“O, mankind Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another. Truly, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, All-Aware.” (Qur’an 49:13)
Recently the internet, Twitter-sphere, blogosphere, Facebook, and other social media are abuzz with comments that Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (Mark Hanson) made during his recent speech at the RIS (Reviving Islamic Spirit) conference in Canada.
This is a brief part of his interaction with Mehdi Hassan This said in the context of calling Donald Trump “a servant of God.” certainly brought the ire of the Muslim community. People were in complete disbelief, many moved to tears and deeply, deeply hurt. The following link has the full interview between Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Mehdi Hassan:
The following article (though not coming after Shaykh Hamza’s speech) though strikingly beautiful and painful, is forceful and anyone who is concerned about the struggle for social justice should read this beautiful piece:
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf came out the next day to apologize but I have to admit even I have never seen Shaykh Hamza all over the place as he was. There were statements from him that I could not really make any sense of. To his credit, the poor soul was awake for the better part of 20 hours the night before on a flight to the U.S
However, I will have to call out anyone, and I do mean ANYONE who takes issue with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and his statements when we have a fatwa in a classical Sufi text calling for the death of anyone who calls the Blessed (saw) Black.
Muslims are also hypocritical for not addressing statements made by Imam Shafi’i and Ibn Taymiyyah that Arabs are superior to Non-Arabs.
Now in the video above (the first one) Shaykh Hamza Yusuf did talk about what it is like to be an Indian/Pakistani in the Gulf states and addressed Arab privilege over Non-Arabs.
In fact, many of you Muslims reading this (in particular those of you nodding your head up and down) about traditional Islam do not realize the clever trap that is being set up for you.
You see in the so-called “traditional Islam” that people are talking about today there is a lot of talk about ‘adab’ and having knowledge of things in their proper places. What this conversation quickly leads into is people knowing ‘their place‘ in the greater scheme of things.
Then this becomes a discussion about Allah (swt) giving preference to certain days of the week, to certain times of the year, to even certain numbers, and then to certain people.
And ultimately the discussion descends into Allah (swt) making a particular tribe, and a particular race of people superior over other tribes and other races.
This will take us (the Muslim ummah) ultimately to a dark and dangerous place.
If you think this, not a type of thinking held by those calling you to ‘traditional Islam’ and ‘Sufism’ than you need to read Aftab Malik’s book: ‘The Broken Chain’.
I would encourage you to read my post on Aftab Malik’s book and how the thoughts contained in that book could lead to the promotion of racial hierarchy in Islam by one of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s close confidants here:
So when you see a lot of the people from the community that advocates “traditional Islam” getting cozy with the powers that be understand that in reality what they are telling the powers that be is the following:
“You see because you destroyed the tradition you have unleashed havoc and chaos that you yourselves cannot control.” The chaos and havoc here could be Isis, it could be the Muslim brotherhood, it could be Salafism, it could take on any form that threatens the geopolitical interest of the West. So they make their case to geopolitical think tanks and power structures, “If you recall in colonial times you would often consult with those in authority in the Muslim community, thus, if we can be enthroned to that position we can help to guide, and to steer the Muslim community.“
Now maybe many Muslims really have no issue with this. Maybe many Muslims are interested in an apolitical Islam. Yet, where this has the potential to become very sinister is that recognizing the wisdom of putting things ‘in their proper places’ aka “Adab” and seeing that Allah (swt) gives preference to some things over others, is used as a pretext to justify that Arabs are superior to other races.
Where have we heard that before?
So here is the video of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf giving his apology:
They say a picture is worth 1000 words and these are pictures and sentiments I have taken from Twitter, and Facebook and can only imagine in other social media.
Now as far as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s apology, I think there were a lot of things about it that were quite distasteful. To use the stage in which the commemoration of the death of Muhammed Ali (raheemullah) to speak about his gaffe was not appropriate.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is usually a very articulate and composed person and speaking about being called ‘A Muslim Mafia Don’ and the comments about the chicken and two eggs, and a cow, etc… It was just bizarre.
He stumbled when talking about his childhood and poverty.
His comment about the Muslim brotherhood calling it the ‘communist party‘ while trying to apologize seemed out of place.
This is a blessing in disguise. It is crucial that we have this conversation. We cannot say that Islam is a way of life that teaches universal brotherhood and sisterhood and then have opinions within Ahl Sunnah Wal Jammah stating that one race or lineage is superior to other races and linegages.
African Americans who are associated with organizations teaching “traditional Islam” will not be able to tongue in cheek defend those who advocate for social justice while at the same time trying to justify these traditionalist teachings. I would expect in the future for you to see more Black Muslim leaders pressured to attack Black Lives Matter or find fault with the movement.
May Allah (swt) guide us back to the Qur’an as the PRIMARY source of our knowledge and may IT be used to refute any and all teachings that purport to be authoritatively Islamic and yet clash with IT. May Allah (swt) bless Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and all that he has done for the ummah. To err is to be human and to forgive is divine. 2017 may prove to be an interesting year indeed.