What better way to start 2017 than with 20 quotes from my favourite Muslim scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf.
Unfortunately Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is currently having a bit of a difficult time. He has become embroiled in a white-privilege-racist-type argument due to some comments he made recently related to police shootings in America. I am not really going to go into detail on this matter, suffice to say things may have been taken out of context, people may (I repeat, may) be overly sensitive regarding certain matters, and less sensitive regarding others. For more details please see here, here and here. Shaykh Hamza has since sincerely apologised. May Allah accept his apology, may Allah make this situation easy for him, and may Allah remind all of us that none of us is perfect.
Anyway, I thought it best to present another collection of his quotes to remind us all just what I think he really is all about, and that is to get us to think about Islam in ways perhaps we would never have done were it not for him. Controversy aside, please enjoy!
A Yemeni scholar said…if you want to call people in America to Islam then it is based upon a condition, that whoever you talk to, you see them as better than you…Instead of looking at people with contempt, you actually look at them with compassion. Instead of seeing them as your enemies, you see them as your potential friends and brothers. And that is what the Qur’an says…‘Perhaps God will put between those that you now feel animosity or enmity towards, put between you and them love, and Allah is all powerful, and Allah is forgiving and merciful’…They forget that the sahabah were all converts. The sahabah were all converts. They converted to Islam. They weren’t born in Islam, they were born in jahiliya. But the Prophet (S) had the patience, the love, the care, the concern, and the forbearance to put up with all their arrogance, with all their jahiliya, for 23 years until the entire Arabian peninsula was in a state of Islam. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (the Qur’anic verse referred to is 60:7)
They don’t know that there are people out there waiting to hear the message of Islam. And if you don’t have mercy with them, how can you tell them? If you’re not compassionate with them, how do you know them? – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
Everybody wants justice. Good luck on the Day of Judgement. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
For Muslims the key to a truly good life is a contemplative life. There has to be meditation on reality and that meditation on reality by nature is going to engender good deeds. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, from A Conversation With Miroslav Volf And Hamza Yusuf
I would want that the rulers of the Muslim World, especially if you have very large populations of Muslims, that they recognize the authority of Islam in the state, especially for those things that directly affect people. The single most important aspect of the sharia after personal law of marriage and things like that are the commercial laws. If you look at all Islamic books on Islamic law, the vast majority of them relate to commercial law. And those commercial laws, if they were implemented today, we would have far more just societies, because much of it is the prohibition of these commercial transactions that exploit people. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, from an interview in The Cairo Review, Fall 2015
In order to realize a dream you need to wake up and work. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
Love is a seed that’s nurtured and it is nurtured with knowledge of the beloved, the more you know about the beloved the more you love the beloved. – Shayk Hamza Yusuf
Nobody will enter paradise unless you come with a sound heart. And what is a sound heart? It’s not having animosity or hatred towards other people. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, from a lecture entitled Be Grateful For Ramadan
One of the things Fakhr al-Din al-Razi says that one of the ways that Shaytaan destroys people is he inspires their poets to say foul things. And then the young people grow up memorizing a lot of foul things. And he said this in the 13th century. So their young people grow up memorizing a lot of foul things and so their minds are polluted from a very early age right. They lose their purity. – Shayk Hamza Yusuf
Some rabbis passed by Jesus and they cursed him, and he replied ‘Peace be upon you.’ And somebody said to him ‘They curse you and you greet them?’ And Jesus replied ‘Vessels can only pour forth what they contain.’ – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
Somebody said to me in Morocco “How strange it is to see an American become a Muslim.” And I said “That’s not strange at all. What’s strange is the whole world doesn’t become Muslim. That’s what strange to me. Not that an American can become Muslim, there’s nothing strange about that all. What’s strange is the world has yet to recognise who this man was, sal-lal-la-hu-alay-he-wa-salam, and what he offers humanity. That is truly ghareeb.” – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
The good opinion of Allah and the good opinion of the servants of Allah…this is something we have lost in our community…we often assume the worst about people…if someone is late, the assumption is they couldn’t care less about the appointment…the Prophet (S) said that one of the hallmarks of believers is that they look for excuses for people, and the munafiq is always looking to find faults in people…so it is something central to belief that people who believe have a good opinion of other people. – adapted from a speech by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
The Qur’an is constantly repeating the reminder in different ways…it is diversifying the ways in which Allah is speaking to His creation. If you actually look at the Qur’an, the message is not complicated, the message is the same message, it keeps coming: taqwa, ‘ubudu-rabbak, aqeemus-salaah. It is basic things that Allah is reminding you and then giving you stories of how to get into that state of remembrance with Allah sub-haana-wata-aala. That is what the Qur’an is doing, it is reminding human beings to come back to their Lord. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, from a lecture called Miracles Of The Quran (taqwa is developing God consciousness, ‘ubudu-rabbak is worshipping your Lord, and aqeemus-salaah is establishing your regular prayers)
The real catalyst was a car accident when I was 17, which was a head-on collision. That forced me to confront mortality in a way that I hadn’t done before that. Everybody will confront mortality at a certain point in their life but sometimes it takes much longer than others. It happened to me very early on. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, from an interview in The Cairo Review, Fall 2015
The soul can only be brought back to life by recognising why it was created, for what it was created, and then setting out and striving to achieve that goal. – Sheikh Hamza Yusuf
We are people who are supposed to be moral people. We are not people who are supposed to simply talk Islam. Instead we should live Islam, talk Islam, eat Islam, drink Islam, sleep Islam, and die Islam. And that’s all there is. And there is nothing else in this world, for this world is a place of submission to Allah. – Sheikh Hamza Yusuf
We as Muslims have failed to convey anything of his character. Do you think non-Muslims can see the miracle of Qur’an? You say Qur’an is a miracle. How do you know? Most of you don’t know. The majority of you don’t know. Even the Arabs today don’t know…You can write something and make it sound like the Qur’an and recite it and he’ll think it’s from the Qur’an. Because they don’t know. So the Arabs themselves don’t know. So how do we know? ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ This is what Jesus said…’By their fruits ye shall know them.’ And this is when Islam becomes real, when people are willing to actually live Islam, when people are willing to live the character of the Messenger of Allah (S), when they are willing to take on the akhlaaq that the Prophet (S) said…’I was only sent to perfect noble character.’…That is why we have to re-instill the centrality of the Messenger of Allah in our lives, because this is what is missing in the ummah. We shout and we scream and yet he never shouted and screamed. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
We don’t doubt Islam, but we should doubt our understanding of Islam. Because to have certainty about your understanding is to arrogate to yourself some divine knowledge you don’t have. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
With all respect to our Christian brethren, we believe this is our faith, that Islam is the fulfilment of Christian tradition. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
You cannot be blinded by hatred. We are not people of hatred. We are people that look with the eye of compassion, because when we see people who are lost we want to see them guided. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf