Yasir Qadhi – Strengths of the Academy

Yasir Qadhi
AI: Summary © The speakers discuss the lack of educational focus on modernity and the importance of learning new languages and reading and reinterpreting to become a better thinker. They emphasize the importance of cross-cycle andiloverages in understanding the world and the importance of learning a language to benefit everyone. The speakers also touch on the idea of human nature and how it affects society, highlighting the need for more skepticism and reinterpretation to empower individuals.
AI: Transcript ©
00:00:00 --> 00:00:00


00:00:02 --> 00:00:12

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

00:00:13 --> 00:00:34

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.

00:00:36 --> 00:01:13

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 adversity in theology, and by

00:01:13 --> 00:01:55

Mameluke theologian, Hemant Ibn Taymiyyah. And I didn't recognize Mameluke theologian meant Ibn Taymiyyah. Because even though I had studied him and Tamia left and right, and I've read 10 books of his, we never cared to memorize that he's under the Mamelukes. And that that might have ended the cruise the invasion of the Mongol Empire might have had an impact. This is completely D linked. We're simply studying Halloween for Halloween. That movie 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

00:01:55 --> 00:02:10

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 seen as, you know, philosophy and whatnot. So my point being that

00:02:11 --> 00:02:34

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.

00:02:35 --> 00:03:21

Our history becomes mythology. You will not you will literally just like these stereotypical beatific trope 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 madrasa 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

00:03:21 --> 00:04:05

emphasizes political science and history, sometimes too much. For example, once again, a midterm, he has my area of expertise. So I mean, I 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 of the reasons why Ibn Taymiyyah was such a quote unquote hardliner again, that's how, you know, they view and 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 bastad empire, he's absorbing the

00:04:05 --> 00:04:12

trauma taking place, externally, right, and then internalizing it theologically

00:04:13 --> 00:04:54

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 would might have impacted it because I think that is a part of understanding, you know, the

00:04:54 --> 00:04:59

evolution of ideas intellectual history, so this is definitely strength number one of the academy the second strength of the

00:05:00 --> 00:05:44

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 Taymiyah 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 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

00:05:44 --> 00:06:07

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.

00:06:08 --> 00:06:29

And the academy forces you to humble yourself, that is not just your oath of office, 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,

00:06:31 --> 00:07:11

obviously, the name of Van es, 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 brille, I think or something or whatever, $700 or whatever. It's just 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

00:07:11 --> 00:07:52

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, Jehovah had been so far on pages and pages, and an entire encyclopedia, not just of theologians, but a 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

00:07:52 --> 00:08:35

back to the original, whether it's even Taymiyah, whether it's yoga, whether it's even hijab, whether it's you know, a sohara, what are they? But you also need to see how later people interpreted Ibn Taymiyyah interpreted. So what are 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

00:08:35 --> 00:09:20

strands of stuff, I don't want to go there today. But it becomes easy to reinterpret that which might not be interpretable, because you have cut off tradition, you've cut off to Roth, 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

00:09:20 --> 00:09:49

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 because it 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

00:09:50 --> 00:09:59

authors that are your generation, whereas in the madrasa doesn't matter what people have done your generation, much less even previous generation

00:10:00 --> 00:10:08

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,

00:10:09 --> 00:10:13

which is also a potential negative but is also a strength is source criticism,

00:10:14 --> 00:10:20

historical analysis. Now this is a very, very contentious point.

00:10:21 --> 00:10:22

The madrasa

00:10:23 --> 00:10:24

teaches you

00:10:25 --> 00:10:28

to accept everything you have been taught.

00:10:29 --> 00:10:34

Now, as a Muslim, I say I have no problems accepting Allah and His Messenger SallAllahu sallam.

00:10:35 --> 00:10:47

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.

00:10:48 --> 00:10:54

Forget somebody, you know, bigger than them now, in the academy. They welcome

00:10:55 --> 00:11:09

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

00:11:10 --> 00:11:47

I'll give you a simple example again for my ma dissertation. So again, I spent four years studying this guy, right gentleman 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 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 Yeah, yeah, you hand that domestically? Yeah. John of Damascus was a

00:11:47 --> 00:12:24

very famous church father is a new Platanus 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 Monaca in my you know, was it Aviva the examination at the end, right. One of the one after she and one of the examiner said, you wrote here that he got his ideas from John of Damascus,

00:12:25 --> 00:13:09

Min Saba, aka Illa Harada, who preceded you in saying this. I said she had the bath Jana, I discovered it myself. It goes Allah cool, and how the moose kill 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

00:13:10 --> 00:13:53

man and to Iceland? 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 even Taymiyah 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 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,

00:13:54 --> 00:14:22

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.

00:14:23 --> 00:14:59

It's not a contemporaneous? Where's his source? Where'd 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 going to mention the most, you know, not positive facts.

00:15:00 --> 00:15:33

and not necessarily say an untruth but not necessarily give you the full picture as well and that's human nature there'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 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

00:15:40 --> 00:15:40


00:15:42 --> 00:15:43


00:15:44 --> 00:15:49

me Mr. Heaton doll Seanie.

00:15:50 --> 00:15:51

Doesn't show

00:15:53 --> 00:15:55

me what to fit

00:15:58 --> 00:15:59

the what

00:16:00 --> 00:16:01


00:16:03 --> 00:16:04

to me.

00:16:05 --> 00:16:06


00:16:08 --> 00:16:09

down to

00:16:11 --> 00:16:13

me down

Share Page

Related Episodes