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Between Madrassah and The Academy Studying Islam in the East Versus West
Channel: Yasir Qadhi
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Bismillahirrahmanirrahim are salat wa salam ala shuffle Ambia even more saline. Thank you all very much for coming to this event, which is going to have a special event that we've arranged that really fits the nature of the College of Islamic Studies and what we seek to do, being a bridge between both Western academia and academic models within the Islamic world so that we can through the Western academic model still affect modes of teaching that preserve and perpetuate classical Islamic epistemologies. And so that the institutions that we have, though they may be in the modern form, have the substance which is inherent to the classical tradition from the time of the Prophet
sallallahu alayhi wasallam. Now, the person that we have with us our guest today is one of the few people who really has the ability to fully address this issue. Dr. Yasser Bodhi l yearly
joined. He is a resident scholar at East Plano Islamic Center, and he is the dean of Islamic Seminary of America in Dallas, Texas. He completed his primary and secondary education in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, then graduated with a BS in chemical engineering from the University of Houston, after which he completed a second bachelor's degree at the Islamic University of Medina specializing in Hadith studies. Then he went on to complete an MA in Islamic theology from the College of Dawa. He then returned to the United States and completed a PhD in religious studies from Yale University, where his dissertation focused in some ways upon the issues that we are addressing here today, which
is the role the relationship between Beeson Ockel and Revelation knuckle which read in he focused on this in the form of Ibn Taymiyyah. Dr. Yasir qadhi has authored several books, for example, a commentary on sort of the clef and you sought use of as well and sort of the use of these are very good books, I'd recommend them personally, I've benefited from them. And he's published several academic articles appeared on numerous satellite and TV stations around the globe. His online videos are some of the most popular and highly watched Islamic videos in English. He's currently working on a book entitled in the footsteps of the righteous predecessors, solid Salafism between fact and
fiction under contract with one world press. Tonight's event is brought to you by the minority in center, which serves as the community engagement arm of the College of Islamic Studies at Hamad bin Khalifa university may not attain strives to be the leading education center based on Islamic universal ethical and moral values, making life long learning accessible to all segments of education city and Qatar society at large. May not attain leverages world class expertise of the College of Islamic Studies faculty to facilitate spiritual growth and ethical character development by providing this fundamental Islamic education for the community. This serves to strengthen the
moral fabric of society, preparing confident individuals grounded in faith to deal with contemporary complex challenges in contemporary society. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Dr. Yes, I'm gonna call it
Zack Kamala Harris Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa Salatu was Salam ala Rasulillah. Early, he was so happy when while I'm a bad. First and foremost, thank you so much for inviting me to speak to all of you it really is an honor and a pleasure to be here. It's been many years since I last spoke in Doha. I have come to Doha so many times in the last decade, but just as transit, right. So it's been a long time since I've actually come inside Doha and spoken I think since what 2014 was the last time it is the first time of speaking here at CIS as a guest of Qatar Foundation. So it is my honor and pleasure to be here.
I also want to just make a quick disclaimer, I'm jet lagged from three different time zones. I was of course I'm from Dallas. I was in Malaysia for three days for a conference there and so from Malaysia and flying in, you know, few hours ago, I just landed today, so if I'm a little bit zoned out, I apologize, but inshallah inshallah hopefully you'll be able to manage for tonight. I want to begin with an anecdote. My Ma dissertation at the University of Medina, was entitled makalah tell Jonathan software and what I thought
Hi, Phil felt awkward Islamia, the theological positions of somebody by the name of Jehovah admin. So one who died 127 hedgerows were very early on, and his effects on Islamic sects and prisms how he has impacted Islamic theology. As you're aware, dissertations in our part of the world are very deep, very dense. I spent four years studying an obscure figure, I wrote 850 pages in Arabic, it is published in two volumes, you can find it available still to this day in the marketplace. And I thought I know more about jam admin software than anybody in the world who would possibly know more than me, I spent four years studying this guy and, you know, wrote, you know, an entire dissertation
and it got top honors, awarded everything my advisor, loved it published and whatnot. So I get accepted to Yale. And walk in 2005 was the year I walked into their Sterling library, by the way, their Arabic collection was manifold many times more larger than our collection in Medina, but that's the surface are all together. And I said, What can these guys possibly know about Jehovah one? So I did my search. This is my first week at Yale. I did my search here. And I found an article written before I was born in the 1960s. By Richard M. Frank, a very well known academic orientalist, they called them back in the day, entitled The Neo Platonism of John Gibbons of one written in 1968,
before he went on, was born. And intrigued, I requested it within milliseconds, you know, they have a system, you get it. And I remember reading through that article, three times,
not understanding anything of what he was trying to convey.
And I remember thinking, this is a totally different world. I have an MA dissertation on this person. And this guy has written an article before I was born. He hasn't referenced many of my references, he has very little biographical information, I discovered a lot more stuff. But what he's writing about Neo Platonism, I hadn't studied it in Medina, at the time, I had no idea what Neo Platonism was much less how Jehovah's self one is embodying it, much less how he's conveying it to, you know, through his thought and whatnot. And I realized that there is a lot, I still have to learn
about things that I have no idea even what they are. And that was the beginning of a very, very long journey. And this talk is going to summarize some of those epistemological differences. But a bit of a disclaimer that, obviously a lot of this is based upon my own personal trajectory. I studied engineering before I went to Medina. So I didn't have a humanities background. At the University of Medina, from 1995 to 2005, I was immersed in a very different seminary, as you're aware, it's a very different understanding of Islam a very, you know, it's a very structured and also somewhat of a bubble environment. And I excel for 10 years, I was there in a very different environment. And then
eight years at Yale doing my PhD. So I'm going to be giving information that might be a little bit outdated, because we're talking about 2005, I was accepted to you, I hope things have changed, both on the eastern side, and on the western side. But, you know, frankly, when I got accepted to Yale,
it was rare for an observant Muslim, public Muslim, to be a PhD student, much less somebody who had clerical credentials. In fact, I think it's still rare to have somebody with clerical credentials. So my experience was a relatively unique in that regard. And I do hope that things have changed since that point in time, more and more Muslims are entering the academy when I was there was very, very few Muslims, and hardly any that were very public about their Islam. But nonetheless, let us begin by talking about some of the most important paradigmatic differences between the Eastern system, the madrasa system that we're accustomed to, and between the Western Academy, let's begin
with the most obvious religious seminaries, like Medina like Al Azhar, like any place before went to Morocco, you went to Syria and went to Jordan. Religious seminaries are faith based. Therefore, they're meant to increase your Eman. They're meant for you to know your faith as a believer, obviously, the academic study of Islam, it's not faith based. And this, of course, leads to a number of factors. Most importantly, that in any seminary, there are clear red lines that the seminary is not going to cross. There are a set of assumptions that are tacit and to dare challenge that is, of course to challenge your faith. seminaries begin with the presumption in the truthfulness of Islam
in the truthfulness of the Quran, in the truthfulness of our Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. seminaries are meant to teach you a path to God, a path to salvation. That's
The whole point hence seminaries are attracting religious minded students religiously motivated faith based. They want to draw closer to their Creator. They want to live a morally and spiritually better life by drawing upon the scripture that they believe in by drawing upon the Shediac. The gnosis of the Quran and Sunnah and genuinely living faith based lives in accordance with their with with the faith of Islam. Obviously, because of this, there's a high reverence for SHA Islam that's understood. There is a high reverence for the Quran for the Sunnah for the Sierra, it would, of course, be completely against the paradigm of the seminary to challenge anything that is Quranic
that's simply not going to happen, or else you're not a believer, it goes against the seminary to question something that might be verified, you know, from the prophesies that I'm that's not even just an orthodox, that's actually blasphemous. But it's not just the texts that are beyond question. Every Seminary is, of course, coming from an established sect, or paradigm, or trend of the faith. Every Seminary is not only Muslim based, it is in its own way sectarian based. And you are not even allowed to challenge that version of Islam, much less the religion of Islam. This is the default of the established seminaries. Now, I'm not talking about some of the modern ones that are popping up
here and there. But the established ones, I stand by what I say the ones that are perceived to be the originals, or the Orthodox or the most prestigious seminaries in the world. They're not just coming from faith based, they're coming from a particular understanding within the faith of that particular faith. So as we're aware, Medina has its own strengths. As HUD has its own strengths. Halloween has its own, each one has a certain flavor, right, and a certain theology and a certain mess, luck, and a certain men NHEJ. And if you don't like that theology, or must look, you shouldn't be there, the goal is not for you to challenge them, the goal is for you to absorb that man hijama
slug, and then to propagate it wherever you go. And that's fine. Again, I'm just being factual here, there's no judgment being given. It is what it is. So of course, if you were to challenge that interpretation of Islam, then the question arises, should you even be at that seminary or not? And I'll tell you, frankly, and again, I'm just being factual here, that when I was at the University of Medina, a particular student was discovered to be another strand of Islam, but the majority strand, right. And this was his third year of an undergraduate. And a complaint was launched at the, you know, university that this person is not subscribing to our particular understanding. And he was
questioned, and then expelled from the university, for the fault of basically not conforming to that particular understanding of the faith. Now, again, I mean,
I don't see this as potentially negative or positive, isn't it is what it is the seminary should be clear in its goals. And it was clear in his goals, by the way, that we want you to believe in this understanding, if you do not respect, you know, the persona of Ibn Taymiyyah. If you do not subscribe to you know, the persona of your job, you shouldn't really be here, that was very clear. The student and the third year, confides to another that he's actually not sympathetic, that student turns out to be very sympathetic. And so one thing leads to another and So lo and behold, not surprisingly, you know, the first student is was no longer a student. This happened in my own time,
and I knew the people involved with the the people I knew them at the time. So the point is that the seminary, understandably, again, it is what it is, it wants to preserve what it deems to be orthodoxy and orthopraxy. You do not get to decide or redefine, or renegotiate orthodoxy and orthopraxy. If you do so, while you're a student, well, fair game for you to no longer be a student. And if you do so, after you leave the seminary, it is very likely that the seminary will distance itself from you, and will make excuses or whatnot about you not really be happy at your trajectory, because you from their perspective, have failed the goal that the seminary was designed for, and we
have seen this, I have seen this, you know, multiple places around the globe. The Academy, on the other hand, makes no such pretenses about itself. It really has no concern about your personal morality, about your personal whether even you're a believer or not, whether you're committed, you know, or you're not committed to any particular faith. Rather, the academy aims to produce what it views to be what it views to be unbiased.
searchers. Hence, there is no claim for reverence of the text, there is no claim for reverence of the subjects studied. And generally you are totally free to posit any idea you wish and challenge whatever you wish as long as according to their standards, you do so from within their own paradigm. Therefore, the questions that one may ask in the seminary are radically different than the questions that one may even ask in a western tradition. And the responses that are given within the madrasa will be radically different than the responses given within the academy, the academy as a rule shiz away from asking any questions that are deemed to be beyond the scope of study, for example, you
will never be taught the actual reality of whether God exists or not, or whether he's sent a prophet or not, whether the Quran is the actual book of God or not. That's not what the academy is interested in. What you have decided or not, the academy believes that that is a personal choice. Now, one small point here. While the academy claims to be unbiased in this regard, and by and large, the assertion is true, one must consider that at some level, there is no such thing as a lack of biases at some level, your biases are demonstrated. And whatever presumptions you have permeate throughout the types of research that you do. So I'll give you one simple example. Now the academy
claims that it's not going to take a stand whether the Quran is from Allah or not, but one of the most hot topics of research with regards to the Quran right now for those of you that are studying Quranic studies, you should be aware of this one of the most current subjects of research about the Quran. And multiple books have been written by people we both know and colleagues of ours and whatnot, are the parallels between the Quran and the Syriac legends of the timeframe right before the Quran. Now the Sumerian nursery the academy doesn't explicitly say anything, but the very fact that this is the hottest topic of research right now, multiple monographs have been written about
the little Curonian story about other you know, legends found in Syriac sources or in far eastern sources that mirror the Quran, or even Hadith literature. Of course, the assumption which is never quite said, but it's quite clear is that the Quran is the product of human history of influence that these legends are circulating around and you know, the author of the Quran they don't verbalize this explicitly, but that's what they say, the author of the Quran, subconsciously or directly, you know, mimicked what was found outside now again, it's you would, you would be hard pressed to find a professor who actually spells it out for you in this simplistic manner. Yet still, there are many
academics and professors who have established a name for themselves in entire conferences take place, about the similarities between Quranic motifs, Quranic stories, organic legends, Quranic languages, Quranic phrases, and between what is found, you know, pre Islam, and the assumption is quite clear, even though it is never verbalized. So the notion that the academy is totally unbiased, is simply not there, because you cannot have any research that is totally unbiased. Nonetheless, truth be told, the biases of the Academy are markedly less. And our biases, call them biases, I don't mean a negative by it. They're quite blatant and clear. And they should be as Muslims, we
believe in certain things, these are going to be publicly said, and there's going to be shibboleths there's going to be red lines that are not crossed. Now, this doesn't mean that either one of the two is necessarily stronger than the other. No, I think we can actually quite clearly delineate strengths of the madrasa and weaknesses of the mother of a we can delineate strengths of the academy, the weaknesses of the academy. And the goal. My goal in particular, is to merge between these two, the goal is to produce a new version that a synthesis synthesis that takes the best of both of these worlds and produces minds produces thinkers will forgetting an earlier ma that can
traverse both worlds with confidence and that's something that inshallah we're seeing happening in front of our very eyes and hope Inshallah, you know, CIS has a hope Israel as well as you know, with the same vision and mind. So what are some of the strengths of the academy and the madrasa? Well, let's begin with the madrasa system, the most obvious strength of the madrasa system of any Islamic seminary, whether it's in Turkey, whether it's in Jakarta, whether it is in Islamabad, whether it's in Medina, whether it is in Qatar, the most obvious strength of the Islamic system is the encyclopedic grasp of all of the Islamic sciences that any graduate must have. It is both
encyclopedic in scope and in depth. You cannot graduate from
Any madrasa. You cannot graduate from any reputable Islamic Studies school
in any Muslim country without studying every single branch of Islam to a level of familiarity that would allow you to read on your own. And then typically you would specialize in one or two of the disciplines. Now in my time in Medina and I know from my time things have changed dramatically, I think for the worse in terms of in terms of the strength of our curriculum. I'm very happy I graduated when I did, and my time we had the old school system, which was the equivalent of 25 credit hours, right? When I was in my engineering degree in Houston, you were not allowed to take more than 18 You maximum you couldn't take more than 18 hours. In Medina for all 10 years, we were
forced to take the equivalent of 25 credit hours, we had 15 professors teaching us 15 different subjects and we're doing all of them were tune or classical. We're studying actual methods, we went over Alfia mnemonic, line by line, we went over books of fit, we went over, you know we diatom which day we went over, could always included Hadith, we went over the country visitor. This is encyclopedic. And I was in the College of Hadith. But I had six hours of fit every week, I had three hours of Loja every week, doesn't matter if I'm in Hadith. If I'm a graduate of the University of Medina, I had better know all of the sciences of Islam cover to cover to a basic level. Similarly,
those in the college of law would still do masala Hadith, one hour short, I had five hours, but still they would do it, and they will do it cover to cover. No matter what college you graduated from, you would have to do all of the disciplines of Islam. And yes, the college you were in, you would specialize more. So Phil would do or soil and Phil more than we would. But we would do also like Phil and Phil as well. So the point is that going through any Islamic seminary, you must be exposed to all of the major disciplines of Islam. And you must be exposed to the classical scholarship written of in that particular genre. Now, there is simply no equivalent in the western
Academy. I mean, no, there is no comparison. In the Western Academy, it is neither the goal nor even is it feasible for the Western Academy to engage with all of the sciences of Islam. Hence, it is extremely rare to find the breadth of understanding of all of the major sciences that one finds in a basic madrasa graduate. We're talking about professors, so professors, many professors of Islamic Studies, frankly, wouldn't even know a fraction outside of their actual to hustle soft areas of discipline, then a mother as a student does. And because of this, the propensity to make mistakes, when you speak outside of your field is actually much much higher. So you it's quite easy for a
person trained in a madrasa environment to find mistakes even have touched on top notch professors when they speak outside of their areas of expertise. So this is definitely one of the strengths of the Madras system. Another strength of the madrasa system is the fact that you are required to memorize everything that you study.
The Quran, of course, Hadith that's understood, I mean, you can't be an island without being a half of being able to quote any AI off the top of your head without knowing the Kutub Asuna. If you're even if you're not ready to graduate, you'd better know enough Hadith to know your religion, right? As for us in the College of Hadith, we had to memorize hundreds I forgot even how much like over the course of four years we memorize 1000s of a hadith literally off the top of our head, we had to do that. That's the College of heavy and in fact, in our case, we even had to know the isnaad names I was because if somebody if my teacher asked me who is you know, a certain amount everything about
how long you have to know, it's not just like, is there an outage? I'm gonna let him know who he was you have to know who the person is, and a rough death date and whatnot. memorization of all the disciplines right you know, memorize the mosquito masala Hainault Olivia diplomatic if you're able to do so. And example of the Quran, for example, right, the karate students is that they have to memorize all 10 Karate off the top of their of their head. And remember and of course, that's very common. It's not it's not a strange phenomenon. I mean, we all know people in the recorded Quran that had memorized all of the Quran. I remember meeting a specialist in the Academy, a non Muslim,
who has actually achieved a name for himself writing about the Quran. I don't want to mention names in this talk. But probably one of the most famous names right now in the western Academy, non Muslim guy who's writing papers about the Quran.
And I asked him like, how do you
No these kilowatts, he said I have to look them up, I said, You do realize that our guys in Bettina, they know all 10 With all the wires and all the total off the top of their head. And I said to me as a friend of mine, like friendly, I said to him, I actually feel sorry for you that every time you have to look up a camera, you have to go back to the books of Danny and the books have a jersey of New Jersey and the books of you know the Kerala art and and actually reference them you don't know off the top of your head. You know what the particular camera is whatnot here it says and what do you know, the camera or the chronometer shutter? Tisha, you have no idea. And I have more friends
than I can count, who know this off the top right there. So this is definitely one of the strengths of the madrasa system is that they expect you to memorize everything you studied to a level that you don't have need your books for a basic talk right? Now obviously, you know, depending on your own level, not every student memorizes every method, so I'll be fair here, but we all know in the madrasa system, the top 10% of students, right, they memorize everything. And you become an Allameh by being a Hatfield have massive amounts of Mattoon more than one share of pre Islamic poetry and so on and so forth. So again, that's the strength of the madrasa. The Academy couldn't care less about
your level of memorization. In fact, there is no such thing as a closed book exam. They don't want you to memorize it's actually insulting for them for you to memorize, you're expected to know the places not to know the facts. And I remember my comprehensive exams at Yale.
Of course, I was happy as a student like, yeah, there's no such thing as a closed book, you go to the library, and you answer the questions, right? So the questions were given, I mean, if Medina they had done that, so it's been totally different. You're expected to go to the library. This is the comprehensives of the PhD. This is like you know, the examination of your life. Sure, go to library and look up as much as you want.
Very different system, there is no memorization required. And this is definitely a strength of the of the madrasa a strength of the madrasa which again, has to be said here is you can't graduate from any madrasa in any land. And I mean, a proper mother's, of course, madrasahs are tears, right? We're not talking about you know, the the street mothers or the local, we're talking about the most reputable mothers of every land, no matter which land you're in, you know, whether it is Malaysia, whether it is you know, Africa, whether it is Turkey, you will have to learn Arabic inside out, maybe not to the level of speaking a holdover, but at least understanding reading and writing,
right, because as you know, there's four aspects of language, right? Reading, Writing, the word in terms of being an island. Sure, you don't have to speak Arabic fluently. There are many Erodium, around the world who are speaking as the most difficult, but they can read the most advanced text, they can read it fluently, as if they are, in fact sometimes more fluently than native Arabs of modern times. Because As you're all aware, modern Arabic is radically different than classical Arabic, and no Arlin worth his salt, you know, will not be aware of classical Arabic, right? So this is definitely a strength. Now.
In the academy, people are shocked to discover the average professor of Islamic Studies struggles to read basic Arabic. It is shocking and they can't understand how can you have a PhD, and you can't read the fetal poverty without a dictionary without hands were next to you. You can't read a most basic book of history without googling phrases, right? This is inconceivable for the Madras a student. They really are shocked, like when they discovered this point here. And I'll tell you an anecdote that again, that happened to me. And this is Eyewitness to this again, I don't mention any names in this talk. But one of the senior most professors known in the world today, right? Taught
me, you know, at yo and I like the guy's a nice guy is a friend of mine. He's a very friendly guy, but obviously he's not a Muslim. He's not been through. And he's written monographs. He's tenured. I mean, like the big name in whatever field he's in. And I remember sitting in class, this is my first year in from Medina. And we had a class with him about for dinner, Razia the entire by the way, the entire class would probably in Razi, right is amazing. We'll get to this point one of the positives an entire semester about one person like wow, but what we'll get to this point, but in that class, we're going over stuff some difficulty in ROTC quoted item kursi.
And this professor was reading in his Akik Arabic is broken Arabic lot who sunnah tune. Wallah known then he translated no
All habitual action can be characterized by God or asleep.
I'm like looking around in class. There's three other students like When did he just
professor? It's latter who who sinner and sinner means precursors of sleep. Oh, okay. He puts him custo Cena. Okay.
Now people are shocked when they hear things like this. But it is what it is like he's never heard AYATUL kursi the way we have okay. And he hasn't mastered he tried his lip read you understand this Saina as sunnah, because he's more aware of sunnah then Sina. And so he says sunnah, he invents a new era of the Quran. Here you go. But anyway, Arabic, definitely it is shocking for most people to hear this, but it is truth. And from their perspective, they don't need it. And you'll see why because their paradigm is different, their will suit is different, their its research is different, you know. So these are definitely three strengths of the madrasa the encyclopedic scope and breadth
of teaching, memorization and a mastery of Arabic, the Academy also has strengths and the strengths are not shown in the madrasa system of the strengths of the academy number one, and this is without a doubt in my opinion, the strongest strength of the academy is that the academy brings in the context of ideas and movers and shakers and thinkers and intellectuals and changes. The Academy brings in the political, the cultural, the social context, you situate what's going on in the greater narrative. So that you are better equipped to understand why what is happening is happening.
That is almost absent from most madrasas, you study an author, you study, another author, you study a third author, you barely know the years that they live and die, you have no idea of the societies they have been in raised in and the influences of the people around them. I remember again, when I was applying, you know, to to various programs. Again, this is 2003 2004 When I was applying, right, and I got accepted to a number of places, including Oxford, which I didn't go to obviously and yeah, Michelle was the really nice guy. And he was happily showing me a new article he had just published there was called a mum look theologians response to Avicennia in theology, and by mum, Luke
theologian, he meant Ibn Taymiyyah. And I didn't recognize mum Luke theologian meant Ibn Taymiyyah because even though I had studied Edmund Tamia, left and right, and I've read 10 books of his, we never cared to memorize that he's under the mumble loose, and that that might have ended the cruise the invasion of the Mongol Empire might have had an impact. This is completely de linked. We're simply studying Halloween, the Halloween that the Moriya we're studying it covered a cover, right? We're going over it line by line. But never once were we taught who even told me it was as a person, what era he lived in, what conflicts happened that really might have shaped him. Who were the
Salatin, the mum, Luke's what were the rise and fall. And Professor Hamish Oh, great guy, intellectual mind. For him. It's the most natural thing in the world. Among look, the origins response to been seen, as you know ever sent is, you know, philosophy and whatnot. So my point being that
the contextualization of what's happening, the study of history, the way that it's taught in the academy is almost absent from the madrasa. Frankly, and this is one of my biggest critiques. I hope this isn't thinking the wrong way. But too often, our history is hagiography and not history.
Our history becomes mythology. You will not your eulogy, just like these stereotypical beatific tropes, this glorious, romanticized past that never actually existed. And we are taught a version, a skewed version of history that doesn't teach us facts. And the average Muslim much less mother as a student is dismally unaware of actual history. And I think this is a problem because our religion is divined but our history is human. Our history is very human. And we've had a lot of ups, we've also had a lot of downs. And if we don't learn from the downs, we don't learn from the negatives, well, then we're going to end up repeating them. So definitely the academy strongly emphasizes political
science and history, sometimes too much. For example, once again, a midterm. He has my area of expertise. So I mean, I've studied a lot about him and how the West has viewed him, for example, I mean, there is a trend with me and scholarship amongst atheists to psychoanalyze Ibn Taymiyyah. And to say that one
One of the reasons why even Taymiyah was such a quote unquote hardliner again. That's how, you know, they view him whether you view him like that or not is besides the point of my talk, but why he's such a hardliner is because he's absorbing the the external political crises of his time, the Mongol invasion, the collapse of the busted empire, he's absorbing the trauma taking place, externally, right, and then internalizing it theologically,
and demarcating sectarian lines very viciously, because he can win that battle. And he can't win the battle against the Mongol invasion. Now, one wonders, is that a little bit too much of a Freudian psychoanalysis? I don't know, you know, but sometimes you do wonder, is it going too far? And perhaps they do. But still, as a beginner, you know, in this talk, let me just say, I think for sure, one of the best things I've benefited from, is that every time I study anything, I will also study the context around it, I'm going to study why it's taking place, what's going on simultaneously, what might have impacted it, because I think that is a part of understanding, you
know, the evolution of ideas, intellectual history. So this is definitely strength number one of the academy, the second strength of the academy. And they give this as clearly a strength as well, is that it emphasizes cross cultural and multilingual references and contexts. And I remember again, when I, you know, when I got accepted to Yale, and I was told, I have to learn, you know, French and German. And I'm like, why I'm doing a PhD on even Tamia and Islamic Studies. And I have to learn one other Near Eastern language, choose Turkish or or Farsi. And I really like I not argue, but I went like back, do I really have to do this? It's the law of our universe do you have to, so I ended up
learning French and German for reading, I have no idea how to speak them, but French, and took two years of Farsi, right? And again, at the time, why, why, why. But then you start reading the articles written in these other languages, and you start reading books written about topics, history, whatnot. And then you realize that oh, wow, every offer, every civilization has its output. And if you do go beyond your one culture, you open up new vistas, new ideas.
And the academy forces you to humble yourself, that is not just your thought, kapha. It's not just your people, it's not just your language, there's lots to benefit. And you'd better realize that there's things written in other languages that you need to know and benefit from. And, you know, at the time, for those of you who know your Islamic theology,
obviously, the name of Van as you know, comes up all the time, and tulagi and Gesellschaft, which has just been translated six volumes, right? When I was at yield, it had not yet been translated, just been translated, you know, so you can get it now by brill, I think or something or whatever. $700 or whatever it is a standard real prices. But at the time, it was still in German. And I was studying German at Yale. And I was going over the six volume encyclopedia of Islamic acleda of the second and third century Hijra. That's the title of the six volumes, right? Basically Islamic society and theology and culture in the 102, hundreds of Hijra. And I realized there is nothing like
this in the Arabic language, nothing. Look up any theologian and pages and pages of encyclopedic references that already been hammered walsim. And I thought, you know, John, we've been so far on pages and pages, and an entire encyclopedia, not just of theologians, but of thinkers of scientists, of doctors, and everybody who knows the book knows its value. And again, you realize, well, if I don't learn German, I'm not going to have access to this knowledge. So one of the things that it does is that you begin to see the cross cultural and the multilingual references, the source materials, we are taught in the academy. We are taught in the academy, that not only must you go
back to the original, whether it's even Taymiyah, whether it's YouTube, whether it's even hydrated, whether it's, you know, a soda, what are they, but you also need to see how later people interpreted Ibn Taymiyyah interpreted. So what are the interpreted Azadi and you see the evolution of interpretations which will then help you in your interpretation. And this to me was again, mind blowing simple conceptually, but not practice in our madrasa. We go straight back to Ibn Taymiyyah, and we jump over 700 years of scholarship. What that does is you can misinterpret the author easily or you can have novel reinterpretations which frankly, we're seeing in certain strands of stuff. I
don't want to go there today, but it becomes easy to reinterpret that which might not
Yuri interpretable because you have cut off tradition, you've cut off too rough, you've cut off scholarship, as if it doesn't exist. And what the Academy does, it forces you to read through all of the scholarship before you form your own mind, know what others have said, go ahead and agree and disagree, but see what the reception has been see how he has been interpreted by other people so that you can then assess the merits of your own interpretation. And I think this is again, very, very important to contextualize your own thoughts, to have the opportunity to engage in conversation with other intellectuals from other civilizations, other cultures, whom you can agree or disagree
with, and even in their mistakes, it'll help you formulate your own minds, Oh, I see why he misunderstood alkazi Why he formed this view. And when you engage with other minds, you become a better thinker. So I think this is definitely one of the strengths of the academy. As we're all aware, in the academy. If you're in the academy, you cannot write even a graduate paper without referencing in the footnotes, all of the major authors who have come before you
authors that are your generation. Whereas in the madrasa doesn't matter what people have done to your generation, much less even previous generation, you can go straight back to the source wherever the source is, and then reinterpret as you choose. So this is another strength, I would say, a third strength of the Academy,
which is also a potential negative, but it's also a strength is source criticism,
historical analysis. Now this is a very, very contentious point.
to accept everything you have been taught.
Now, as a Muslim, I say I have no problems accepting Allah and His Messenger SallAllahu sallam.
But it's not just the Quran and Sunnah. It's the interpretation of your teachers of the Quran and Sunnah. You are not allowed to dare challenge their interpretation.
Forget somebody, you know, bigger than them now, in the academy. They welcome
source criticism, they welcome a healthy dose of skepticism. They welcome you to challenge based upon obviously, their paradigm of knowledge and also not the challenges that are nothing but they're welcoming new ideas. And
I'll give you a simple example again from my ma dissertation. So again, I spent four years studying this guy, right gentlemen, so far, I spent four years studying this guy. And one of the things I discovered, which ironically, Richard and Frank did not have, and it actually helps his his his dissertation or his his idea, by the way, is that Jehovah and so one might have been studied from a particular person who was a student of John of Damascus, who was basically a NEO Platanus I didn't know the term Neo Platanus at the time, by the way, but I discovered this you know, that he studied with someone so he said it with your higher your hand, the missionary John of Damascus was a very
famous church father and is a Neoplatonist right. So I discovered this and so Okay, so, of course in the medina phase, I'm like, this is an isnaad. That goes back to you know, a non Muslim source. Clearly this guy's getting these ideas. I didn't have Neo Platonism but actually hit the nail on the head when I said he's getting these ideas from John of Damascus. That's what I wrote. Okay, he's getting Jehovah so far is getting his ideas from John of Damascus. This is in my memory, you can find it in my Monaka in my you know, was it Aviva the examination at the end, right. One of the one after she and one of the examiners said, you wrote here that he got his ideas from John of Damascus,
men, Saba, aka Illa, Harada, who preceded you in saying this? I said, Sure. The by theory, I discovered it myself. It goes Allah cool, and how the mushkil you bring something new, is problematic. Nobody before you said this, like I was literally criticized for bringing a new statement, in fact, because the goal of that Institute, frankly, and not just a minute, I'm not I'm not criticizing that one is students, the foot alum, I'm saying, You are expected to replicate and copy and paste. You're expected to have a level of reverence to totally forget challenging, you can't even bring something new. without raising eyebrows. Who exactly are you to bring something new
man and to Osland? I mean, they didn't say that. But that's the mindset, right? How can you bring with nobody before you was there? No way was there. Potamia did that. Have you mentioned this? How are you finding this out? I said, he's not challenging my source. He's challenging me for bringing something new. Now, as you're all aware of the academy welcomes novel ideas. Maybe too much welcoming, but still, you are asked to bring something new to the table. And so the notion of being more
are skeptical the notion of not trusting. And again, I mean, I have so many anecdotes of of this regard that, of course, it raises epistemological issues because, you know,
again, much can be said here, but much of my thesis in Medina, I realized, I'm basically accepting what a seventh eighth ninth Hijiri century author might be writing about a second century figure without questioning that person. Right? So for example, my mother happy we love and respect him, great Ireland, great record scholar. But in the end of the day, what are the hubby says about somebody 600 years before Him should not be taken as a fact.
It's not a contemporaneous? Where's his source? Where did he get it from? Also, again, with utmost love and respect to our great scholars, but when it comes to sectarian issues, we have to be little bit careful what one sect says about another. There's an inherent bias. It's not it's not an evil biases, inherent bias, right? So we just have to be a little bit more. And we saw this, you know, right, yeah, Ryan, I mean, I, I saw this multiple times and other research that I've done, it's human nature, when you want to paint an enemy in a negative way, you're gonna mention the most, you know, not positive facts, and not necessarily, say an untruth, but not necessarily give you the full
picture as well. And that's human nature. It's nothing wrong with that I'm not trying to criticize it is what it is right? And the academy forces you to take these things into account, and forces you to rethink through, why are you accepting this as a fact when it might be coming out of a misunderstanding or whatever it might be. So the point being that, you know, the Academy does ask you to be a little bit more skeptical. Now, of course, in that skepticism is positive and negative. And let me just conclude with some final thoughts from the Nichelle to have a fruitful discussion. With with all of you here, of course, there is a big elephant in the room between the Academy and
And that is that the both of them
view the other in a very unfavorable light, there is a almost hostile view of the other. And as somebody who's been on both sides of the fence, I think that hostility is actually unhealthy for knowledge.
from my personal experience, that I have benefited immensely from both paradigms. And personally, on a personal note, I thank Allah for having blessed me with both of these paradigms, and I wouldn't be who I am without both of these paradigms. But I'll also mention that while I was in each paradigm, each one strongly criticized the other, to the point of anathematized, it like, obviously, the mother of the system, is extremely hostile to the academy extremely hostile. And the version or vision they have of the academy is basically I'm sorry to say this, but a bunch of is another, you know, like, people who are out to destroy their religion, there is no head in them at all. And I'm
still asked this, despite the fact has been almost 20 years since I've been, you know, accepted dealer, but it's still I'm asked this, you studied with non Muslims, your professors didn't believe in Islam? How could you go study with him? There are Khufu hours, how could you study with them? Right? And in fact, in my particular case, not only am I question, but one of the easiest ways to dismiss a critic of mine, who wants to dismiss me, in anything that I've done, only needs to mention, oh, he studied at Yale.
That is the refutation. He is no longer a good person. He's been corrupted by those people. All right. So it becomes very ad hominem. And actually, it's effective amongst many groups of people, large groups of the Muslims, if they don't like something, you say, Have you reached a view or a point to somebody that they don't like, rather than engage with what is said they will simply dismiss you Oh, hello, Sandy, rubber to you know, hello. Seems like he has been corrupted by
the system. Now, obviously. I mean,
and that's a dumb idea. What was the saying goes right, if you don't know what it is, you're going to easily hate it. But again, Flipside. I've been in the academy.
There is strong suspicion of the academy against the mother as a students. There is a dismissal of the fact that a mother as a student might possibly be a critical thinker. There is definitely definitely an arrogance. Not in every single person, but perception is there that what is this guy going to benefit? He's a he's a he's a fundamentalist.
And actually, to be honest, I have experienced this myself as well. Your research can be dismissed within the academy,
if it appears to defend, like, for example, I have critiqued some of these notions of you know, Syriac legends of the Quran have attended conferences I was I was
I have given my views and whatnot. And you find the mumblings. oh this guy's a preacher.
This guy studied in Medina. So ironically, each side dismisses the other dismisses me because of my other background, right? So the ad hominem goes both ways. You would think the academy should be better, no will lie. It's not. It is not better. And it is very and you know, the first person actually said this to me way before I was in the academy is a person who was very fortunate to have met press, you've heard of him, Dr. Mustafa Al Azami, Dr. Mustafa Asami, when the King Faisal award back in the 80s, the Hadith guy, right. And Allah humbly passed away. When I was a chemical drink student I studied with him a little bit. I studied it with him when I was an engineering student in
in America. And he said to me, that his PhD dissertation, which was a defense of Hadith and reputation of shocked, right, that his dissertation, he felt hurt, that was dismissed by the Academy, because he was a practicing Muslim. And, oh, this is just, you know, polemics. This is just apologetics. This is somebody who's just defending the faith. And he was like, but refute what I'm saying. Not the fact that I'm a believer. And I remember this when I was 19 years old, I heard this from him, and
had offered that I had right. And subhanAllah 20 years later, when I was in the academy, that phrase would come back. And I saw this myself throughout your life. And I still see this. And I'll be honest here. I mean, I resigned from the academy, because
multiple reasons, but of them is that I felt that somebody as public as I am in the preaching and teaching side, and they're inside, that I don't have a place in the western Academy. And this actually another factor happened, not necessarily about the academics. But
how should I say this? Well, I'm in Alhamdulillah, Muslim land, but let's just say morality, issues of a sexual nature, if you understand what I'm saying, the positions that we take as believing Muslims, is worthy of cancellation. Do you guys understand? Or is it like, do I spell it out more?
Is that good enough? I'm not getting in trouble here. And you guys, okay, just making sure okay?
To hold normative views of the family, let's put it that way,
is deemed to be akin to racism.
And if you publicly hold such beliefs,
and if you give hot buzz in your masjid, which I do about normative Abrahamic notions of morality and family, this will haunt you in the academy.
This will haunt you in the academy. And this happened to me even after I left the Academy, I will tell you something that happened to me last year.
I posted on Facebook about this new organization in Dallas that was
saying that Muslims, they're trying to prove that Islam accepts certain alphabets.
You get the point. And I wrote a Facebook post. And I said, Listen, if you guys want to say whatever you want about your political culture, that's your business. The minute you say, Islam, I'm sorry. We're I'm going to speak up here. And I had a very long post is still online, and a very long post. As Muslims we have morality, we believe certain things are not allowed. And even if somebody does them, consider it a sin between you and Allah, but for you to say it's halal and justified and what really irritated me stuff or lustful Allah, this person said, the prophet system accepted such people are with a bit of that will lie this made my blood boil. And so I wrote a very blunt post,
don't bring my profit system into this, do whatever you want. And Allah will be your judge. You between you and Allah your sins, okay? Don't bring in my profit system into this that and this was supposed to be a Muslim. And, you know, my son got this on campus, his you know, there was an MSA that's on that type of idea, not the main MSA you know, there's multiple groups. There was another group that claimed to be Muslim, and they're handing this out. My son brought this on looked at what their the Muslim student one Muslim girl group has got. It made my blood boil. I wrote a long post. I was supposed to present at a conference. I'm not going to be too specific but in a European
country, about event me in the mythique, something like that.
I got an email from them that somebody reported this post of yours. And we we will withdraw your your, your your paper and your presentation. Because we don't want any controversy and potentially, you know, homophobic accusations isn't that we don't want this and this is, you know, European country and whatnot. And I wrote back even Tamia and the mythique what is that got to do with
this Facebook post, Facebook,
my other recommendation
so Hamdulillah, I mean, I can't be in the academy, if they're not going to allow me to be a preacher to my own community, right? To preach basic morality, and basic whatnot. So until the end again, but see, my, my case is different, because I'm a very public preacher, right. And it does send a chilling message to most graduate students that are Muslims and PhDs or Muslims. And in fact, I was told this by a very
nice mentor, and chef and reputable professor, I don't wanna mention his name, but he's in the academy. And you know, when I first got a secretary to yell, he pulled me aside, he was visiting from another institute. And he goes, Look, my advice to you, for 10 years, keep your mouth shut. Don't give any hope bows and arrows,
do your dissertation, write your papers, get tenure, then say what you will. He said this to me when I got accepted to you. And I thought to myself, and I thought, and I thought I said,
I didn't study in the city of the prophets of cinema and memorize the Quran and get ijazah and, and become who I became just to be quiet for 10 years, I'm not going to do that.
So I continued giving my Dawa, and I continued doing the academy Hamdulillah I got to a certain level, but then I had to make a choice personally, because it was impeding. And I think to this day, there is an issue in the western academy that certain topics really are taboo. And if you really go there, then you will have problems. And this is definitely, you know, an elephant in the room. But nonetheless, to conclude here,
let me just say that
being in both of these fields, has caused me to appreciate the both of them in a better manner. And I am now a firm believer that more Muslims need to study in the academy, and that our mother says need to revamp their curriculums both needs to take place. And that a third space needs to be created for practicing Muslims, to be trained in a mud rasa setting with the critical tools of the academy.
This is something that is essential for the future of our ummah.
Alhamdulillah in America, we have the Islamic seminary, I'm doing something like this, I believe you are also doing something similar. But the world has changed. It's now a village really is. And I say this with utmost love and respect to our Allama Wallahi there is no disrespect. But there is a reason why there is a perception that our alumni are disconnected from the world. There's a reason why. And this can be changed. If we revamp the curriculum Wallahi it's not the fault of the aroma. It's our fault as well. Because we need to put soft pressure on them rather than cut them off and discard them and and consider them to be obsolete. And modelers know, it's our job as well to get
them with the program. And it's also not their fault, because in the end of the day, frankly, colonization did impact this once upon a time, our best and brightest minds became odema. Once upon a time, I mean, what is a lawyer other than a foggy, right? Once upon a time, you had the horizontes that have been Tamia, you can agree and disagree with them as much as you want. You cannot doubt the spark of intelligence in their minds, read their books, and they're geniuses, right? The best and brightest minds came to Islamic Studies. And they shown in Islamic Studies. Let's be brutally honest here. And I speak as a believing Muslim loving my faith and tradition and loving our scholars. Where
do the best and brightest minds of the Muslim ummah go to Islamic Studies? Let's be brutally honest here, you know, and I know where they go to. So
like you input a certain mindset, you will output the same mindset. Don't blame them, our own children, where do we send them? Which disciplines do they go into? Now? I'm not saying don't get go into engineering medicine. No, but for every four or five six that go into engineering and medicine, at least send one to Islamic Studies right? For every 10 that go to Ivy League's for
all of the disciplines of the humanities and marketing and management, send one top notch intellectual thinker, send one to become a different type of how they're brutally honest, we can criticize them as much as we want. Have we attempted to change the system? Have we attempted to bring our best and brightest minds so that they can change? And reform from within? The answer to that question should cause us to be a little bit more silent about blaming others, because I think all of us share responsibility. To conclude my talk on the anecdote, I began, sure all that there is brightness. So when I finished up at Yale, and I was going to start my career elsewhere, I decided
on a whim,
to go back to the library and read Richard and Frank's article on the up tourism of Jehovah so far, six years have gone by since then, right. So I decided to read it again, after all of those years. And that Hamdulillah, I'm very happy to say that not only did I understand the entire article,
I agreed with the basic premise, I found a number of small mistakes that I think should have done, I had a lot more references that he totally missed out. And I had the notional idea that one day, I should write the exact same article, the new Platonism agenda, so one, part two by acid quality, I still haven't done that. But I really want to do that one day, to show that this can be done and somebody who can go through both systems and become better Inshallah, to enter for it. In the end, we ask Allah subhanaw taala for a class and tofield, we ask Allah subhanho wa taala, to guide us to be those role models of the past that we look up to, to be modern versions of them for our times,
while mitofit, the illa Billah, which is akmola. Inshallah, with that we can open the floor for q&a, your discretion, slowly, thank you very much.
I was gonna going to take my privilege as moderator and ask you a question, but you kind of answered it at the end. But so I'm gonna slightly rephrase it a little bit. All right. So here we are, we are in
many resources have been put into, into constructing this and we want, we want institutions that can advance Muslim cultures, both in the meet and greet individuals who are at the heads of the sciences that are developed in the western Academy, and the fields of knowledge developed in the western Academy. And at the same time, there is a desire to have individuals who are within Islamic studies that can address contemporary issues, and even addressed what we might call the issue, something that we haven't really done. I mean, this is one of the big issues, you know, you go through classical Islam, and you always have Murata bloom. And and every new generation, they go through
this, this, this this process, because there are new sciences. And yet, we really haven't been able to do that. In the post Enlightenment period, Muslims haven't been able to do that. So what could we do with a project, like Islamic study like like education cities, or to produce hula mat, who could actually give us that kind of paradigmatic worldview we're in, we're able to see the relationships between all of the sciences from within a paradigm that is informed by the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet saw so
much can be done. And I think, what I've seen and what I've heard of Qatar, in general, in particular, you know, your project here Subhanallah, you're an ideally situated place to do this. Islamic civilization and culture, a genuine love of the religion, along with mashallah the most cutting edge universities and professors and departments over here, you are well suited for such a program, what needs to be done is an aggressive vision of harmonizing between the affiliate and nakliyat. So in the room a lot clearer in the sciences, right? There's got to be an understanding that let me give you a simple example. I'm involved with a number of projects here. So in Pakistan,
you know, the last administration invited me to talk about some education stuff. So we're talking at university, their management system and whatnot. And they had an entire class on leadership and management. I said, You know what, I'm writing a book right now, it should be published a shoulder this year in sha Allah Insha Allah, about leadership skills from the Sierra of the prophets of Allahu Allah, he was seven. I said to them, this is a Muslim country, all your students are Muslim here, right? Along with all of these cutting edge management stuff, put one just one, one class about the Syrah of the prophecies. I mean, surely, why are we embarrassed to admit this? Don't we
agree that the good
Read as leader in all of human history was our Nibi. And Ross was awesome. I mean, even from religion aside, what he accomplished from a secular perspective is unparalleled. He changed the course of history, he brought forth a new faith and ideology that shook the world to its core, he brought the Sassanid Empire to an end and carved out the Byzantine Empire, his people Subhanallah that, so even if you're not a religious person at some non Muslims in the campus, they're going to benefit from that, why are we embarrassed? What is there to be embarrassed about? Claim your heritage. So they were very intrigued and we started talking back and forth. Things happen that
probably were that country that is not there anymore to that level, but talk had begun. Why not do something like this on the Islamic study site as well. One of our biggest problems and I say this with utmost love and respect, is the copy paste mentality. We just have to go back and copy and paste and copy and paste simple example. When you study Islamic theology. Any book you study will be written at least 1000 or 700 years ago, I'm sorry, I speak as an expert and I pray that this is my master and doctorate and upgrader everything written pre modernity is irrelevant to my teenagers, irrelevant. What have the SIFAT controversy got to do with modern Islam? What has the Halacha core
issue got to do with the realities of issues today? My my children's generation is dealing with humanism, secularism, liberalism, feminism, gender, sexuality. These are aka the issues, aka the issues, right? My children's generation is dealing with the need for religion in a secular world. Why do we even need morality? Why do we even need to believe in God? Which book of Islamic archy that discusses this? None? Why it's not their fault. They were written for a different time in place. We don't blame for how we are Lazada Rubin to me or anybody for writing what they did. They were products of their time. But why must we simply quote Azadi and Ibn Taymiyyah why can't we walk
the path of Azadi Ibn Taymiyyah one of my biggest criticism from my fellow, you know, graduates of Medina, why do you just quote Ibn Taymiyyah? Why don't you be as brave as him and get the spirit of him and me and do something different? He wrote the Halloween and he wrote the third moody and he wrote the wasa Thea, these are all named after cities that more walsworth hammer, I said in a conference I had in front of 500 Coronavirus, you would come into the trouble. I said if had been Tamia were alive today, he will be writing a New York Kia was Chicago we write well, Los Angeles Ilya. And the questions from New York and Chicago would not be about the SIFAT the questions would
be about a totally different paradigm. Why can't you do that, instead of just quoting me, because I live in to me as if that is the end all and be all, where's the spirit that they had that you admire so much. So we have to have the braveness really, of just embracing that. We don't have to copy and paste from our past. We have to take the spirit that they had, like they address the challenge of their times, and then address so why can't we have a modern book of Athena? Imagine a college student in America? What does he or she need to know about Islamic theology? I can assure you the vast majority of points that we were taught and studied back there, they're irrelevant to this
person completely irrelevant. So why can't the specialists come together and write a new article for the modern mind?
Because I'll tell you why. Because the minute you do so some segments of our own OMA are going to start criticizing How dare you think outside the box? How dare you go again, is how are we good enough to how we is good enough for its time in place. Right. The Moody Walsall Thea Rosati, whoever they might be anyway. So my point is where there was a will there's a way but there must be a willingness to embrace there must be a bravery and courage there must be a realization that we cannot remain ossified and stagnated. Continuing to look back to the past for our solutions. You're not going to find the solutions of secularism event Tamia and Rosati. You're going to have to think
and think, for today's timeframe. Take from the Spirit take from the ideas and ethos, but read modern authors and thinkers and come together as groups and Bismillah. Try formulate this is my response without humbler that we could go on having this discussion, I think for hours, so I will have to cede the floor to all of our guests to allow for for other questions. So there are some individuals with microphones. Do you want to take this microphone? Microphone back here? So yes, back in the back please. And please do make questions and not statements and definitely not diatribes I will cut you off if somebody's Go marching into a statement. Okay.
It's on its own.
Okay, first of all, thank you so much. And then we are pleased to have you in our campus. Just my I have two comments. I have one comment and one question. So you talk about the context and then how the context make the difference between Madras and academia. So, but to my mind, we know that the context is very crucial in understanding interpretation of the scripts, I mean, Islamic and the religious words, but which method and which approach, we could introduce contexts, because in the context, we are talking about different contexts. And then here I'm referring to I mean, the studies of socio linguistics socio pragmatics, and so one in which the socio programmatic is in which we
take into consideration I mean,
the social variables, I mean, the categories that we have, I mean, gender,
age, social class, and so on. All these are contexts. And my second comment is, is that, I don't agree with you, when you said that, we need to, I mean, I'm talking about the parents, we need to put someone of our kids to Islamic Studies, because
I believe that education and orientation is not something mechanical, I mean, like, click and send, it's something which is sociological, I'm here talk, I've been talking about the external motivation, I mean, how to motivate how to open doors for I mean, the future of the people. It's not only psychological, sociological, but also psychological. I mean, who here we need to take them in the people, I mean, type of intelligences, passion, and so on, because it's not mechanical. And they repeat it psychological and sociological, thank you so much. I don't disagree with what you're saying. It's valid point, what I meant was that currently, and again, I'm not, I'm not speaking to
your land here, I don't live here. I'm speaking in American context. And even quite frankly, blocsonic. I've not lived in Pakistan, but I'm speaking in Pakistani context, as well, because I know enough about the culture there. There is a culture of sending your best and brightest minds to disciplines that are non religious. And there is a culture of sending, I don't know how else to say this, not the best and brightest minds. And especially not those that have studied at top notch, you know, high schools, the best graduates of the best high schools are all going to the west to study the sciences, right? Who goes to become a scholar, in most of our countries, is people who don't
understand the world, the way that many other people understand it, they might have had a different type of education, they might have be disconnected from the languages of the world, right? They have not had exposure to what other people have had exposure to when you send in a scholar who doesn't even understand a major global language and who's never lived outside of his village, right?
It's not his fault. But why? Why not find somebody who's more global? Why not find somebody who is more connected with the world? So what I'm trying to say is we have to incentivize amongst our youth, we have to create a culture where they are told, and they're encouraged, and they're places for them to study. Because that's another point. I'll tell you, when I was going to Medina, one of the factors was I'm going to have to give up, you know, my life, my family go far away to a very difficult social life for me and financially, what we have to change the culture for them, right. So that's our job as adults. I'm not saying we force anybody. But surely. Now you again, let's be
honest here, how and I speak again, for my generations children, there is no incentive for them to go down the religious track. But we need people to go down that track. Frankly, we need a lot of people to go through. So that's what I'm saying changing the cultural mindset. Okay. Yes, there's a question over here and then after that every year.
Firstly, we're really honored to have you here and may Allah reward you for your contribution to the Ummah I mean, so I as a graduate of CIS with me just realized after your talk that may we we are situated in between madressa and Academy, a person that handler. So but again, like you mentioned, there are certain things that we have to keep as red lines, for example, you were talking about a pizza. And the minute you touch on that subject, it's like a no, no. So how do we decide what are the red lines? And another one is that when you were talking about the biases that established boundaries, I have sectarian biases are in the academy also trying to push a narrative narrative
that benefits them. So can we really compare the two? This is like okay, that's for a second question. You're
Absolutely right. Even the Academy has its red lines, I give you some of them, right? But their red lines are very different. And you can explore the religion in a different way. So definitely, as I said, there's no such thing as an unbiased person, the least biased person is the one who recognizes his or her own biases. There is no such thing as somebody without any paradigm. There's no such thing as that. But you kind of have levels of bias levels of presumptions, and there's no question that the average madrasa has a lot more presumptions. And that's understandable. I'm not saying they need to completely change that. As for your red lines issue?
That's a very good question. That's a very good question. And it's a question I had to ask myself, explicitly in my mind when I started the program there. Because you're absolutely right. If you allow this to go unchecked,
you can easily lose the faith. And I have to be honest, here, the Academy does have a reputation for
how was to say this shaking the faith of many believers, not just Muslims, by the way, many Christians many, in fact, one of the most famous intellectual Christian pseudo craters, I'm sorry, x question is, is Bart Ehrman, for example, well known his story. He's public about it. Bart Ehrman has one of the most famous right. And he entered Princeton as a hardcore fundamentalist, right? Thinking that and he tells his story multiple times, like the academy basically made it agnostic. And he's no longer a believer, and his books are some of the best books for us Muslims, by the way, because his version of Jesus is the Islamic version. I mean, it's very close to Islamic but anyway,
I know of Muslims, many Muslims, who have either ceased to be Muslim, or whose version of Islam is, in my opinion, not mainstream at all, because of the academy.
It is a problem.
You have to have your red lines, I decided my red lines were very simple.
I will not question the Quran. And I will not question that he salah of our prophets of Allah while he was said, to me, this was my red line.
Everything else I was willing to think and reflect over. I said, I have to this is not going to be fair. I mean, I have to there has to be something. And Hamdulillah I don't mind telling you this as a as a personal thing, I don't tell him that I'm a half of the Quran, every desert in the Quran. I've been reading Quran my whole life. I knew Illuma Leah clean personally, that this book is divine, it's not the speech of Bashar, I don't need any doubts in this. It's something every fiber of my being knows. So I don't need to go there. I'm not interested. And my mind is made up in this regard. Right? And hamdulillah the zeroes in my area of expertise, if you probably know this or not.
But the Sierra I know is that this human being SallAllahu Sydenham, there is no way that he did this by himself, there is no way his success and his love and a billion and a half people love him so passionately. And his entire life, there is no way that he was not divinely aided. So to me, this was the muscle limit, I'm not gonna go there. Right. And so based upon this, these were my red lines, and I achieved these red lines, as I explained based upon your clean yards, not based upon how or what hum or desire based upon your cleaning yet that for me, my fifth row tells me because I do believe in the fifth row, by the way, or to my PhD is chapter three is on the fifth area, the
whole notion of fitrah, I believe there is a source of knowledge that is super rational, right? It's not just our rationality, my pages are clinical. And I did this topic on purpose, because I need to resolve in my own mind, it know, to what level of after another we're going to do. So I firmly believe that Allah endowed all of us with knowledge that is beyond our rationality, right? And that knowledge is intuitive. And that knowledge is definitive, and you're cleaning. And from that knowledge of the fitrah. As I said, for me, these were the Musa limit. So I said, I don't need my uncle to go there, as long as my Fedora has reached this, and I never have gone there at
Hamdulillah. But it's a very good question. And I'm not saying anybody else has to have that message. So maybe you can have broader than this. I don't know it's up to you. But you do have to have some red lines, or else I agree with you, then it does become problematic.
If you don't want I just want to add something to that because of what you said about about being able to actually write books about PETA and Kalaam that address the contemporary issues. And one of the things you and I both went to jail, and we had colleagues there who had the Eman ripped out of their hearts. We go through the process. And and I think that the thing is due to the training that you and I both had before we went into Yale. Not only were we
able to withstand it, but it actually in some ways even strengthened us in our in our resolve. I think in my case, I would say definitely it does strengthen me. My critics think I've been totally gone and lost in colors, but that's their version. Me personally, I'm very happy. But this issue of actually developing on a pida that responds to the issues presented to the Ummah, by post enlightenment, liberal secular humanism, this is something that as an ummah, we have not yet done. And we need to realize it, we have the tools to do it, in terms of the Willamette, and people with the training, but in terms of actually having, you might say, proper institutional frameworks within
which to achieve that, that does not currently exist. And hopefully in sha Allah, places like the College of Islamic studies can become that. Excuse me for interjecting there, but I just wanted to show I hope, so Inshallah, this is the golden shallow control show. So please, the next question, snoring.
Where? Oh, there, okay. Just over here, particularly, for the Zero series, I think, I mean, in terms of understanding knowledge, and knowledge production, I mean, it will situate with the province. So I'm so really grateful for that. Because I think majority of my critique is around the academy, especially having studied and kind of conflicted and
interacting with a lot of the limitations that the Academy provides, especially for example, being being a Muslim woman that covers automatically you're kind of dismissed of any type of objectivity. Because they use their their assumption is that if you subscribe to the hijab, then automatically you're not objective. So you mentioned how their academy prioritizes the context, but it's kind of ironic because they don't consider the post enlightenment project and how it dismisses other forms of knowledge as as valid. So the reality of academia is that theology specifically Islam as undermined, even patronized, often as a point of reason and rationality, and where knowledge
production is situated as a consequence of objective analysis. My question is, can we must? Can we more specifically resituated objectivity from the white man to God? And does the Academy have the capacity to facilitate that conversation? Or do we have to do that within methodspace?
My blunt analysis, no, you cannot change the academy.
You can benefit from it, you can work within it. You can even thrive in a certain way. And there are good people that are thriving. But the Academy's paradigm fundamentally is, as you say,
and yes, the white man bias is there even though that is being challenged by other segments of the academy? Right. So that's changing. But the basic premise of secularism Ledeen, you can't change the academy there. And because of this, there shall always remain
a type of dismissal of somebody who doesn't sort of go subscribe to that premise amongst the academy, as you correctly pointed out, and I felt this as a preaching cleric as a believing Muslim, as somebody who insisted I'm not going to be drinking, you know, at your gatherings. Actually, when I was at Yale, by the way, I enforced the law that the law, I mean, enforce the rule that there shall be no alcohol on any table I'm sitting at, right? That's like, forced to shut, okay. Like, I'm not gonna sit at a table where alcohol was, you know, and they tolerate it, but they talk behind your back, you know, I'm not going to sit at a table where alcohol is served, if you invited me to a
conference so I would say this to them like, okay, if I'm coming, at least where I am you guys do whatever you want over there where I am, I'm not going to be you know, sitting there with that now. How's that going to impact your research? How's that going to impact the talking that takes place, only my shoulder your head you but you're marked by your your modesty and your scholarship is going to be judged by this, it is a fact. And you are correct had your background and skin color have been different automatically. And also at one point I am of course there's only so much I can say if you subscribe to the name, Islam
and also endorsed aspects of their ideology you become a different type of Muslim, you shall be promoted extremely quickly
if you get my drift, right. Whereas if you subscribe to, for lack of a better term, normative Islam, you shall always be hindered. And I will give you an actual example without mentioning names but you can find out very quickly if good,
well known and Macula mentioned names. A certain person claims to be Muslim also claims to be subscribing to some alphabets. Let's just say and if a president of the alphabet says
it, okay. Very public in this regard.
Potentially when I was at Yale, this was happening. That's why I know this very well. He was the first person in human history, human history to attempt to legitimize alternative moralities from the Quran.
If you understand what I'm saying here, right? And his PhD, which is a published is on this, I met this person while he was doing his PhD, I was doing my PhD at Yale. Right? I met this person at conferences, he prayed with us. I didn't let him lead. Don't worry, but I mean, he prayed behind me. Okay, so I can say somebody there to what I won't say anything. Okay. Okay.
When the dissertation came out, I swear to you, I could not see any academic merit in it whatsoever. And I thought, I'm being biased, because the entire dissertation is trying to prove the convoluted story has been misinterpreted. Let's just say this, right? That's chapters two and three. How can you possibly misunderstand the omelet story. And this was a PhD from a reputable University. And it's considered to be like, you know, the best thing since sliced cheese right? And it is bereft of academic merit, even for a Western paradigm. This guy doesn't deserve even an undergraduate paper for this, but because of the topic, and I'm being very blunt, and what I've said so far, it was hot
last night just passed but Masha Allah PhD now this guy's a professor of Islamic Studies, openly Muslim and openly this. And he's considered to be so here's the point, I'm writing about Ibn Taymiyyah and whatnot, share preacher, I'm gonna have impediments, you're more hygiene, but you're gonna have impediments, right? This person, tenured professor.
So there is definitely a bias, there's no denying this. And the academy needs to own up to it. And because I'm not in it, I have a toe in it. Every time something like this happens in all the WhatsApp and in all the groups and I'm upon I always make a point to bring this because I have the luxury to do. So I have the luxury to point out the double standards and hypocrisy of the academy when they do so. Right. That's why third spaces aren't necessary. And that's why the seminary I'm a part of, or, you know, see is over here, I think these serve crucial roles, crucial roles, because we need faith based Muslims who love the tradition, but also understand the tradition is composite
of the divine and human. The tradition is not divine, the tradition is composite of divine and human. So we respect the tradition, but we are not wed to it. And we need to push forward from the tradition, not from without this is my philosophy and idea. We do need third spaces, where it is very clear that we are faith based academics. And this insha Allah is the potential for a revival of so many of the projects we're talking about, you know, so much can spark across the globe. It needs to happen at a very public level, it needs to combine the intelligence of the world, it needs to be a project that people buy into. And if this is done, I'm confident that wherever this is, or
multiple places, it will help spark conversations around the globe. Insha Allah. Our next question was over here, and then Doug over here. Thank you very much, Mr. waffle. I'm a professor in the College of Science and Engineering. I just have a question. Doctor. As an academic, it's very easy for me to think intellectually out of the box in my own field in college and science and engineering. But when it comes to Islam, I'm very binary thinker, halal haram and actually scared to think critically. What do we do? How can we move into that space to think more critically without going against the tradition? Like you mentioned earlier? Thank you for your question has no five
minute response. Honestly, this is a question that me in particular if you know my background and history I've had to struggle with for the last decade and a half
and I don't have an easy answer for this. All I can say in my personal life, I found that
and being again this is we're Muslim audiences or I'm assuming majority are Muslim. So let me just be frank here. There's two things that help
is the shadow and it's the Hara.
Two things help. Firstly, bounce your ideas off of peers and other like minded individuals don't be completely breaking away. Find at least other groups of people and bounce your ideas. Maybe you have gone too far. Right? So when you bounce your ideas off of other forward thinking listeners, but they're believers or whatnot, right and next thing is you're on into