans 13, in which Paul actually tells the people that they have to obey governments. And the reason for that he makes very clear is that the government was set up by God, that is not different from what we actually believe. Because in our tradition, we do believe that
government is from God that God has
inspired people to have governments and it's a father of Allah subhanho wa Taala. And in fact, some of them are first your own in the verse where Allah subhanaw taala says, that had it not been for some people defending other people. Lola differ ness pada have evolved
Had it not been for some people defending other people, the festival armed, the whole earth would be corrupt. So some of them say that is the Muslims defending against the kuffaar. But others say no, it's actually government's the government's are instituted amongst people to prevent corruption and to prevent harm from coming. So then what happens when the government becomes harmful itself? Well, this is a very interesting conundrum. And and something that our scholars have Delve very deeply into. And it's certainly one of the problems in the modern world where a lot of people see these governments as oppressive and and they want to rebel against them.
But rebelling against governments very often creates far more harm than whatever the initial harm was from the government itself. And this is why Generally, the Aloma were very, very loath to either encourage rebellion or to sanction rebellion, they actually saw it as something very harmful and very dangerous, because they really saw the destruction. And so obeying laws is very important. Just being somebody who recognizes the actual necessity of living amongst people in accordance with the laws that have been instituted to ensure that people are able to live together and not aggress on one another. And so one of the most important things that we look at all the laws, they can be
reduced down to two basic fundamental concepts in law, one of them is basically do what you say you're going to do. And that's the whole basis of contractual law. So if you tell somebody that if you give me $100, I'll build a fence for you, and they give you $100, and then you don't build the fence? Well, you have basically
done something harmful to that person based on a contractual agreement that occurred between you and that person. And so that person then goes to the court. And in this case, it would probably be a small claims court, they would go on its and have a civil suit, where you say, I, here's the contract, he signed it, and he never built the fence, and then you get your $100 back, or that person builds the fence or whatever the court system does. The other thing in law is basically don't harm anybody, which is related, obviously, to the first one. But this is more tort law. is is is is criminal law, in other words, don't aggress on another human being. And so laws are basically there
to ensure that these two things will happen, that people fulfill their contracts and agreements, and people will not harm one another. That's really what laws are about now, in modern society, because our societies become so complex, governments have other functions like roads, and building bridges and, and delivering mail and things like that. But that that's where it gets complex. But if you actually look at the fundamental purpose of law, it's for those two things. And this is why obeying the law is so important now, when things happen that are deeply troubling to us. And I'll give you one example. Now, recently, there was a teacher I think, was high school teacher in France, who
showed some pictures and and said, ridiculously in my estimation, that these are pictures of the Prophet Muhammad Salah Sam, which of course they were not that that is absolutely impossible. Because one a cartoon is a ridiculous caricature, and and relates nothing to the original person. And two, people don't know what the prophets Eliza don't look like, because we have no pictures of him. Although we have very beautiful descriptions. We know he was the most handsome of human beings. We know. He had a beautiful face. We know he had beautiful eyes and beautiful wavy hair, we know that his face was closer to roundness of the moon than it was a more square, or a long face. We know
that he had beautiful white teeth. We know that he had very beautiful lips, and that he had a beautiful beard. And so all of those descriptions we do have in our books, but somebody who paints a picture and says this is the profit slice and I'm we reject that because we don't know of that now somebody is trying to disparage the profits allotted to them. By doing this, then obviously that's a very tragic and ignorant thing to do to to disparage anybody sacred beliefs is, is really it's just unacceptable in decent society. No decent human being would purposely desecrates
Something that others held sacred. And in fact the Quran actually prohibits us from doing that. When Allah subhanho wa Taala said was that so bolognia duralumin, Dune, Isla de su Bala, Edwin and do not curse the idols of those who call in other than a lot because they will curse, in turn Allah out of their ignorance. So before that the early Muslims used to denigrate the idols but then the Quran actually told them not to do that, because the loud darada whatever there are, do not harm but do not reciprocate harm. So when harm occurs, so in this case, this person obviously harmed our sensibilities, by attempting to denigrate our profits a lot. He said, I'm, that's harm but the
Prophet said do not reciprocate harm, in other words don't do more harm from harm. And this is where obeying laws becomes very important. Because Muslims are prohibited from taking the law into their own hands. We don't believe in vigilante justice. We actually believe that we have to obey the laws of the land that we're in. And in fact, even Abizaid Li Romani, in in, in his extensive book, not the famous reseller, but he has another book, which deals with rare,
it's 50 issues that were that were not found in,
in some of the earlier Maliki texts. But one of the things that he was asked was about people who go into the lands of the Europeans
under state permission.
Were they obliged to follow the laws? And he said, Absolutely, they had to follow all the laws of the land that they were in. And then he was asked, What if there was aggression upon them. And this is an amazing thing about our religion is the guidance. I mean, this man was in the fourth century. And yet the jurisprudential wisdom of these early Muslims was extraordinary. He said, If it was from the common people, then he is still bound by the law. But if it was from the government themselves, like if they had breached their contract, by giving him safe passage, and then aggressed upon him, then he was not bound by that. But he was bound by by the laws, as long as the government upheld
they're part of it. But if the common people aggressed upon him, that did not give him permission to break the law. So this is a very important distinction. So unfortunately, some zealous and we would call them zealous, Muslims feel that they're doing a good deed by taking the law into their own hands, they're actually they're actually disparaging our prophets, allies. And because for ignorant people, they'll think that this is the religion of Islam, that the religion of Islam is a lawless religion, that we don't believe in law. And that's an immense tragedy for people that need to live together. Now, the other thing, which is tragic in these type of situations, is that there's a
collectivization that happens, we'll begin to group people together into groups. And so suddenly, all the Muslims are a monolithic group. And all the French people are a monolithic group. And this fails to recognize the good people and distinguish them from other people. Now, there are certainly crude people, Bulgarian people in every culture, there's no culture that's exempt from this, it doesn't matter if it's the best culture in the world. Even in the Medina of the Prophet socialism, there were there were low people that were bad people. And that did some horrible things. So it's very important not to blanket
a group of people ever, we don't want it done to us, and we certainly should not do it to others. Now, I think that these Western governments really need to think deeply about people who know that they're going to get very strong reactions from groups of people. In in the,
in the English tradition, they have a saying, you know, let sleeping dogs lie. In other words, you know, if you see a sleeping dog, don't kick him or wake him up because he'll bite you. And we have a Hadeeth that I think is much more profound meaning is that a fitna to net in Mattoon
for Lana Lomond, I cover her that that civil strife is asleep. You know that communities are at peace. But there's always the potential of of awaking that strife up and suddenly people are fighting. When I was when I was young, there was a program people used to watch called The Twilight Zone. And there was a
There was there was one an incident on Maple Street. And it was basically were these, the, you know, these people, they just started messing with these people, these aliens, and suddenly the whole street was just fighting each other and killing each other. And and the one alien says the other this is these are the humans, like it's very easy to get them riled up. All we did was start messing with their technology, and suddenly they're all killing themselves. I mean, this is that was Rod Serling trying to wake up people about how easy it is to be manipulated. And I think we all have to ask ourselves, who's manipulating us, because without the Internet, and without the media, these
things would not be happening. And so whose agenda Are you under, there's a hadith and was the proposal I sent him said, Whoever fights under a
blind flag, men are to the data Riot and Mija were fined five fights under a blind flag, in other words, fighting under a flag that you don't know who's waving it.
And he dies, he dies a jalahalli death, he dies a death of the ignorant ones of the people before Islam, that Muslims should always that you should not be part of somebody else's agenda, you should not allow yourself to be manipulated, you should not allow yourself to be controlled. The only one that should be able to push your buttons is Allah and His Messenger, and nobody else.
In other words, alone is messenger should activate you. And and not allowing other people to activate humans. And so we have a huge problem in our community. And, and I understand the sentiment, like there are cultures in this world, that if you say something about somebody's mother, they will actually harm you. And, and I was once in Spain, and there was a situation because I lived in Granada. And there was a situation in Spain where somebody had cursed somebody's mother and he's he stabbed the person. And there were witnesses to this, the judge actually let this person off with a pretty lenient sentence.
Because there was an understanding that culturally what that man did, by doing that was arousing a kind of anger in this person that that took over him. It was like a possession. And so one of the things about, I think that Western people need to understand is that if you call a black person, the N word, and then that person punches you, or maybe even worse,
who has really caused that? I mean, one could say, yeah, we would like this person to control their, their anger. And certainly that would be the approach that somebody like Martin Luther King would have encouraged a type of stoicism, which enables you, but one has to ask oneself in all sincerity, like who caused that? Now, racial identity in this culture and in France, if you call somebody a racial slur, it's unacceptable. The society won't accept it, you'll lose your job, you'll be taken, you know, you'll be canceled.
Why is it that we allow people to say the worst things about other people's religions, and we don't have the same sensibilities, we call it freedom of speech, one has to really question that because a person's religious identity is so much more fundamentally profound than their racial identity, when you truly believe in something so deeply that you're willing to die for it. That is real identity. And so when you take somebody's most sacred belief, and you spit on it,
those people are going to get upset. And I'm saying I don't like what I've seen, it really troubles me and I, and I, and I really, it's a tragic event. All around. It's tragic for the man that perpetrated it, because his life now is ruined. But it's certainly tragic. For the man who lost his life. irrespective of what he did, he might not have even believed he just believed in freedom of speech. Because when I went to Denmark after the, the,
the cartoons, one of the things that I found is that the Danish people were actually they didn't like the fact that they printed those cartoons, but they believed in the right of that person to do it. And this gets to something very deep in in Western culture and civilization, this idea of freedom of speech, America has one of the strongest because of the First Amendment has one of the strongest
laws advocating for freedom of speech. So in Europe, actually, for instance, denying the Holocaust in some countries is illegal, not in Denmark, but it is in Germany, for instance, or France, so and people can get arrested. So I think it's very important for us
Even if these ignorant people do do these things, the society should be against it, they should see it in the same light that they see racial denigration, because denigrating somebody's religious identity, and I'm talking about mockery and making fun of them and calling. They're the people they love best, calling them horrible names. It's no, and we're not in any way. I'm personally not in any way saying people should not have the right to criticize, they should not have the right to say I don't believe in Islam, and here's why. That's certainly within their prerogative to do that, but to denigrate, to mock, to draw pictures, insinuating somehow that this has anything to do with the most
sacred beliefs of another people. I think this is a deeply troubling
trend in this culture to give people any support for doing this. And to be proud of this. I think it's shameful. And even in in, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In article 29, if you look at the declaration, it's very clear that that public order that public order should be maintained. And and people that do things that upset the public order, governments have a right to, to prosecute them. And so we have to, I think, we have to think deeply about these things. And but I'm really,
I feel so sad when I see Muslims, breaking the law so blatantly, when we're a culture that believes deeply in lawfulness, and that Allah subhana wa tada is with the lawful laws, not with the unlawful that when you break the law, you you in in essence, break a bond with your Lord, and even the laws of the land, that are by and large, rational laws, and they come out of human reason, some of them come out of a natural law, most of these laws concur entirely with the Sharia of Islam. I mean, the vast majority of laws that we're told to obey, here in the West, are our laws that really do concur with with our tradition and our religion. And, and but whether they concur or not, if we are in
these lands, by the Sharia of our profits a lot, isn't it that was given to him, we believe by our Lord, we are obliged to obey the laws of these lands, and to in any way undermine those laws, is to undermine the legitimacy of being allowed to stay in these countries. Because if you break those laws, agree justly. And purposefully, then the place for you is is is jail. That's, that's where you belong. And it's as simple as that. And so, I just want to read very quickly.
Something from this one of my favorite books, and it was a book, I think that cured me in a lot of ways after I read it from
just a lot some of the misunderstandings that I had about government about the place of governments called sirajul MOOC, and it was written by a man who was very far from governments. He really had nothing to do with governments. But his name was Abu Bakar, Mohammed bin alwaleed bin Mohammed Toshi al Maliki. And he lived in the late. He was born in the middle of the fifth century, and died in in 502. So he did not live long. He just live 51 years. But he was he was the teacher of one of the great maleki scholars, audio worker Ibn Al Arabi. And he was somebody I actually out of love of this book, I asked
my, my dear friend,
Chef Ahmed, who runs door on min hedge, if he would, if he would publish it, and he actually published a critical edition of it.
My recommendation and so I actually have a beautiful addition that they did, but it's really one of the finest books on government that our civilization ever produced. But he says in there, that you should know that government is from a great wisdom from our Lord. And it's a great NEMA. It's a great blessing on
on the servants of who live in the world. And he says Leon Allah to add a Shibboleth NT SOF, because Allah has,
he has really put into creation this this, this love of,
of vengeance, or or or really getting back a vengeance Rawls the great
political scientists of late to mid and late 20th century john Rawls said that that vengeance was a type of wild justice. It was wild justice when you take revenge. And I think revenge movies do very well, because people in some way they really want revenge. It's part of our human nature. But so he says basically, that this, this human aspect of people this empty, soft, this desire for intercom to get back at people who have wronged you, well, Adam and in SOF, and, and a lack of fairness, because you don't want it for yourself. You want it for others. And and this is why everybody asked for justice for other people, but with themselves they want mercy. Right. But everybody wants justice
for other people. Like nobody, as far as I can tell, unless they were not well, mentally. Nobody on the day of alpha in Mecca, or just outside of Mecca is praying, oh, God be just with me. I don't think any Muslim asked for that prayer. And to call down justice on the world, I think is to call down the wrath of God.
It I really believe that because a lot of what's happening on the world is actually from God's justice. But fortunately, there's more mercy than there is above. And there is wrath, because the wrath of God is His justice. It comes from from the attribute of His justice, whereas mercy that comes from Allah subhana wa, tada, his love of his creation. And so, personally, that's what I want. So he says that, because of this habit into software, either millions of well method OMB wrestled on when there is no government authority method, well, hood filma they're like fish in the ocean, and the Mauritanian say who to blame route. One fish, eats another fish. That's what happens when
there's no government. It's just fish in an ocean. So the sharks and and and the killer whales, they rule and the guppies they're their lunch. So this is it. So when you when, when you when you don't have governments, you just have the big people wreaking havoc on the little people. Now, some people will say, well, that's what we have now. Well, that's partly true. But because we live in a civil society, there are ways of there's upward mobility, there's ways of redressing wrongs. There's ways of looking at these things that that we often don't think enough about. So he says, He attended and Kabira severe, the big fish, it's the little fish for metronomy akula, home salt pan pie here,
whenever there's no overwhelming government, lemon pub emla, home armor, there won't be any civil society in in any organized sense, their affairs are not well organized. Well, let me stop them lahoma ash, and their livelihoods will never be sustained.
I mean, this this is this is this is what it is. And this is why he says some of the ancient said, load of your soul Pon mineral art, McCann, Allahu Allah, Ottoman hajra. If you remove government from the earth, God has no need of the people on the earth. In other words, that their their ability to fulfill their functions that Allah intended for them, is done through government through the organization of societies. Once you remove that, you're in anarchie. And, and people say, Oh, well, primitive people. primitive people are very interesting. I lived with Aboriginal peoples, and they're very fascinating people. And but in primitive societies, you have in groups and out groups,
and many, many primitive societies, it was tribes warring against other tribes. If you study American history, I would just look up the Lakota, Pawnee wars. I mean, there were many, many wars amongst Native Americans. They weren't anywhere as brutal as a lot of the civilizations where they do wars, but it wasn't it was like they were all living together peacefully. No, if you encroached upon another people's land, they would they would fight back. I mean, I was once on a panel and, and talking about the right of property is this idea that that property is is is one of the six sacred universals in the Islamic tradition and the Islam protects property. And and this this person said,
you this is a Eurocentric worldview. And primitive people don't have don't have concepts of property. And it really made me laugh because I just said, Look, I lived with Beto
When people and
if you go into a veteran's tent and try to take something that's his, trust me, they have a very profound sense of property. If you're from the same tribe, then they might let you borrow it knowing that you'll bring it back. But if you're from another tribe, no even watering if you bring your animals to graze into their lands, or Native Americans if you went into their hunting grounds from another tribe without their permission, that was cause for war amongst the tribe. So this idea that they didn't have private property is a lie. They didn't have it in the same way that societies that have contracts and write things and have deeds and titles and all these things. That's true. But the
Palestinians, they all their land was deeded, they all knew who owned what they weren't primitive peoples went when, when they were colonized the Palestinians had in fact, the Ottomans kept extraordinary, bureaucratic
files on everything. They knew every piece of land in Palestine, who owned it, what family how long they'd had it, who had it before them. For four centuries, this was well known. So Bedouin, that's true, but Bedouin have their lands. So a Bedouin tribes lands are well known, and they're demarcated, and they know what's theirs. And if you aggress upon them, they'll aggress upon you. And that's, that's part of it. And so, this idea of government is really, really important and,
and, and that's why we should feel blessed when we live in government. And this is why
one of the things that of a buck or two she says is that when you when when when the government has corruption in it, it affects everybody, but he says Willow Jor el Luma Sorbonne holan thi kifah the majority the facade or re at will lol Maha Maharaja home FISA at an EDA tele amoroso pansy kifah can a harder to set an Alabama or Georgia in Boone muscle pan Hola. So he says if you take one year of the oppression of a government on its people and put it in one side of a scale, and then you put the the corruption of the population and their oppression and their rioting in just one hour. It would outweigh the lawn of that government in the whole year. That's what he says what kind of harsh are
certain of them, it's greater. And Syrah here really means a moment of loss. It's not really even an hour, an Arab say upon them and so he got up immediately. So here and that's why the last hour is really the last moment because when the sack comes, that's it it's really a moment. So and then EMA matica Delano and Favell internet yard and others said Giotto, certina center Hiram in Hershey center,
that 60 years of oppression is better than a year of rioting. 60 years of oppression is better than a year of writing. I didn't say that. This was said by our sages, EMA Matic said that soltanto has shown Hiraman fitness center dome, that a oppressive leader is better than civil strife that keeps going. And if you ask the people in countries where it's all broken down, and you don't have governments, they, I guarantee you, the vast majority of them say they wish the government that was overthrown was back. Because there was order and people could live when you lose order. It's horrible. And I don't think people realize how fragile civilization is. It's a very fragile thing.
So we should be blessed and feel blessed to have government and our government has a lot to be desired. And and unfortunately, terrible things have been done. In my lifetime, I've seen horrible things done. I've seen people bombed,
that did not deserve anything like that. And, and just many, many injustices in my life. But But I've also been in places where it's broken down. And I've been in places also where you could be arbitrarily taken. And I was I was, I was arrested a few times and without any recourse to anything. And so when you're in a country where if you get arrested, you can actually get a lawyer. And and I mean, that is a great blessing. Hey behavious corpus I don't think people realize just the blessing of Anglo Saxon law, this idea of habeas corpus, you know, show me the body like the body of evidence, like why am I being arrested? Why am I being incarcerated and unfortunately, of late, you
know, we have
Some horrible things. But one of the powerful things about our system is that there are advocates that attempt to redress the wrongs. And so there are wrongs and this is the nature of the dunya. Because the Abode is an abode of boom, by its very nature, this abode will always have oppression, you can't get out of it. And that's why Allah says level milliohm there's no oppression on the Day of Judgment is over. Everybody's going to get, hopefully not what we deserve.
I mean, I'm hoping that we get the mercy of God because if we get what we deserve, we're all finished.
And that's why we shouldn't want justice on the Day of Judgment. We should really want forgiveness and the prophets Allah SM said Monday or hum lay or hum if you don't show mercy, no mercy will be shown to you.
And that is not to in any way belittle justice and the importance of justice. I believe in justice. And and anybody that says otherwise is a liar. But But I really do believe that the emphasis of our religion is not on justice.
It's on mercy. And that's why the Quran does not begin Bismillah al Adam and mon tuck him in the name of God that just the avenger of wrongs it begins Bismillah R Rahman r Rahim In the Name of Allah, the Merciful compassion
acetamide como rahmatullah wa barakato