Channel: Hamza Yusuf
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Bismillah R Rahman Rahim, name of God the Most Merciful, the most compassionate.
It's really nice to see such a crowd come out for a topic like this. It's also an amazingly diverse group of people, which is at the essence of what we're going to be talking about tonight, diversity.
the current crisis on this globe is, in some ways, it's not new. It's deeply human. But at the same time, there's new dimensions to the crisis, technology is certainly one of them. It's had a huge impact on us as a species, we now know and can see all over the world, what's happening to other peoples in the past, you could live relatively,
relatively peaceful in a place if you were fortunate, I'm sure the aloni Indians here 300 years ago did not know about all the problems that were happening, for instance, in the Middle East at the time, whereas now we do we see all these problems, and it becomes a little overwhelming for people. Generally, to deal with that we're, we're as a species, we're probably not designed to have this type of crisis overload one after another. And hence, a lot of people literally turn off the verses that were recited in sort of the metadata chapter called the table spread. And metadata in Arabic is actually there has to be food on it to be on that either. If it's not, it's called one.
So that that those verses are very interesting verses because they have for this topic, because they're basically essentially telling us that God has given each group A Shara, a law, and a min Hajj, which is also a Hebrew term, a methodology or a way of applying that law. And and it says, had God wanted, he would have made all of us one community. But in order to test you, he's made diversity. And then it says festival called hierarchy VI, in virtue, with one another vi in virtue.
There's many verses in the Torah. And then after that, it says that God will explain why you were deferring on the Day of Judgment. So there's this idea of just deferring until the day of judgment, what these differences are about, because humans will differ, we've been given intellect, and we have freewill. And we reason for ourselves. So we're going to differ that's part of the human condition, difference of opinion. And the Muslims developed a very sophisticated art called the art of deferring the adverb at DEF, the, the courtesies, the comportment, the decorum that goes with deferring. And there was a whole system that traditionally you needed to learn before you could get
into a debate with another and part of it was just respecting the other's opinion, and listening to it before you made your own judgments.
Obviously, civil discourse is at the essence of a civilized society. from one perspective, the Quran is an argument.
It's an attempt to persuade us of its truth. And it leaves open its rejection. I mean, this, it can't be a real argument if there's no possibility of rejecting it. So for men, chef and human woman chef at the court, whoever wants to believe in this, let him believe in whoever wants to disbelieve, let him disbelieve
that this is a choice. And that's a really important aspect of the Quran. In a society where we need to live together civilly. We want persuasion to be a verbal power, and not a military might that imposes on others. What you're seeing now in the Muslim world, is attempts to impose ideas on other people there's been a lot of despotism in the Muslim world for a long time that's created a certain environment there's an immense amount of tribalism and tribalism is at the essence of a lot of the problems our profits lie to them once
one the unsolved got into a fight with one of them Ohio duty in sums in one three why they were actually young, they were teenagers. And the Ansari, the man from the indigenous people of Medina called out Yeah, Lancer. Oh ansara people come help me. And then the mohajir either immigrant called out
Yeah, lol Maharaja Mahajan. Oh, you immigrants come help me. So they came out ready to do get out. And the Prophet heard this and he went out. And he said,
in my presence, you're going to call to this jalahalli, this ignorant call. And then he said that we will have in our montina leave this, this ignorance because it's a foul thing.
And then he said, help your brother, the oppressor and the oppressed? And they said, How do we help? We know how we can help our brother the oppressed, but how do we help our brother the oppressor? And he said, by stopping him from his oppression.
So he was teaching them something very important that many, many places in the Muslim world they've forgotten. The idea of truth is what we should be pursuing. And not what is called in the Hadith also be this fanaticism, this zealous belief in the superiority of your own group.
I was involved and I've been a student of SHUT UP delevan bayers. Now for over 20 years, when he saw the Christians and the, the all of these different groups being persecuted in certain places where civil society had broken down, and there was a collapse failed states. He, he wrote a policy paper. And then he convened it took him three years, because he got together about 250 of some of the top scholars in the Muslim world. And he debated with them. And I was in on several debates, debates, they were fascinating.
One particular one that I mentioned, revolved around the particle Minh, in in which is a it's a preposition in in Arabic. And and it revolved around that and another about Matt, the preposition man with debating about Hadith about how you could interpret this hadith when it says the Jews are community with the Muslims. What does that mean? Because even he Sham gives several possibilities. And he was making an argument. And he actually convinced one of the most notable scholars in Pakistan, of his position based on the possibility of interpreting this. And this is why language was so important to the Muslims, because in order to communicate, we have to, we have to be speaking
a language and recognizing the nuances of language. Because Arabic in particular is an extremely nuanced language. But all languages have subtleties and nuances. And if we lose sight of that, we lose the ability to communicate with with one another.
And then the idea of seeing the other person's perspective is very important. There's a story that they tell in the middle east of Mullah nasruddin, or Georgia, where he was on the side of a river and there was another man on the other side. And the man called over to him, how do I get to the other side? And Mullah said, you're already on the other side.
And the point of that is, we often fail to see the other person's perspective. He was looking from his perspective, but the other man was looking from his. And so in order for us to be able to understand each other, we have to, in a sense, get in the other shoes. There's a beautiful AI in the Quran, when the Prophet is commanded to discuss with his interlocutor, it says, we need to come under hood and have your bodily moving.
It says either I or you are guided. In other words, let's
come together and talk and that l is a very interesting Oh, because oh in Arabic can mean a lot of things that one's called, how to fly often Lily Pam, it's very interesting. Oh, because the Arabs have all these ways of speaking, where they have multiple exit strategies. And and this is very important in a in a society where you have tribalism and where what you say can actually get you killed. There's a famous story about one of the coverage who wrote a poem and it said You know,
a mural me Nina shaky, you know, and amongst us we have the the mural minion Shaheed. Well, they caught this man he was brought before the Kayla, and he said, How dare you say that you have? I'm the Amira moment in your claim you he said no, no, I said we're in ameerul momineen. Shakib, he changed it from the nominative case to the accusative case, which switch the meaning as if he's addressing the actual mirror. Normally, these are
examples of how language was very important in getting people out of problems. And we were just talking earlier about the the Oxford comments also known as the Harvard comma if you're American,
the $10 million lawsuit over the omission of a comma. And when you have three things together, and you have and some people say you should add a comma for clarity. So these truck drivers, who were either grammarians or they got a lawyer who knew grammar,
were able to get $10 million
in overtime, a lawsuit against this company because of the omission of a comma. So in a civilized society, language is extremely important. And this is why Sheikh Abdullah in three years he worked with the scholars, and it was all over language. And from that came, we have the light translated his paper. And then he has the Americas declaration, in which he argues that jizya which many Muslims think is the way that you deal with peoples of other face that they have to pay jizya in submission based on chapter nine, there's a verse in the ninth chapter of the Quran that says that other people's have to pay jizya
the chef makes a very cogent argument that that was only one possibility. And and he gives historical precedent for other possibilities, not just from Omar women are the second, Caleb, but from the practice of caves. After that there are periods where the umayyads were actually paying the Byzantines to guard the borders. So he makes this argument but one of the things that he says and I'll just end with two things. And so because I really want to also hear myself we have two really distinguished scholars here tonight, Dr. Andrew march from Harvard and Dr. Maria cake from George Mason.
Both of them wrote very, very excellent articles in this but shamballa bin beja says in his paper, he says that we have to take into account historical developments and the social and human context. He says developments and changes over time as well as contemporary societal realities present a set of circumstances that differ from those in which the particular Ally's rulings were originally revealed. social context remains the premise upon which we determine the suitability of a legal rulings application. In other words, text and context cannot be separate. And this is the traditional juristic methodology of our civilization. Hence, our context today demands a novel
reading of sacred law in light of the foundational and universal building blocks of legislation. In addition, we must view all of the political, social, economic, scientific and technological realities. Today, we have international accords borders weapons of mass destruction, and religious cultural as well as multi ethnic communities in both Muslim majority lands and those beyond. In our context. Today, social contracts have replaced tribal and religious allegiances. And in the international domain, the domination of superpowers has been replaced by the interdependence of nations with international treaties and accords that for all intents and purposes hold up relatively
well. Globalization has emerged as an ongoing reality of our world and not just a fleeting trend, and although it is framed in a way that allows one to take it or leave it, in reality, it compels itself on us all. This current context impacts not only in the international institutions and laws, but also the continued appropriateness of the sacred texts regardless of their original reasons, and circumstances in which they were revealed. And here is the important point for me. In light of this no room for romanticizing history remains, we must abandon all delusions of empire for the Muslim community, and nostalgia for past military might and victory or what should have been done, but was
not. We must also abandon any and all aberrations and illusions that have currently framed the Muslim community as in opposition to humanity, instead of remaining as it originally was a contributor to the advancement and development of civilization. Our world no longer identifies itself in religious terms. Instead, it identifies itself through culture, personal and social interests, technologies, covenants, contracts and treaties. But this does not mean that people are not devout and religious. Make no mistake about it. A mistaken diagnosis is fatal. the realities of our context today do not allow for the old categories of religion, as the world today is
multicultural, its contribution of pluralism
itself a virtue provides immense opportunities for humanity to achieve a lasting and natural state of peace. And in conclusion, he identifies the social values of Islam. It's very interesting because in the Catholic tradition, St. Thomas Aquinas also deals with the social virtues and many of them actually dovetail with the Islamic. The first is gentleness and benevolence. The Koran says he does not forbid you to deal gently and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith nor driven you out of your homes. God loves the just 6088 verse eight. The second is dignity.
And the Quran, interestingly enough, differentiates between ontological dignity, which is the essential dignity of a human being just simply for being human. You have a dignity irrespective of what you do and who you are. Even the worst criminal is entitled to ontological dignity. And that's just the dignity of being human. And this comes from a verse in, in the 17 chapter called Benny is Isla israa. We have dignified the children of Adam and carry them by land and see the moral dignity which is the second type of dignity is in the 49th chapter of Quran, where it says in our chromic Mandela,
that the most dignified amongst you are the most conscientious, the most pious that's moral dignity that's acquired ontological dignity is not earned. It's given to you by God by simply being a
creature of god that's endowed with with rationality and and humanity. Third, cooperation, solidarity and rectification, help one another to do what is right and good do not help one another towards sin and hostility. Koran, chapter five verse two, do not corrupt the earth as after it has been set, right. 756 do not seek to spread corruption the land for God does not love those who do this. God knows those who spoil things and those who improve them. So cooperation, solidarity and record rectification, that verse The first one of cooperating and goodness was actually revealed concerning the policies of Mecca to work with them It wasn't revealed for the for the Muslims to
cooperate with one another. Reconciliation make things right between you eight one human solidarity and interaction people recreated all from the single man and a single woman and made you into races and tribes so that you should get to know one another. in God's eyes, the most honored of you are the ones most mindful of God.
And this is a basis of interaction between people not dominance as as found in the galleon dialectic that is predicated upon perpetual dominance. Based on the master slave theory of Hegel,
six wisdom whoever's given wisdom has been given much good and only those with insight bear this in mind, Quran chapter two verse 269, the common weal, we will not deny those who work for rectitude, they're just rewards so working for the common we'll common goodness, eight, being just with others, God commands to justice doing good and generosity towards relatives, and he forbids what is shameful, blameworthy and oppressive. He teaches you that you might take heed. Number nine mercy, it was only as a mercy that you were sent. And this is why you have to have if you have social justice, you also have to have social mercy. You can't you know, Raul john Rawls, and I think Dr. Marshall
probably bring him up. He brought them up in his article, but john Rawls argues that the most important virtue of a society is justice. But the Muslims would argue that the most important is actually love.
And Robert is behind he says, reiterating what Aristotle said. He says in his o'clock, he says, when you have love, people forgo justice. And that's why a family is based on love. Because families oppress each other, but you're still
family, and then peace, which peace and even higher principle and value remains locked in, in reality, oh, you believe enter wholeheartedly into a state of peace.
And one of the things that's quoted a lot No, no peace without justice. If you look at Dr. King's original statement, he actually said there can be no justice without peace.
And there can be no peace without justice. You have to see both together. If you say no peace without justice will never have it's just going to be conflict. And this is why the content iteration he differentiates being temporal peace and perpetual peace. No, no peace without justice is perpetual peace. But temporal peace is where you work for justice within the within the the, the the environment of peace and finally covenants, fulfilling covenants and
is considered a sign of true faith oh you who believed fulfill your obligations, if they seek help from you against religious persecution, it is your duty to help them. So these are some of the ideas that chef Abdullah is
introducing or reintroducing, and I will just say he is not a modernist by any stretch. This is a man deeply steeped in tradition. And he's working from the tradition of the great Mussolini scholars, Mr. Kashkari, the great theologian and and Sufi said that the also these are the generals of this oma they're the people that give the strategy. No. strategos is the Greek word for general. They're the ones that look down the road. So we have inshallah a wonderful conversation in store with some really exceptional scholars, Dr. March and Dr. Cake. So I think,
yeah, yeah, this minute.