I recently came across two separate audio clips from Shakyh Hamza Yusuf that explore the concept of reality. In the first clip he talks about how Islam is a civilisation of knowledge, a civilisation trying to understand reality. He mentions how the Prophet, peace be upon him, would isolate himself to a cave just outside his beloved city of Mecca, away from the hustle and bustle of market life. Here he would spend hours, days even, alone with his thoughts, alone to contemplate the feelings in his heart, alone to try and find purpose to his existence, trying his utmost to come to terms with life, the universe, and everything.
As I have blogged previously, in our very busy 24-hour lives, when was the last time we truly secluded ourselves in such a manner? When was the last time we went for a day without our iPhones and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram? Just a thought…
On to the second clip which talks about how our modern obsession with mobile phones and photography is removing us further away from the reality that the Prophet was trying to understand, and ultimately what we should do about this (answer – put your phone down and pick up a book!).
Both clips are well worth a listen, each one being only about 6 minutes long.
I have blogged before about our obsession with mobiles, with quotes from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (here, here, and here). We are so obsessed with these small screens that our modern ears are now sharply sensitive to the beeps of mobiles, but almost deaf to the call of salah.
Anways, as always, enjoy!
Islam is a civilisation of knowledge. Franz Rosenthal, the great Jewish Orientalist and world-class historian, wrote a book called Knowledge Triumphant, in which he argued that he could not find any civilization in human history like the Islamic civilization because, he said, this is a civilization that put the pursuit, the acquisition, the development, and the transmission of knowledge at the forefront of its existence. Its very reason for existence was knowledge itself. And the Prophet was a seeker of knowledge. He was a seeker of knowledge. Why was he up in the cave? What was he trying to do in the cave? He was trying to know reality. He wanted to know reality. And the Prophet, what is the first commandment that he is given once that reality addresses him? “Read in the name of your Lord”…So at the very beginning of Islamic revelation is “Read in the name of your Lord…” – adapted from a speech by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
I’m so sick of photographs. Stop taking pictures. Just stop taking pictures and start experiencing life…You can see the madness of an image based culture…We (Muslims) are a community of lowering our gaze. The Prophet never stared at anybody. If a picture is not staring, then what is it? Because you have permanently captured that person…You have to ask where it’s all going…Take the picture in your heart…It’s so troubling to me, all this stuff. I really believe that if the sahabah (companions of the Prophet) were alive and they saw how we behaved now, they would just be amazed at how divorced people were from reality…Plato writes in the Republic about why there shouldn’t be image makers, because image makers are divorcing people from reality. We are already divorced from reality one time. This (world) is not reality and once you go into the world of images, now you are two times removed from reality…I just think all this Facebook stuff, just stop. Just live your life, go for walks amongst trees…Read a book, that’s made out of paper, trees, it smells, it’s amazing, good company, it never talks back. You can never offend a book. The book might offend you, but you can’t offend a book. – adapted from a speech by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf