16 SHAYKH HAMZA YUSUF QUOTES

Trump! Iraq! Car bombs! Syria! ISIS! Palestine! Orlando! Gay Muslims! Jo Cox! Double media standards! Immigration! Brexit! Civilizational jihad!?! Given all this, as well as the recent Islamophobia that surrounds us both online and off, I thought it best for me to go back to spiritual basics. Whenever I feel like this (which is more often than I would care to) I read the Qur’an and I listen to Islamic lectures.

I have just finished listening to two such lectures from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and, as is my habit, I have typed up my favourite quotes from them. Total combined running time for both lectures is about an hour and well worth a listen. Links to the lectures as well as the quotes themselves are presented below. Enjoy!

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf


The fear of Allah is the beginning of wisdom, and wisdom is the ability to act appropriately in any given situation. And this is something that unfortunately is lacking today. When you look at the conditions of the world you see that very often people do the opposite of what the actual situation entails. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

You can have knowledge but knowing how to apply the knowledge is the wisdom. That’s the hikmah. And that’s the difference between those who might know the hukam of Allah as a text, and those who know when the hukam of Allah is applicable. That’s wisdom. And this is where the Prophet (S) was constantly teaching his sahabah. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

One of the tragedies of the time we are living in is historically the hadith were the domain of the ulama. There were small books written for common people but overall the hadith were in a tradition of isnad. You had to study hadith with scholars and they would explain to you…Now you have people opening up books, or worse going on Google…looking at hadith and then they get confused and then they confuse others. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The Qur’an says that there came a light and a book, noor-run-wa-kitaab. You need the light to read the book, you can’t read in darkness. The light is the Prophet (S). He is the light that illuminates the book. Without the Prophet (S) the book can become a source of people going astray. And every group in the history of Islam that went astray, they went astray with Qur’an and verses…“They said this…this means this…this means that…” And they interpreted it, they all used the same text, and they went astray. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (the Qur’anic verse referred to is from 5:15)

“We did not reveal this Qur’an for you to be miserable.” That’s what the Qur’an says. “We did not reveal this Qur’an for you to be miserable.” – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (the Qur’anic verse referred to is from 20:2)

Don’t obey a man if it means disobeying the Creator of men. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

This religion has to have nakl and aql. It has to have the transmission of the hadith, but it also has to have the aql. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Everything that happens to us that is calamitous, and this is hard to swallow, this is a bitter pill to swallow, but everything that happens to us that is calamitous is from disobeying Allah and His messenger. That’s simply reality, and until we come to terms with that our faith is not sound…We were given guidance, we were given a covenant. When the covenant is abandoned, calamities happen. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The early Muslims always looked to blame themselves for their problems, but modern people always point to other things to blame for their problems. This is because the early people were on the madhab. – adapted from a speech by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The Prophet (S), his sunnah is the wisdom of this book (the Qur’an)…The Christians have this thing…What would Jesus do? We should have the same criteria. Do you think the Prophet (S) would tell people to strap bombs on them and go blow up innocent people? Is there anything in his sunnah that indicates that that would be a methodology that he would use? Because he was in Mecca, he could have had his sahabah go assassinate people. They were brave…He didn’t do that. Why? Because that is not his methodology. What he does is out in the open. He never did anything by stealth, other than to escape because Allah commanded him to do. He didn’t do things by stealth. He told people exactly what he was going to do and he did what he was going to do. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The wisdom of the Prophet (S) is something that we have lost in our community, we’ve lost it, and it’s something that we need to regain, and it’s regained with knowledge…it’s regained with humility…If the Prophet was humble then who am I not to be humble. If the best of creation was humble who am I not to be humble. The Prophet was commanded to be humble. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Everything about him was wisdom. Everything he did. The way he ate, the way he sat, the way he walked. He walked briskly, he walked with intention, he didn’t meander. When he spoke he spoke intelligently, he never minced his words, he always spoke beautifully. If he joked he joked with truth. And then he honoured people…And that’s who he was. He was somebody that elevated and honoured people. Male, female, slave…This is the Prophet, always elevating people. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Understanding the context of a word and it’s usage is a very important science in the tradition of Islam called ilm-ulm-wada. In fact Bernard Weiss, the great American orientalist, said it was a unique contribution of the Muslim civilisation to introduce this knowledge, this specific knowledge, into the world. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

All of our scholars, without exception, were great grammarians, without exception, because grammar was the sine qua non of Islamic tradition. All of our great scholars were logicians, they were able to think and identify their terms. They had comportment in the way they spoke with others. And at the root of the Islamic education was persuasion, balagha, and this is why the great Qur’anic miracle is a persuasive miracle. It is the miracle of argument. The Qur’an is an argument. And if you read it as an argument it either convinces you or it doesn’t. But if you never even look at the argument and you reject it, you are not thinking freely, you are simply shackled by your prejudice. If you read the Qur’an it’s constantly telling people ‘Don’t they think?…Don’t you use your intellects?…They’re living a bovine existence, eating, and drinking, and merriment.’ There is a profound seriousness in the Qur’an because life ultimately is serious, despite the important moments of brevity. But in our culture those moments of brevity have become the substance of our culture. Entertainment. Comedians. News becomes comedy. Everything is reduced to a joke. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Our Prophet was not somebody who was sombre. In fact one of his names is ad-dahhak, the smiling one. He smiled a lot. But he is also da-i-mul-ahzan, a deeply contemplative person, someone who was in profound meditation with his Lord. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The liberal arts, which we call ulum-al-aliya, the instrumental arts, or the arts of freedom, they won’t save the world, but they do make the world worth saving. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf


Return To Wisdom

Zaytuna College Commencement 2016

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