Channel: Hamza Yusuf
The Digital Age has provided unprecedented convenience in communication and information sharing; it has also allowed for critics and self-proclaimed experts to share their unsolicited opinions and rebukes without censor or recourse. What do our sacred texts say about the rules of criticism and argumentation? God reminds us in the Quran: “Say, ‘How can those who know be equal to those who do not know?’ Only those who have understanding will take heed.” In this episode, Shaykh Hamza discusses the modern phenomenon of public attacks and criticism and its poisonous effect on society.
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spin out on Rahim wa Salatu was Salam ala Sayyidina Muhammad Ali, he was happy with this Nima Alhamdulillah. Allah brahmana Salam Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. First of all, I want to thank people for coming back to this I apologize for
being absent the last few weeks I was going to try to get some out but I was became really intensely engaged in some work at zaytuna College. So today I wanted to look at a sacred text message. Allah subhana wa tada mentions in the mail follow him and that he alone on that or that those who have hatia or this all of God are the lemma. And Allah subhana wa tada reminds us to ask the people of knowledge if we don't know. And also how do you still your lithonia damona will lead in Allah, Allah moon, are they equal those who know and those who don't know? And so it's central in our faith, this idea of knowledge and we were commanded by our Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, to seek
knowledge to seek knowledge. In weak narrations, it mentions from the cradle to the grave, even the bar mentions a report that the Prophet slice m said, seek knowledge even under China, which,
irrespective of the senate The meaning is certainly true, the province is encouraged seeking knowledge he mentioned that the indo Europeans if there was knowledge on Pleiades, that they would attempt to get that knowledge through space travel even. So there's the the idea of seeking knowledge is very important and even imagine, and remember the bay harpy and others relate Heidi's about seeking knowledge. And one of them one of the most famous ones is thought of an inferior but to an adequately Muslim, that seeking knowledge is an obligation on every Muslim. And then in the, the larger the Hadith, which is a mod Raj Hadith is something that the Rao he adds the person that's
narrating it adds
for clarification. And so the raw we added on the narrator added on to that one more sliema just so that people would not interpret that to mean the males only that knowledge is incumbent on the male and the female. But one of the most important things in our tradition also is this idea of honoring the people of knowledge of honoring scholars and scholarship and recognizing because as human beings, what what distinguishes us from all of the rest of creation is knowledge that we are distinguished by knowledge. It's, it's what makes us different animals have all of the other aspects of our nature so animals eat, they can eat more than we can animals procreate. They can procreate
more than we can. Animals can lift things, they can build things beavers build dams, bees, builds hot build hives, ants build ant hills that are actually called Aria in Arabic, Aria to nemen, the city of the ants, so and they're, they're quite intricate in that. So animals do all of these different things. But what can't, what can't they do that we can do? They they can't reason and they can't abstract. As far as we know. There's no other creature outside of the jinn on this planet that abstracts and so because of that the highest knowledge is are the most abstract knowledge. And the most abstract of all knowledge is his knowledge of god of metaphysics. So
honoring scholars is really important on in our tradition. So I wanted to just look at this aspect of our tradition. One of the things that even on MOBOTIX said, was, and he's one of the great
scholars of the third generation, he was a student of emo Malik, and a teacher in his own rights.
But he said Mustapha, Bella rula he, the habit of hirato whoever makes light of the scholars loses his afterlife. Woman estafa Amara, he The Hobbit dunya Whoa. And those who make light of the rulers will lose their their worldly affairs, their dunya and then he said woman, a staffer, built
the habit, Maru, Otto and those who make light of their brothers, they lose their dignity. So this is something that
I think traditionally Muslims really understood this that you that there's a hierarchy in the world.
That hierarchy is meant to be respected. And without it The world cannot exist as as, as, as the divine intended it. And just to give you an example, we're born into hierarchy. We're born into families that that our parents are over us. Even we're born into a birth
order that will really dictate certain aspects of our life. So we have older brothers and sisters, and they have different rights,
then we have being in that position, being in the elderly position, and in some cultures, like in this South Asian culture, to actually distinguish these things with titles that they give. So the big sister is is actually the word it's not just my sister, it's my big sister. And so when she's address she's addressed as the big sister out of show a display of respect, but also a recognition of hierarchy in the world. There's a wonderful
moment in the great novelists Dostoyevsky's work, which is called the demons. One translation is the demons. Another translation is the possessed. And just as you wrote this novel, to really highlight the fact that Russian society was breaking down with all these new materialistic atheistic ideas, and was eroding the traditional religious culture, which which he loved the slab of philic culture. But there's, there's a scene in the novel where they're, they're debating the existence of God. And there's an officer who's in this debate, and dusty offski just makes this mention that he gets up in the middle of the debate, and shouts out as if speaking to himself, just ask, he says, He shouts
out, if there's no God,
then how can I be a captain?
Which is an incredibly profound question. Because what he was saying, if there is no hierarchy of being, then how can I How can I be in a position that have authority above anyone else, if there's no one above me, if there's no God, then then because once you remove God, all authority dissipates. And this is this is why atheism ultimately breeds communism, which says, There's no hierarchy. And yet, because it's such a false doctrine, eating variably creates a hierarchy. And then they have to kill each other, and they have to kill everybody who disagrees with them. So this is something really important. So when you lose scholars, when you lose this understanding of that there are
people who know and there's people that don't know, and ignorance is real. And we're all ignorant every I there's many things I mean, there's far more things we're ignorant about than that we have knowledge of about, but certainly,
though those who know something if, for instance, if I get into a discussion with a physicist about physics, I'm a fool. What I should do is simply if I'm interested in physics is learned from him. But this idea that I can't have a real conversation with him, even though I've actually read a few books on physics, and I'm interested in physics, but I am by no stretch a physicist. And so for me to debate a physicist about physics is is absolutely absurd. And the same is true. For instance, I was a cardiac nurse. But I'm not going to debate a cardiac physician or a professor of cardiology, about whether or not strike muscle is is real, or just simply
a name that we're giving to something we don't really understand or, you know, is the all or nothing Frank Stark law of the heart. Is that really, is that really accurate? Who am I to do that, to discuss those things? I would be a complete fool if I did that. And yet we live in a in an age where people seem to feel compelled to have an opinion about everything. And I think the worst thing about it is for the Muslims who should know better, because Allah subhana wa Adana clearly says, that talk format I said it could be and do not go what you have, follow what you have no knowledge about. Don't, don't go there. So if you don't know, Allah says, ask the people who know if you don't know,
first decreeing quantum, let alone ask the people who know if you do not know. But the problem with that
it demands humility. And this is the crux of the matter is that a lot of people, especially semi educated people, I heard a Christian wants he was asked, Why are all the educated people atheist and the real simple people believe
Like the Africans, they're all believers. And he literally said, the Africans, you know, they're believers. And yet the level of education Africa is much lower than Europe was in Europe. They're, they're much higher levels of education, but the majority of them don't believe anymore. And this Christian man, he said, that's very easy. Because knowledge tends to puff people up. And they become arrogant. And they actually think they know much more than they actually do know. And whereas with with simple people, there's a type of humility that, that allows their hearts to be open to trues that only the heart can comprehend. And I just thought that was a really good answer, because my
experience for a lot of people that are highly educated is that they do slip into a type of puffery.
And and, and it's really sad. So just recognizing who you are that scholarship if somebody spent their life studying for 4050 6070 years, I mean, we have scholars that literally have been studying for 70 years, like chef Abdullah bin beja. And then for, for me to be like, a 30 year old writing articles against him. I just it I mean, the gall of it, just to me, it really amazes me and, and now and people, obviously, oh, well, so are you saying they're above criticism?
Nobody's above criticism. But who who is the critic?
Who is the critic, the only one above criticism? Is the prophets allies.
And but but who is the critic, because the word in Arabic for critic is nakid, which means the one who can determine what's gold and what's not. So it's the person that can actually determine whether something is pure or impure. So who can do that? Well, there has to be somebody who really knows something. But when when you're young, you think you know everything. And as you get older, you're, you know, they say that fruit, a heavily laden
tree with lots of fruit. It branches are low, because there's so much weight from the fruit. And this is the reality people are humble. So one of the things that he
said, if not other, he said to me, Well as a capital home maker, better venue to attack the people of knowledge, especially the greats among them, is from the enormities, from the major sins, like just like the Cabal, so attacking people that have immense knowledge is actually it's a Kabira big and what what's amazing too, it's quite stunning, is that people write things, you know, they say bless it is the man who dies and his sins die with him. People don't realize that when you write something on the internet, and you're dead, that's still on the internet. So your backbiting will go on forever. As long as people are reading the internet, your backbiting is on there. Or, or if you
write an article if you write a book against somebody, and the thing is people can write books, we have a great scholars who attacked other scholars, but they were great scholars. So email marotti can attack even Sina. And then even Russia could come along and attacking my mother bizarrely, because they're then they're their critics, they can determine what's golden, what's not gold, and they can be wrong, just like any critic can be wrong, but they're at that level where they can do that. And so it's always interesting to me that the people that tend to attack the scholars tend to be nobody's ever heard of them. They haven't written anything. They haven't really established
themselves as great intellects. I mean, I'll be the first to admit that. I just, I don't like I don't know who I could really criticize amongst the great scholars, because I would feel like such an idiot. Just like to write a book against I love even Russia.
he disagreed with the mama khazaria and I love him. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to write a book about why even Russia was wrong in his criticism of the Mamata ghazali I just wouldn't do that. Even though the ultimate say generally our owner must say that he was wrong in certain of his critiques, but I'm not gonna I might quote a scholar saying that, but to say that is it seems like just
an extraordinarily overarching
thing to do.
And, I mean, obviously, to point out things that our scholars have said
that are that are wrong, if it's agreed upon, or if there's reasons to do it, then I would make an exception for that probably. But again, you have to know your place in the grand scheme of things. Momin, lahoma, I'm in my room, even the angels say, each one of us has a fixed station, like not to go beyond your station. And it's better to think you're below your station than to think you're at your station or above your station. You see, the Amazon walk says that whoever is has a station
that he genuinely has any claims that allow will take it away from them. And if he claims the station over his station, Allah will expose him with scandals. And if he claims a station less than his station, Allah will elevate him to a station over he says that in the collide, and he looks at that like a metaphysical car either. So it's, it's really important not to,
you know, to,
not to know who you are, and where your place is, in the grand scheme of things, it's, it's actually a very important thing to know. That's why self knowledge is so important, because how can you know anything else? If you don't know yourself? How really can you know anything, when your self is the closest thing to you. And yet, so many people do not know themselves, they don't know, their limits, they don't know, their intellectual limits, like to recognize at a certain point, which I had to do at a certain point, I just realized, I have real intellectual limitations, genuine intellectual limitations. And largely because I, I read a lot. And then I see what really profound thinking is,
and I see what really original thought is, and I see what really illuminated thought is there, I look at my own thinking, and I look at what, what I have produced myself, and I recognize what an immense gap is between
myself and my own understandings. And out of the people I read, and one of the things that I've noticed that a lot of people do, a lot of people read books, you know, there's a great line by a poet laureate, he won the Nobel Prize for poetry that says, you know, people read books and repeat quotations, draw conclusions on the wall, that there's
room, he said, if you want to be considered a great scholar, just say whatever you want, and then attributed to somebody else. And so there's so many people that,
like, they read tough series, and then they, they speak it as if it's their own insights. Like, they don't tell who they're quoting, like, I, I heard one person giving a talk. And I knew exactly where he was getting everything, because I'd read the same thing. And he had never wants to say, it's from so and so it was as if he had all these amazing insights into the book of Allah, you know, or something, you make a Rob of the Quran. And like, Oh, this is, you know, dummy Russia and or somebody, how does he know, it's dummy Russia, and because you read in the tafsir, that it will dummy Russia and he didn't produce that. And this is the difference between a student of knowledge
and real scholars is that students and we read what others have said, but for us to think that we can produce something that from our own, quote unquote, original thought, hey Hatter, like the Arab say. So it's just really important to know that and I think the older you get, the more the more you you kind of you realize that that, that we're just so limited in our understanding, but attacking scholars is just really, really dangerous. Attacking anybody is dangerous, unless there's a real reason to do that. And obviously, delusion is an important part of human existence. Many people are deleted. And so obviously, there was no I'm just protecting the dean and I mentioned that Mr. kozar
is great quote, in the book of knowledge, but Abdullah bin Masaru probably longer said, Al Bella Omar, Corona, del Cole, la septum and Calvin the heat on how will I kalba this is the Sahabi Companion of the prophesized him and he said that all of tribulation is related to speech. He said if I mocked a dog, I would be afraid that I would be turned into a dog
that but it's just it's something we have to be really careful about just
making fun of people
or attacking people.
doing these things I mean it seems to be the the the site guys now is all about attacking other people that that's what there's so much of it. There's so much negativity out there and and I think if you go online and and and look at this you're going to get sick. I'll tell you something that I'm in the middle Humbard on the line who said, he said something amazing Muhammad Allah He must atone man shama hamari, Oba woman, aka her, Matt. And this is mentioned in more and more feed one must feed. It's it's a very interesting statement, but it's recorded the Imam Ahmed himself or the man said this, the flesh of the scholars is poison, whoever smells it will get sick. But whoever eats it
will die. Meaning the heart It's a death of the heart. So whoever smells it, that means that if you just read it, if you're reading people making fun of or attacking, or, and there's a lot of it, and I'm not putting myself in here, let me let me make something perfectly clear. I don't I am a student of knowledge. I do not consider myself one of the onomah by Western standards, people can consider somebody a scholar, that's fine but not by Islamic standards. I know what a real scholar is. Because I've actually been blessed to study with them. This is who they're talking about. They're talking about these people who Allah has chosen because the publicize them said in the Hadith Sahih that
Mario relates. The prophets of ICM said
that men you need the level be higher, you fuck Dean, whoever Allah wants good for he will give them understanding of the religion.
That is called a Joomla Sheltie. It's a conditional sentence. Which means that if somebody has understanding of this Deen, Allah wanted good for them, so Who are you to want bad for them? If Allah wanted good for them, Woe unto you, Woe unto you. And so when you look at people who've been given great knowledge, if you say, Oh, he's this or he's that or he's, you don't know what his issue jihad is, you know, he's working with a whole other set of criteria that you don't have. You don't know what you don't know what he's going to defend himself on the Day of Judgment. How are you going to defend yourself if you attack him? And he has an issue he had that Allah Subhana Allah Daya said
on the tongue of his prophets lies and because all of what comes from the prophets, I send him His revelation. The prophets I send him said, Men, a Shahada. What are Saba fella who is a German woman instead of a fellow? Who ever does he had and is correct in his issue, Jihad has doubled the reward. And whoever makes it How does an incorrect in is he had he, in other words, his mistake, and so the scholar could be mistaken. But he has the criteria that enable him to make that he had, if he's mistaken, Allah is going to give him a reward anyway. But who are you? What, what reward Are you getting other than the accrual of sins by attacking people, you have no business attacking, no
business attacking. And so people can I know, this is a democratic age. And everybody says everybody's entitled to their opinion. And, and people say,
you know, that they can say whatever they want. Well, that's, that's true. You can say whatever you want, but you just have to know that like emo Matic said, that Mandara an kurama, home in Amity color karamo, when a man realizes that his speech is from his deeds, his speech will diminish. In other words, he'll begin to speak less and less, because he knows he's going to be taken to account for every single thing that he says in this world. And that includes what you write on the internet, you will be taken to account for it. So you should just know that. I mean, this is just not so you had to myself, and to everyone else, you should just know every comment you make, just like it's
preserved on the internet, it's preserved in your psyche. And it's going to be shown you're going to see it all that mockery, those little emojis that you put all that making fun of people, whatever you're doing, and I know that people listening to this aren't those people. So a lot of you don't need to be hearing this. But it's something for all of us to think about. And maybe just maybe there might be somebody listening to this who actually does participate in these types of things and will say our stuff federal law
You know, I really need to change my ways because in the end of the day, in the final analysis,
we're all moving towards the off era at such a rapidly increasing rate that we need to be getting ready. And one of the best ways to get ready is to guard your tongue to guard your pen, which is just an extension of your tongue to guard your keyboard, which is just an extension of your pen. This is life on earth. And this is what we all need to know one of the poets said the HOMO Eleanor in me must MoMA tone, woman your ID him city will help check for cordonnier Lola in my own and when added to home Yeoman for hotma attack, that the flesh of the people of knowledge is poison, and whoever opposes them is quick to perish. So be a helper to the people of knowledge. And should you
one day, attack them?
Just be prepared to take what come
so May Allah subhana wa tada purify our tongues, like us people of purity and righteousness, elevate us, make us people have told repentance and forgiveness. I mean, you could be talking about somebody, and they're in such they're doing Toba and allows accepting their Toba and you're backbiting them and the Hadith that said backbiting is worse than fornication in Islam. People say How could that be that alumna say the thing about somebody who fought a case can make Toba and Allah accepts the Toba. But if you backbite, you've attacked another person. And you technically that can't be redressed until that person forgives you.
So it's worse in that way, in that it's more difficult to remove from your Sahiba than even something as a norm. And, and it is an enormity. So I'm not belittling, and certainly the Hadees I'm just quoting the Hadith, at least in English, so.
So I, you know, I was thinking just about
Shambala. Mumia, who I've known personally for many, many years, he was my teacher in the 90s. And continued to learn from him and benefit from him. And increasingly, he got involved in
a lot of forums, to where he was attempting to mitigate a lot of the attacks on Muslims. And
and there's people that have clearly disagreed with his approach and his views. But
one of the things that is remarkable to me about people that attack people like chef Abdullah bin Vega is, it's the question is never about is what is what he's actually doing, how long? Or how,
like, what's the outcome shot? I have this? And then are you somebody that can determine that, because you have to be at the level of some level of HD had to be able to determine that I once
heard somebody was telling about some criticism that he was getting, and he said, unima foul to hold on. I haven't done anything Hold on. And I just that really struck me it's a very simple statement. But it just really struck me as something.
Wow. You know, that's, that's how he's looking at things. How long? And how long is is this permissible, what I'm doing? Or is it not? And, obviously, he has a whole set of criteria for why he would be doing what he's doing, because he obviously thinks some greater good is going to come out of what he's doing. That's his issue he had. But what what really strikes me is that the people who attack him, essentially, I mean, it's very often it's pure ideology, it's just because he's not an ideologue, and they happen to be following some type of ideology.
so, so they, somebody like that, who is recognized as one of the greatest living, also the scholars of our tradition, when in Pakistan when the Hanafi olema
came to an impasse in dealing with certain questions in in, in in some issues that had arisen in Pakistan shift Tapu Usmani who's one of the greatest scholars of the Hanafi school in the subcontinent.
Sent to Scheffer, golden Bay is seven problems, and that is actually part of the Hanafi. Also, according to other foot, the other foot Sahaba told me that in the hand, if we all saw that they will go to the marquee opinions if they don't resolve the problem within the Hanafi school. And so they actually sent him and he solved all seven of those things.
problems. These are recorded as well.
But then if you look also at his service, first of all, he comes from one of the most notable mortality and families. His father was Aldi. His father was probably the greatest living scholar of the 20th century in Mauritania.
And that was recognized even by people like Sheikh Mohammed Amina Shem fealty, who the great professor of Quran recognized his his position his mom, so that was his father. And he spent his life there studying and then at the age of 20, went to Tunisia, with some of the top scholars in moody Tania. He was the youngest of them, and he graduated first in his class amongst the scholars. He actually gave a interview on The Voice of America in 1961, I think 60 or 61, representing the students there in the Mauritanian students in Tunisia. So even the elders put him forward as their spokesperson. So he was recognized just for having a genius. In fact, Mohammed Amina shinpei, I was
told by his son, Mohammed matar, who died recently ally of hammer was one of my teachers in when I was in Medina is a beautiful man from the clan of Tisha CanNET in wood Italia. But he told me, we were talking about Shabaab and B. And he said, You know, my father used to say that hadn't been adopted at the Mauritania and he is one of the geniuses of moody Tania. And he said, You know that he had a creative mind that, that he wasn't he wasn't like a run of the mill. I mean, the Mauritania is a very, it's very difficult to impress a Mauritanian scholar, because they, you know, they really do have a lot of knowledge. So, but more tanning onomah all recognize shefa bolaven veya. But even
more importantly, this idea somehow that he would support, you know, anything that's unjust and feels that Oh, he's supporting this or he supporting that. Again, he does his he had and
in the late 70s, he was set by the president of Mauritania, Mohammed matar.
mastaba did. He sent him to Libya, when there were problems between Mauritania and Adelphi who had taken power in Libya, and he sent him there. And
the only reason I know this story is because the immortality Ambassador at the time who was in Libya at the time, actually recently revealed this last year on on to Arab television. This story, even the children of Chicago movie, were unaware of this story. So chef Abdullah Veja gave his delivered his message in the president of the ambassador because always went to a visiting politician visits another country, the ambassador will accompany them to the palace or to whatever the President's residency or his office. And so the mortain Ambassador said that Shadow DOM and bejo when he finished delivering moqtada were dead does message the president moon Italia, he said, Look, this
was from my president, but I have something personally to say to you. And at that he said, but if you look at him and said what he said, You need to feel Allah. He said you cannot attack
the our Sahaba you what you said about uphold era, what you said about Sahil Buhari, what you said about things in the Quran. I want you to make Toba
and a Daffy the ambassador related all this it's that you can see it on it's on YouTube. He said that chef Erdogan video when he said that, but that he was taken aback. And this is somebody who killed people, like literally, as far as we know, dumped scholars into the ocean, in in the Mediterranean.
There still nobody knows what happened to poor balcatta Sadat, the great Shia scholar from Iraq, but it's believed that he was dumped into the ocean. So you know, this is a moment of like, this is speaking truth to an unjust ruler, who amongst us has actually done that, like really like who amongst us has actually done that,
you know, put their lives into jeopardy for their belief.
And so the ambassador said at the start argument, and he said, I'm not, he said, you're wrong, and you need to make Toba and I will not leave here until I hear you retract your statement.
So the ambassador said that he didn't find that that that if he relented and said, No, no, you're right. That's not for the law. You're right and then he left.
That's something to think about, you know, and, and that if that's a man, who was
now he's 87 years old, and he spent his life serving this religion, he's going to sell his religion at this late stage. When when he knows that just by being a mortal, that he's looking at his own mortality. I mean, that's just, I don't know how, what people how they reason. It just doesn't make sense. So but I know who he is, because I've spent years I've spent over two decades, living with him traveling with him translating for him. I know who he is, I have no doubts. Well, I have no doubts. lemmas account Allah had, you know, we can't only Allah knows the reality of people, but in myself, personally, I believe that he's one of the Odia of God, because I've seen it, like I've seen
and many people who have worked with him, I have felt the same thing. Only Allah knows these things. We can't it's not our business to determine, but that's my belief. So when I look at him, I don't I don't judge him I
I might disagree, I can actually disagree with something and and think I would have done this differently or something like that. But the idea that I don't recognize the level of scholarship and the sincerity and the valid authority that he has to determine his own path.
I mean, that seems to me to be something just really obvious and clear. And I just feel sorry for people that
the way that some people have talked about him it just to me, I I would just not want to be in their shoes on the Day of Judgment. I really wouldn't.
I mean, there's always time for Toba but
it just it's it's amazes me.
So May Allah subhanho wa Taala inshallah, elevate all of you and increase you and keep you going, inshallah. Until shala, we meet again, a set on medical water warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.