In the current age of increasing anti-Muslim sentiment, it has become routine to hear ignorant pundits and bigoted political activists make baseless claims regarding the reality of Islam. A conscious effort is underway to paint Islam as inherently violent and its legal system as archaic and prehistoric. Far more alarming for Muslims, the greatest avenue for introduction to the faith, the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم is caricatured as a warlord by using false historical narratives and taking other true reports out of historical context. These claims could not be further from the truth. The immense canon of Islamic History from the pluralistic societies of medieval Cordoba to the small British Muslim community of Abdullah Quilliam in the early 20th century testify to the fact that Islam is a powerful force for peaceful coexistence and social equality.
As Muslims, it is now incumbent upon us to remove the falsities from the truth and show that our faith is peaceful and fair, our legal system just and equitable and that our founder was “a mercy for the worlds”.
Does engagement have its own risks—or is it a valuable tool for social change? Conversely, is an empty seat an effective political strategy?
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf speaks on a panel with Salam Al-Marayati, Qamar-ul Huda and Hala Hijazi.
Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl begins by reminding of the anchor of every day and age, the Qur’an, and that those who make it part of their soul will thrive; those who do not will remain in confusion at a minimum. He reminds that the Quran calls upon us to “Strive in the way of your Lord,” and that struggle and striving require time, energy, investment and effort. He cites verses from the Quran that tell us that God has selected Muslims–not based on racial, ethnic, tribal, or linguistic factors, but based on a relationship. It is a commitment based on the understanding that: you are among those who struggle in the path of God; you are committed to the struggle; if you find God, you will find the true source of happiness, tranquility and meaning; you are among those who understand that existentially, without Allah, nothing makes sense; with Allah your life has a purpose, and it has consequences, which is a foundational principle for morality itself. If you are among those, then you are among those God has chosen. He cites another Quranic verse that tells us that our relationship with God should lead to peace and tranquillity, not rancor, anger, envy or other human emotions that harm the soul and cause hardship.
He points out that one of the critical tasks that we are called to perform as Muslims is to bear witness upon people. Bearing witness was a sacred job and a moral task that predated Islam, Christianity and Judaism. God knows that bearing witness is a difficult task because it can bring profound consequences as people do not like to be confronted with the truth, especially those in power. However, if you want to create a society that is ethically consistent with Islam, you must create a society in which bearing witness does not lead to hardship. When bearing witness and telling the truth create hardship, human nature is to avoid pain, and will naturally tend to justify behavior that avoids pain. This leads to hypocrisy in the heart. It takes real struggle to go against this natural instinct, especially when it means bearing witness on the side of God and the Prophet in truth in opposition to those in power.
He explains that today, Wahhabism is no longer the problem, rather the theology of obedience to the state that is being propagated as an Islamic imperative all over the world. Under this theology, a Muslim learns that Islam is not intended to create autonomous, active, dynamic, thoughtful, and moral human beings, but rather, creates subservient and obedient human beings, whose relationship to politics is simple obedience. He points out that a society built on such despotism and obedience will breed hypocrisy and cowardliness. This type of Islam will ultimately lead to Islam’s death. This type of hypocrisy is what turns Muslim youth away from the faith.
He gives important examples of how this theology of obedience has resulted in devastation all across the Muslim world, and how it has made Muslims, particularly many Muslim “leaders” begin justifying and supporting the obscene acts of those in power, even to the point of suggesting that Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is not holy in Islam. He gives examples of how ultimately, this quietist, pacifist, obedience theology leads to moral relativism, patriarchy and even the justification of slavery. It teaches people that the most important parts of their religion are prayer, fasting and charity, and that all else is unimportant. He draws the analogy to Karl Marx’s assertion that religion is the opiate of the masses, and demonstrates how this version of Islam–an Islam without ethics, without a vision, without a commitment to justice–would be exactly that. Delivered 23 August 2019.
The popular images of Islamic law today are either about the terror of infidel beheadings or about exoticism of polygamy. These images immediately depict this Islamic legal tradition as a constellation of barbaric customs that are incommensurable with modern notions of justice, equality, law and human rights. But what is Islamic law truly about? How was it reconfigured over the course of modern history? And why is it so controversial today? This talk will steer the conservation towards understanding Islamic law in its own terms.
Sharia is a religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Qur’an and the Hadith. In Arabic, the term sharīʿah refers to God’s immutable Divine law and is contrasted with fiqh, which refers to its human scholarly interpretations. The manner of its application in modern times has been a subject of dispute between Muslim traditionalists and reformists.
The traditional theory of Islamic jurisprudence recognizes four sources of sharia: the Quran, Sunnah (authentic Hadith), qiyas (analogical reasoning), and ijma (juridical consensus). Different legal schools—of which the most prominent are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali and Jafari—developed methodologies for deriving sharia rulings from scriptural sources using a process known as ijtihad.
Traditional jurisprudence distinguishes two principal branches of law, ʿibādāt (rituals) and muʿāmalāt (social relations), which together comprise a wide range of topics. Its rulings assign actions to one of five categories: mandatory, recommended, neutral, abhorred, and prohibited. Thus, some areas of sharia overlap with the Western notion of law while others correspond more broadly to living life in accordance with God’s will.
This series of talks were delivered at the Muslim Community Center – East Bay (MCC East Bay) in Pleasanton, California in December 2012.
During the reign of Omar, peace and prosperity reigned supreme through the lands. Some have questioned that prosperity and how it was attained. Is it accurate to say Islam was spread by the sword? Is jizyah a penalty for being non-Muslim? How are non-Muslims supposed to be treated under Islamic law? This session will delve into these issues as well as some other rulings and sayings of Omar that we will analyze.
Muslims through ages are always committing a big mistake connecting the Seerah of the Prophet ﷺ to only the series of battles he fought and ascribing the Islamic History to only the conquests. One of the common features for all lands Islam entered is building local infrastructure and governing system by utilizing the local resources compared to the western colonizers who used to steal the resources of their colonies. Throughout the golden age of the Islamic History, Islam created civilization hubs spreading the knowledge and technology for all humanity such as the bright examples in Baghdad, Damascus, Egypt, Qairawan, Andalusia, Persia, etc. How can we study, understand and teach the Seerah and Islamic History beyond the battles and conquests?
The nation-state and nationalism are both modern phenomena. In his article for Renovatio, Zaid Shakir writes that Islam contains clear arguments against the most important elements of nationalism. This conversation explores the contents of his article, Where Islam and Nationalism Collide, to be published in Vol I, Issue II of Renovatio: the Journal of Zaytuna College: https://renovatio.zaytuna.edu/article/where-islam-and-nationalism-collide
Islamic scholar Hamza Yusuf talks about whether Islam is comparable with the concept of religious liberty on which America was founded. An American-born Muslim convert who founded the first Muslim liberal arts college in the United States, he has reportedly been put on an ISIL hit-list of Muslim leaders in the West. After his remarks, Professor Yusuf engaged in a dialogue with Professor Farid Senzai and members of the audience.
Mr. Senzai is Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at Santa Clara University. This recording was broadcast on May 18, 2016.
Whether we live in a small town or big city, a predominantly Muslim neighborhood or are the only Muslims on the block, it’s important to be involved and engaged in society as a whole. And that’s where our civic obligations come in. As Muslims, our Islamic duties are what push us to be involved. Whether we are temporary guests, visitors, or citizens, Islam mandates that Muslims should be an integral component part of society.
What does it mean to follow the Shariah in the West? Is the Shariah in the West different from the Shariah in the East? Is the Shariah in a Muslim country different than the Shariah in a country where Muslims are the minorities? In this lecture, Dr. Johnathan AC Brown will clarify these points and elaborate on the role of the Shariah in a Democratic government.
The Khilafa of Sayyidina Ali – The Mortal Choice – Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib was the fourth Khalifa of Islam. He had the distinction of being both the son-in-law and the cousin of the Holy Prophet, upon him be peace. He is, with Fatima, the ancestor of the Ahl al-Bayt, the People of the Prophetic House.
He was characterised by martial skill, by inward depth, and by an immense erudition in religious knowledge. Of him, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: ‘Khilafa was not an ornament for him, he was an ornament for khilafa.’
The Khilafa of Sayyidina Uthman The Wisdom and the Agony – Shaykh Abdal hakim Murad
Sayyidina Uthman ibn Affan was the third Khalifa of Islam. He was known as the ‘Man of the Two Lights’, because he was the only man in history known to have married two daughters of a Prophet.
Uthman was famed for his good looks and immense generosity, and also for his spiritual closeness to the Holy Prophet of Islam, who included him among the ten who were assured of Paradise. He commanded the armies of Islam during an age of miraculous conquest and victory in East and West.
But he remained famously humble, and his sermons brought people to tears. He said: ‘I am astounded at four people: he who knows the world to be temporary, and still chases after it; he who is certain of death and yet makes no plans for it; he who believes in hell, and yet commits sins; and he who believes in Allah, and yet seeks the help of others.’
Sayyidina Umar ibn al-Khattab, known as al-Faruq, ‘the Discerner’, was the second of the four Rightly-Guided Caliphs. One of the greatest rulers in world history, he laid down the institutions of a solid Muslim government. Under his farsighted leadership, armies moved in every direction to liberate neighbouring lands.
Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was passionate in his devotion to the Din of Islam and establishing Allah’s laws among His servants.
He was also a man of prayer and fasting, who paid little attention to the temporary pleasures of the world. He said: ‘No part of Allah’s wealth is allowed to Umar, save two garments: one for the winter, and the other for summer, and what I need to take me to Umra and the Hajj. My provisions for my family are those of an ordinary man of Quraysh, neither the wealthiest nor the poorest. After that, I am just a man from among the Muslims.’
A far-sighted and deeply religious man, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq was the first adult free convert to Islam, and became a major narrator of Hadith and a fountainhead of spiritual wisdom.
He also became the first Khalifa of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Facing rebellions by followers of false prophets, he reestablished the unity of Arabia under Islam.
He became a byword for humble rulership. When he assumed the leadership he said: “If I am right, help me. If I am wrong, correct me. I shall strengthen the weak man among you until he enjoys his rights. I shall weaken the strong man among you until I have taken what is due from him. Obey me for as long as I obey Allah and His prophet; but if I disobey them, then disobey me.”
The concept of an ideal, universal “Islamic State” has been in existence for a long time. Religious reformers in countries as diverse as Egypt, India and Indonesia have advocated for the establishment of Islamic states during the twentieth century. The acquisition of territory in Iraq and Syria by ISIL, (also known as ISIS or Daesh), in 2015 has brought the issue increasingly to our collective thoughts and to media headlines. This group’s claims are often presented by diverse media outlets and others, including academics, as an established fact in Islam. Such presentations give a monopolistic legitimacy to groups such as ISIL (or ISIS) and lock out traditional religious views and historical realities from the public square.
Dr. Jonathan Brown and Dr. Mohammad Shafi will present their clear analysis of why there is no claim for a universal Islamic State in the Qur’an or the normative practice and tradition of the Prophet. Historically, the Caliphate after the Prophet fell apart soon after Umar, claims of legitimacy by the Umayyads were constantly challenged and the presumed unity was shattered very early. The lived history of the Muslim peoples over the centuries shows that the idea is not practical or feasible.
America was founded in part on the concept of religious freedom. Many today consider Muslims a grave threat to that founding principle. Is Islam incompatible with the free exercise of religion?
Recently, Shaykh Hamza contributed to the writing of the Marrakesh Declaration (2016) in Morocco affirming the rights of religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries, and met with Pope Francis in Rome to discuss the implications of this declaration.
This talk was part of a 2016 event at The Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education at Santa Clara University, where Professor Farid Senzai moderated the Q&A session.
A key tenet of belief in Islamic civilization was that God’s law, the Shariah, was the most just and perfect system of law for mankind. The primacy of the Shariah in the minds of many Muslims today remains strong, and an enduring tension in Muslim communities is negotiating the legitimacy of legal systems outside of the Shariah. This presentation will explore how classical Muslim scholars understood the relationship of the Shariah to justice, and how they reconciled their belief in the rule of law with the urgings of equity.
Hamza Tzortzis presents the role of Islam in society from a number of different perspectives during Day 1 of his powerful lecture series “Classified” held at Fanar – Qatar Islamic Cultural Center on 7th – 10th of December 2012.
Muslims have always lived as minorities in predominantly non-Muslim lands. And, in the best of times, they have lived well and peacefully with peoples of other faiths. This lecture will examine the European experience of Muslims after the collapse of the Ottoman sovereignty, how they fared, why they failed when they did, and the lessons they can teach us in our current situation.