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Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and his take on apostasy laws.

“And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know it.” (Qur’an 2:42)

As mentioned in a previous post here:

I went into some discussion on why I felt that Sunni scholar Sheikh T.J Winters (Abdul Hakim Murad) was perhaps misinformed on the issue of apostasy. I respect Sheikh Hamza Yusuf a great deal. I had a chance to learn from him at Zatyuna Institute (prior to becoming Zaytuna College) back in 2001.  I was at Zaytuna institute the day the infamous 9/11 event took place.  Sheikh Hamza Yusuf is a great orator and spokesperson for Islam.

This entry is going to be along the same line as the one concerning Sheikh T. J Winters (Abdul Hakim Murad) above.  If you are going to read this entry, I would suggest you read the entry regarding the respected teacher T.J Winters to get a sense of continuity, as well as context. We need people who are willing to be readily transparent when dealing with the academia of the west, or we will be in a great deal of trouble. I think when we have a group of people, especially academics, and intellectuals.

Thus, with policymakers, we must be earnest with them.  If we are not earnest we may lose many allies when it comes to being transparent and truthful with academics and educators.

Take for example the following clip:



youtube At 2:48  Sheikh Hamza Yusuf says, ” There are no verses in the Qur’an where any cohesion is mentioned…the Qur’an states clearly in chapter 18 whoever wants to believe let him believe, and whoever wants to disbelieve let him disbelieve”

I guess the question to Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, is then why is it the ‘ijma or ‘consensus‘  of scholars like Imam Shafi’i, Imam Malik, Abu Hanifa, and Imam Ahmad is to execute people who leave Islam?  What was it about their ijtihad that did not allow them to take these verses (mentioned by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf) into consideration? What I am genuinely curious about is that it would seem to me in my limited knowledge that Shafi’i, Malik, Abu Hanifa, and Ahmad all had the same information in front of them. What was it about the Qur’an that was not clear to them?  Surely, Imam Shafi’i, Imam Malik, Abu Hanifa, and Imam Ahmad are scholars of great repute?

When discussing the issue of apostasy Sheikh Hamza Yusuf mentions a scholar and I did not catch his name. At 5:42 minutes I heard mention was “one of the greatest scholars of Islam ‘Ata’  did not believe there should be any capital offense in apostasy ” and that does not translate to much. I am sure the academics would like to know ‘Ata’ Who?  Who was he and when did he live? 7:30 in the clip he says, that: “The Islamic tradition is not amendable to the same degree that other traditions are to reformation; the reason for that is that the Islamic tradition sees itself as a reformation of the Jewish and Christian sectarianism.” Then, what does that statement mean in light of the many myriads Islamic groups and sects there are today?  Many of whom wear the same title and yet spite the other?

9:36 “How can you have a religious tradition that can blow up people on buses and little children and things like that but your not allowed to kill frogs.” “I mean its just so weird this modern madness.” I would go further and ask how can you have a religious tradition that can say your not allowed to kill frogs but you can kill people for leaving the faith?  That is just madness!

Here is a list of some of the oral traditions that are authentically* attributed to the Blessed Prophet Muhammed. * When I say authentically that is to say according to Sunni scholarship on the matter.

The Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’ “  Note that there is no distinction as to how that Muslim came to be a Muslim. (Bukhari 52:260)

“Allah’s Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, was killed (in Qisas,) (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse, and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle and deserted Islam and became an apostate.” (Bukhari (83:37)

“Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'” (Bukhari 84:57)

A man who embraces Islam then reverts to Judaism is to be killed according to “the verdict of Allah and his apostle.” (Bukhari 89:271)

There was a fettered man beside Abu Musa. Mu’adh asked, ‘Who is this (man)?’  Abu Musa said, ‘He was a Jew and became a Muslim and then reverted back to Judaism.’  Then Abu Musa requested Mu’adh to sit down but Mu’adh said, ‘I will not sit down till he has been killed. This is the judgment of Allah and His Apostle (for such cases) and repeated it thrice.’  Then Abu Musa ordered that the man be killed, and he was killed. Abu Musa added, ‘Then we discussed the night prayers'” (Bukhari 84:58)

Allah’s Apostle: ‘During the last days there will appear some young foolish people who will say the best words but their faith will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will have no faith) and will go out from (leave) their religion as an arrow goes out of the game. So, wherever you find them, kill them, for whoever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection.” (Bukhari 84:64-65)

“Was not there a wise man among you who would stand up to him when he saw that I had withheld my hand from accepting his allegiance and kill him?”  (Abu Dawud 4346)

Now I respect Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Sheikh T.J Winters immensely.  They have a huge challenge ahead of them. However, I feel it is an immense difficulty for them to articulate positions on this matter as they defend the Ahl Sunnah position of Islam. The task for them is to navigate difficult questions while affirming the tradition both ‘ijma (consensus) of the Sunni tradition (which is to kill apostates) as well as these various hadith graded as ‘sahih’ (sound) according to the scholars of the Sunni tradition of the hadith (which also mention killing apostates). If they go against the ‘ijma (consensus) of their scholars they could possibly be accused of apostasy themselves!

However, they could navigate around this by challenging ‘ijma (consensus) themselves. They cannot go against the hadith on the matter because they would also be accused of apostasy and attacking the hadith scholarship. Thus, the only way for them to navigate it is to try as many modern-day apologists have done is to say that the hadith ‘need to be contextualized’. There really is no need for this rigorous and intellectually exhausting semantics with academic audiences. There is a very readily available solution to this problem.   The good thing is that Sheikh Hamza Yusuf alluded to it in his remarks.  He quoted the Qur’an!

Yet, the challenge, respectfully, is that Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Sheikh T.J Winters (Abdul Hakim Murad) is that one cannot both have their cake and eat it too. Either the Ahl Sunnah and their ‘ijma (consensus) is correct or it is not correct.

Mind you this is the same body of scholarship that is who are familiar with every verse and hadith that both Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Sheik Abdul Hakim Murad are familiar with, even more intimately so. Or, you simply defend the words of Allah(swt) in the  Qur’an and say that the ‘ijma (consensus) of the Ahl Sunnah was mistaken in the matter.

If I had to take the words of Allah (swt) or those of Bukhari, I will take Allah (swt). If I had to take the words of Allah (swt) or the ijtihad (personal effort in juristic understanding). I will take Allah (swt).

If it had been thy Lord’s will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!: (Qur’an 10:99)

Shall I seek other than God as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed? Those who received the scripture recognize that it has been revealed from your Lord, truthfully. You shall not harbor any doubt. The word of your Lord is complete, in truth and justice. Nothing shall abrogate His words. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.” (Qur’an 6:114-115)


December 8, 2016 · 4:38 am