Channel: Hamza Yusuf
“Haven’t they seen how we have diminished the earth from its edges?” This week’s sacred text message focuses on this extraordinary verse from the 13th chapter of the Quran entitled Ra’d or Thunder. Though the geological realities of the verse are obvious for us today, the early masters of Quranic exegesis interpreted the diminishment of the earth as the passing of the great men and women of knowledge and piety. Listen to Shaykh Hamza as he delves deeper into this exposition with a eulogy on one of the greatest scholars and hidden gems of our time.
On the Passing of Shaykh Murabit Ahmad Fal al-Amsami: Read the Eulogy Here
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Only when humans shop or a team smilla rahmanir rahim or Salalah see they know Mohammed and he will send him to sudima a Salaam Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh Today's sacred text messages taken from the chapter known as Arad, which is thunder. And it's the 41st in which Allah subhana wa tada says, Oh, what a mural an urban and also hamanaka Rafi Ha. Haven't they seen how we diminish the earth from its edges? nickelsville hamanaka raffia and this and then it says Willa Who ya como la ma October the hook me what was said? He said, and Allah subhana wa tada is the one who makes the ultimate judge, and no one can overrule His judgment, and he is quick to reckoning. So what's
interesting about this verse is that while we know that there is a constant diminishment of the edges of the earth with the ocean, so that there's always the ocean is eroding, there's a constant erosion. So the outward meaning is perfectly
understandable. But this was obviously not something that the morphus yourown understood, because this comes out of geology and understanding about erosion and things like that. I mean, I suppose somebody could work that out by just looking at beaches and things like that, but most people thought it was always like that, that that would be the average thinking. So the way that they understood that, and this comes out of some really extraordinary
statements about the set of that they understood the the,
the knock sign or the diminishment of it to be the death of scholars that that as as, as the scholars die, there's there's a loss of a part of the main
there's a loss of the continent, something of the continent, when when we lose these great scholars. And so I just wanted to do a reflection on the loss of really, really, truly great scholar who we've lost a few just in the last few weeks. I know, Shakira Yan of Egypt, or himolla, I did not know him, but I saw pictures of me he's just as just beautiful face. See, monkey will do him. You know, there are signs are in their faces. And I know that chef Walid
on the East Coast, told me that he had studied with him and that he was really truly one of the Giants. He was the Maliki fapy, and teacher
in an IRA. And then also there was some of the Habib had passed away. And I'm sure there's other scholars around the world because scholars, a lot of them are elderly, especially the great ones, and they are, we're losing them. But the scholar that I'd like to talk about today was one of my teachers, even though I studied with him for a very brief time, but I did study considerably with his son so I have a connection to him a very strong connection through his son and that was shift more up to Hamad file, um, semi, is he he had a really extraordinary madrasa in what's known as I know, hush BA in, in central Mauritania, and he was just a really stunning scholar.
One of the, the things I think that everybody who visited him, was struck by was one his countenance he had a really beautiful face. A lot of light, people talk about it as light in his face. And
there was genuinely light there for people that that did have the opportunity to see him and experience Him personally, some of that comes through with some of the photographs of him, but he,
he, he had studied with models that Hodge in the, in the 1960s. He spent, I think he went he went there in 1958 and stayed until 1968. He actually married model that has his daughter. And so he, he gave, she gave birth to a really extraordinary
young man who is now a full fledged scholar in his own right and really, I think, exceptional scholar, and that's Mahabharata Abdullah Ahmed, who teaches in to me right now he's the son of malapa Hamad fan and he and he lived with me in California for some time he actually memorized ohare in my house. So it's quite extraordinary to see him just memorizing this book by rote but really, really amazing.
scholar and just a man of incredible piety, but macdermid fav studied for 10 years. And when we say studied for 10 years, I'm talking about
five days a week, for several hours every day, it's much more intense the way the more Italian study than the way we study in the West.
A lot of it involves rote memorization. And, and some people look at the Italians. I've heard some of the Eastern people say this about the Italians, and I've always felt it was there's there's a tinge of envy in it. They say things like, Oh, well, they memorize, but they, you know, they don't really understand it, and things like that, which is absolutely, calumny against the Mauritanian scholars, because while that is true for some students of knowledge, and always will be there, people that have good memories, but for understanding and there's people that have really excellent understanding and poor memories, so you get, in fact, it's quite rare to get the two together,
according to Mr. clt, who said that he was one of those rare events himself, but in what he tiny, it's not rare, it's it's actually the norm amongst the great scholars and more are built in Mauritania is not your average person, the morava to somebody who actually has a college and his his teaching and has reached a real level of mastery. And and, and these are people that it's hard for us in the west to imagine them so just to give the example they memorize the Quran early in using the first five years of their study, so but their memorization of Quran is not like the Quran is memorized in Egypt or in Pakistan or in other places. When the more Italians memorize the Quran,
they memorize both rewire of NAFTA, so awesome, has to reward people that memorize the Quran in most places only know one of the riwayat a female awesome, whereas the Murrieta is learned both balloon and wash and then they study Tajweed and then they study Rossum, so they don't consider you a half it unless you can actually write the entire Koran without making any orthographical mistakes. Because they say that's the meaning of half it is somebody who preserves the port on not just the the the sounds of the poem, but actually how to write it so that the rest of Earth manic could never disappear from the earth. So of all the most hops were burnt a lot of that a lot. But if all the
most apps on the planet were burnt, there would be more tiny and scholars that could write it from scratch. And, and, and reprinted as it was and that's, you know, that's that's a reality. So, he studied with his father first model diamond found and he learned the basic text of the day study there went when when the Mauritanians First they learn the Quran, but then they learn like they they'll read like an allegory in, in prayer, to learn a basic prayer. And it has a beautiful little section on on, you know, what we believe in then on some what would traditionally be called to solo for things about purification of the heart. And it has a wonderful section in about the illuminating
nature of the prayer.
So that was the the text the first text that I studied was that and I didn't do the poem, I actually did enough of them, and memorize the whole nother which was a little harder than the poem a lot of the students studied the poem, but the
the, and then he learned the next one was about Asher. And then he studied, like Cree, they usually study initially a basic creed, like a Boolean, which is from one of their texts, and then
the Agile Mia in grammar, and then when he did those basic things he set out to study with mob that has when faithful in to Ghana, and he studied with him
all of the Mattoon that they study in the in the Mauritanian madrasa, which included memorizing the entire text of hudy which is a formidable task in and of itself, and he actually studied it twice with models that had so he read it once with memorization then did a second because it's difficult text and it's it's written in a very, very abstruse, succinct language that that just reading the text without commentary is is not easy. Some of it can be read, but some of it definitely needs some type of commentary to fill in the gaps. And then he also studied also the fic. he mastered all
the texts of Arabic that they use there so that would mean that agile romea Malhotra, Arab of Mr Hariri, which is over 300, lines memorized, and usually they learn with those all of the Showa head, or the examples from poetry and things. And then he learned the alphabet, even Maalik, and then he studied MRR have been boonah, which is
like all of the things that are absent from the elfia that are in there. So there's a lot of really interesting. So the total of it is literally several 1000 lines of poetry just in grammar to master grammar. And then he studied logic. And then he studied rhetoric, these these are the real fundamental sciences of the the, of our tradition, Islamic scholastic tradition, which we in the West called the trivium. So these are also the fundamental sciences. So we share that with the West. And that's one of the things that we're really trying to revive in zaytuna. Because while it's still taught to a certain degree in a lot, a lot of the traditional schools in in the Muslim world,
unfortunately, it's it's, it's really, really rarely taught anymore in the West, except by Christians who recognize the importance of it, to study their own tradition.
And then in 1968, he went and he established his own madrasa after studying with model HUD for several years and began taking students very profoundly pious man had a deeply died spirituality. One of the things that was noted about him was that he really took on the practices of his teacher model that has I was told by one of the people that had known him for over 70 years, he said that he is absolutely certain that nobody's ever heard him speak ill of any human being.
model that has and model diamond fabulous like that. Which is really just a stunning testimony to uprightness, because it's just so difficult for people not to speak about other people. See, the Amazon rock says one of the most dangerous questions you'll ever ask is how so and so because he said, it opens the door to backbiting and people now they backbite with impunity, they don't really think about it, they talk about people
and oh, even rolling the eyes is considered backbiting with somebody whose name is mentioned all these types of things. So it's not just that words, and now we have texting to people to help them facilitate their sinfulness and
and internet comments, things like that.
It's It's really amazing. So but he was noted for that like just total uprightness comes from the masoumeh plan, which does Araya and moody Tanya are those Why are basically the Scholastic masters of the Mauritanian tradition, so many tiny has a very interesting, it's actually very similar to how India the Hindus have their stratification. So, you have the the the Brahman and those are the zweier clans, those are the the people of study and devotion intellect and then you have the what they call the out of which are the cushty in the in the caste system that they have in India, these are the warrior clans and then you have the the sunart which are like the vas year clans in
Hinduism, and then you have the the the you have the Hara theme and then you have the you have the Xin Agha, which
is an algo that is an Agha also are akin to the vaishya class probably, but they really stratify. And it was originally introduced many centuries ago as a way of just
functioning society. So each group it was it was really like
a kind of
in management. It's basically a division of labor. Essentially, that's what that's what that's what it would be called. One of the things about Hinduism, which interesting even though they codify it in their religion, these are natural
phenomena in every human society. So if you look at the United States, for instance, we have the warrior class, the cristea would be the military and the police. And we have like the Brahmins, those are all the the educators, the university professors, and also the
you know, the political class is supposed to be like that, even though they're very often are wanting, and then you have the vaishya which would be like the merchants and the commercial class, and then you have like the
Like people who serve our utilities, people that do those difficult jobs that a lot of people don't want to do. People like sanitation engineers,
people that work in
junkyards and, and other places, I mean, those are all jobs that need to be done. But
it's a difficult job for people to do. So these are natural phenomenon. In societies, it's a very unusual aspect of life on Earth, that we that these things don't go away for some reason. I mean, obviously, you don't want to see it proliferate. So, a healthy society should do everything they can to mitigate these phenomena like homelessness and things like that. But they seem to be part of the world as far as we can tell it because they've always been around.
So the more Italians have that interesting, diversification of talent and so the Brahmin class this Zelaya class are, they're really, really take study very seriously. And, and model diamond fad was a great example of that of somebody who really, really went deeply into the sciences of Islam and could teach without notes, all of these different sciences.
I once heard,
Chef, Muhammad Hassan was dead, who told me in my house, he visited me once in my house, and he said to me, you know, that that he could dictate 40 books in 40 sciences right now. And he wasn't boasting. He was just saying this making a statement of fact, and there's a lot of truth to that.
A Mauritanian saw a master like chef absorb and be you could easily right now do an entire course on all sorts of facts without having any recourse to notes. In fact, his book, which is called a Madea dilla, lat, which is now a textbook in Alaska, and several other colleges, family are dictations, he literally gave that book were lectures that he gave without any notes. And then it was transcribed, edited and put into a book. And he can do it off the top of his head. I just want sitting with him. And somebody mentioned something that he'd read in a book by another scholar. I won't mention his name, people might recognize it, but he mentioned another scholar. And I said, I don't think that's
the dominant opinion. I think that's a weak opinion. And and I said, but let's wait till chef Abdullah comes in and asked him so he because he was out. And so he came in this was in Jeddah, and he came in and I asked, I said,
it was actually my friend atmosphere. Gary, who had asked the question I said, I'm going to get he was reading this book, and he mentioned that the scholar said this. And Sheldon beja said, huh, he said, well, that there's eight opinions on that, on that on that topic, and, and then he enumerated the eight. And then he said that, but that's probably the weakest. So it's surprising that he would mention that opinion. Another time, I saw a very notable as hardy scholar who was younger, who came in and gave chef Abdullah Veja his book on all sorts of this is true story. And Chef abobe, they open the book, and and he read what the just in the middle of the book and he read section. And and
he said, and then he just said to him, and he would never do this. Like,
other than I think, as a teaching. The reason it is, but he literally opened the book. And he said,
you're quoting him, I'm out of ozada here, but that's actually not his opinion. He mentioned that in in, in, in, in this book, but actually, his his final opinion that he landed on is, is in the most docile and actually goes against this opinion. So you should make that correction The next time you print the book, because that was that was his that was not his position at the at the end of his life.
But that's an example of a real master. And as part of the danger of writing books, when before we're prepared to write books because
it's just the amount of knowledge you have to do, especially when is Islamic knowledge. One of the interesting things about murghab diamond fell ragamala is that he didn't write much he did write, he has a lot of response or what we would call for tower. We didn't write much because the Mauritanians the owner might tend to teach all the time and so they don't have a lot of time to write when they run their schools. And I once asked his son if he would consider writing a commentary even Asher that had deals. And he said a staford Allah Who am I to write a comments you only have an Azure and and and that's how they feel. There's a real
Sincere humility, because they understand the level of knowledge that you have to do, to have to,
to do such things and also the fear of just having to be responsible for that in the afterlife of giving people guidance, so these are these were momentous things, but he was a beautiful man. And and I'll just mention something really interesting. And I, I've written an obituary about him and, and you can, if you go on to sandahl, as website, you can find the obituary and see some, some pictures of him. But one of the, and I'll just close in saying this that one of the really interesting things is that
I was sitting with him once and and we were,
we were talking about models that had who he had started with, and I'd stayed with him for a much shorter time than he had. But nonetheless, we, we both benefited
immensely in the time that I spent with him, which was much less but
just any time with such people, it's just such a benefit. But he then talked about how fortunate we were to have him because more of that has at the time he was still alive. And he and he said that, you know, these people are the ones that would MBR as if he wasn't one of them. And then and then and then he recited these lines, Lambrou cameras here to talk to Marlin, what are foreign, Jumbo to whatever zero what I can receive up to Carmen, Mo to be multi harpoon zero, which basically translates as calamity is not loss of wealth or the death of a mayor or a dromedary.
The real calamity is the death of have a say the arm, somebody who's a say it, okay?
The seed in Arabic is the one that you flee to in times of tribulation, who a source of refuge. And that's what the great scholars are. And obviously the added baits are called sad, because
traditionally, Muslims would hit the West. So it would be him like Alma, there was Sarah. She said, we used to make tawassul with the Prophet. And now we make to us without bass, the uncle of the prophets, Allah Hi, Sam. So the sad that traditionally were people that people would go to them in times of, of calamity and they would ask them to pray, in hopes that because they were relatives of the Prophet it'd be answered, so to say it is somebody that you need in difficult times. And, and he said, so that the real calamity is the death of sacred who when he dies, multitudes die with him.
So, Allah subhana wa tada blasphemer of Talmud fall and give him light in his grave and, and me all the men and women that benefited from him be in his muse and on the day of judgment and his scales inshallah. And may we be worthy of transmitting whatever he might have taught us in sha Allah? May Allah subhanho wa Taala bless all of you, these these scholars, many of them are, are leaving us now. And, and to be really, really, and I'll say this in all, absolute sincerity.
When I went to Mauritania, for the first time, which was in the early 80s
I saw something that really was quite unusual, people think I romanticized it, and but they don't they don't know what what I saw there.
And just to give you a glimpse of it, when I was in
a test, a small town called guru,
and one night we were, I had I was with somebody named Muhammad masumi, who actually died from cancer and is buried in Granada. He's from a model that has his plan. And he and I walked up there, there's near should have
been boy, this house, we walked up onto this huge mountain of sand is just, you know, Kathy, and it overlooked this stunning city that you just couldn't have imagined it because it's so vivid in my mind what I saw right now just this is almost 40 years later, and it's just so vivid in my mind that I can almost see it. And it was all mud houses. There was no electricity. This was after Isha and it was really, really dark. This
The diamond sky was completely illuminated with stars and if you've ever been in deep desert on a clear night, you know what I'm talking about. just extraordinary. And I'm overlooking this beautiful city with an there was enough moonlight to, to just see the city
it seemed as if from every single house
the Quran was being recited, and it was like a humming of bees, the entire village was reciting the Koran. And it was I literally, I just started weeping.
Just be to see something like that, like the whole city reciting the Quran at night.
years later, I came back to the city, and every house had a satellite dish on it. And there were all these electrical wires everywhere.
And that wasn't that that poron anymore. And I just I felt like, what does this mean?
Because for hundreds of years, that's the way that town was. And just to change in such a rapid time was something so strange to see. And so when I say this, I mean I can honestly say people can say I romanticized it or not. I know what I saw. And I know what was there and I know what's been lost. And
even though there's still a lot of good in Mauritania, there's still a deeply
religious culture. The changes that I've seen in Mauritania either I just