Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Sheikh Hamza Yusuf

Transcript for Lambs to the Slaughter with Muhammad Shareef

Transcript Details

Event Name: Lambs to the Slaughter with Muhammad Shareef
Transcript Author: Munawar Ali
Description: This title causes alot of confusion. There are 2 Lambs to the Slaughter Speeches. One with Sh Hamza in Toronto. This second one with Muhammad Shareef. They are both amazing speeches, but I prefer this one with Muhammad Al-Shareef.
Date Transcribed: 1/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Original URL:

Transcript Text

Transcription Start

Transcription Start


<Greetings in Arabic>

<Basmallah in Arabic>

<Salaat un Nabi in Arabic>I feel inordinately honored, to introduce to you tonight, my teacher, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf.

I think, for most of you, SHEIKH HAMZA YUSUF needs really no introduction, but for a few of us, who need such an intro, I’ll go ahead and say a few things about him.

SHEIKH HAMZA YUSUF was born in Wala-Wala in Washington, and he was raised here in California, in the Bay Area.

He was raised in the Greek Catholic tradition…and at the age, in his late teens, he reverted to Islam.

In his pursuit of his passion for, classical Islamic thought, SHEIKH HAMZA YUSUF traveled widely in the heartland of Islam.

And he studied in Mauritania and many other parts of the Muslim world in the classical Islamic tradition.

SHEIKH HAMZA YUSUF is presently the Imam of Masjid ul Noor in Santa Clara, there he conducts, classes in Arabic and Islam.

And he’s fast becoming one of the most sought after speakers. not only in the United States, but all over the world.

We’re very happy to have him here and we’re pleased to pay attention to what he has to say to us tonight, regarding the subject of education and our children.  Thank you very much, Asalamualaikum.


Asalamualaikum Warahmatullah.

<Basmallah in Arabic>

<Salaat un Nabi in Arabic>

I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and that Muhammad, Salallawalasalam is his last and final messenger.

What I’d initially like to start out is just to say what I would like to do, and also to indicate that really, my talk is a, a prelude to Muhammad Shareef’s talk, which will focus essentially on the West African intellectual tradition.

Which is an extremely important tradition, in terms of education and understanding the relevancy of that tradition in terms of modern.  In the light of modern education and what it has done to our children.

What I would like to say for people, and I know the vast majority of people here, follow the Islamic tradition, I would like to say, I think that the topic that I’m talking about …ah..isconcerns individuals irrespective of their tradition, and it certainly concerns anyone who has children, and who has a concern about children.  Which I hope that is the vast majority of people in this country and around the world.

Ah, the topic itself is titled “Lambs to the Slaughter”, and the reason that I chose that topic, is because, in many ways, I feel that children truly are, in a sense, lambs headed for a wretched massacre of the light that resides in them.

Ah…it is, a…divine light, and I believe whole heartedly that the child is a, uh, receptacle of this divine light, the purity and the innocence that resides in children is something be really, awe inspiring if one reflects on the nature, or our children and yet we become acutely aware of transformations that occur.

In other words, what is it that takes a child from such an early age, of..bright, full of life in love, and ah,… can end up in such a tragic condition. 

And what we’re noticing increasingly, in in modern civilization, is the age of the, what I would term the race of innocence, is increasingly being lowered.

In other words, year by year, we’re seeing a type of degradation that’s occurring, concerning our children, and and they’re losing their innocence much earlier, then at previous historical periods.

And that is certainly true in the Islamic world, ah, that children traditionally were ah…, protected and guarded.  And seen literally as, in what is termed in the Quran, an Amana, or a trust, that is given to the uh… Parents, and to the society as a whole. 

Ah…, my talk, uh…, the reason that I put this up, was to create a mood. Because I feel in many ways, unlike an intellect filled with knowledge and light, this is basically, ah…, what the modern creation, ah…, this monster, that ah…television and modern education have so successfully created, is basically a…, something that is filled with pop tunes, with pop culture, with, ah…, slogans, and ah, … they’re increasingly perfecting their techniques at how to anchor those slogans in the subconscious of human beings, and this is what this ad is.  This actually comes out of a magazine, that is not for popular consumption, uh…you cannot actually buy it from a local store, ah, you could probably get it at a good library, but it’s actually a magazine that is done for people working directly in the advertising community.  And if you’ll note that basically the pitch is, if you use country music, which is the fastest growing genre of music in the US, ah, for your jingles, then this a way of anchoring brand names, anchoring commercial slogans into the subconscious of the individuals that happen to be exposed to those jingles.

And It's been noted that between the ages of 3 and 18, children will witness over 500K commercials.  500k commercials…this is basically, really the, the values that are being transmitted to the youth, are being transmitted through the commercials.  And the commercials actually have been analyzed wonderfully by brilliant uhmm…ah, analysts, that are very clever in their dissection of the meanings and encodings and the signifying aspects of all of this madness.  And most of them are actually quite frightened by it, and that’s why they got into the field that they did. And, The interesting thing about one of the books that I read on advertising, is that it actually said, uhmm…that in the end, the consumer…becomes the consumed. 

And this is exactly what this ad indicates.  Because, what is being sold here, is human beings.  What is being sold here, is the minds of individuals, All over the country.  This  is the product, this is the commodity that this magazine is selling.  It is selling a way to invade…the human brain, and anchor a product in the brain so that that individual, when they’re walking in a store, somehow will purchase one type of product as opposed to another, in the cornucopia of products that we have in the US. 

And many other, the fascinating reading, if someone wants to read this, I would recommend it, because really, you will you will be taken into the minds of these people, which in many ways, is actually, for me, the reading, I interpret it to be quite sinister.  Because these people are very clearly attempting to socially engineer the marketability of their products. 

This…, schema here is basically, the theme of my talk , uhmm… and it’s taken from a Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad which is a tradition…sacred  tradition from the Prophet Muhammad, which is not the Quran, but his oral tradition, and it says that every child is born on fitra, fitra in the Arabic language is a difficult term to translate, but one of the meanings is the inherent or aboriginal nature of the human being, that there is an inherent nature to the human being upon which they are born, and which is subsequently transformed by the society that they live in .

In other words, a child,  and I want to uh, make it very clear here, that when it says the parents will make it a Jew, a Christian or Magian…this needs to be understood within the context of the Islamic uh,…vision.  And I would say that the Jew, the Christian or the Magian are literally…arch-types.  In other words, they are forms, ah,upon which human beings are susceptible, given the world view of the Islamic teaching.

And this is no way, meant to be offensive to people that happen to be Christian, or Jewish or even Magian. Those three traditions are actually honored in the Muslim tradition, and their churches and synagogues traditionally were protected in the Muslim lands, based on injunctions from the Quran itself and the Prophet Muhammad. 

But at the same time, there’s, ah… in modern society, there’s a tendency to relativize religious tradition.  And to create dialogue in which each religious tradition is equalized to the same level.  And in a sense Islam refuses to do this, despite the fact that many Muslims are willing to engage in this practice.  Islam itself refuses to do that, because Islam declares a supremacy as a teaching. 

Now, I would like to point out to the Muslims, that I personally believe that these archetypes, Muslims can easily, people who consider themselves Muslims, can easily fall into these archetypal forms.  In other words, there are many Muslims who are in the archetypal form of whats being terms a Jew here.  And I want, I’ll go into that later.

The same can be said of the Christian and the Magian.  And so basically what I would like to do, is talk about this Hadith and I will get into a clarification of what these uh, arrows mean. 

In terms of, of just as a start. I want to take a very brief, and this has to be recognized for what it is, it is a brief overview, of really in a sense, how we got to where we are in the united states, And in many ways, all over the world, because westernization, which, really, is a term, that is no longer appropriate, in the sense that, the this this phenomenon, which we have traditionally called westernization, it has now become a global phenomenon that does not respect traditional geographical, ah, borders and boundaries and traditional  points of reference such as the east and the west.  Rudyard Kipling’s, famous, “The east is east, the west is west, and never the twain shall meet.”


Well they have met, and it’s been disastrous, and …in many ways it’s been disastrous because the, ah, west has won this stage of the battle. 

And when I speak about the west, I speak about really, the worst elements of the western tradition, because there are certainly within the western tradition itself,  many uh, exalted elements.  And certainly many aspects of high culture.  But really what I’m talking about is ah, is the, imperialistic tendencies, ahh, the western hegemony, over knowledge, over thought and discourse, and ultimately over the commodification of the world itself.  Ah, the, literally the desacrilization of the, of the world in which we live. And the exploitable nature, of western pursuits all over the world in terms of what, are, called, traditionally, resources, both, and I really don’t like this type of terminology, but both minerals and quote unquote, “human resources”.

And it’s an interesting term, because again it articulates a commodification of human beings.  Human beings have been reduced to resources, that are to be exploited like other, ah, resources.

If you look initially at the beginning of western civilization, in a sense it has to begin , in  what is termed the Hellenistic culture, Greece.

And the Greeks have a unique ah, characteristic and that is that at a certain point, most  people pinpoint around the 6th century BC or before chr…Christian Era, which is the point at which the traditional grand narrative which was ah, a in a sense a pseudo religious explanation of the world based on these gods that lived on Mount Olympus, based on the oral traditions of the gods, began to be challenged by a group of people that began what the Greeks would eventually term …philosophy, they began to philosophize and speculate rationally about the nature of the world, where it came from, what it was made up of.

And it’s very fascinating, because these people, had many different theories.  Some said, everything ultimately atoms, these nonads, these irreducible components of the universe.  Others said it was made out of water, others said, …other things.  And what happened because there were so many versions, ultimately a group arose out of the Greeks called the skeptics.  And the skeptics were people who said that nothing can be known, because obviously human knowledge comes up with all these fanciful ideas and ultimately there’s no supremacy of one over the other.  Which is a really important historical point, because in a sense that is where we have arrived at again. 

We are back to the skeptical perspective which is that there is no certainty.  Now, from this movement arose a group of people called the sophists.  And the sophists were an interesting uh, lot, who basically were extremely clever at the rhetorical manipulation of words, and and embellished words ornamentally, in a way that was designed, to influence people through speaking.  And, they were really not concerned with truth.  They were simply concerned with the most persuasive way of bringing people over to their idea.  And it really wasn’t important whether they investigated their idea, whether it was valid or not.  The point, I have an opinion, I want you to have that opinion, so I’m going to convince you of that opinion.  And they began to study, uhm, how to do that effectively. 

And what happens from that, is a very interesting character pops up, whose name is Socrates.  And Socrates basically was declared by the oracle of uhm, Delphi, that he was the most learned man in Greece, Well the Greeks wanted to know what he knew.  So they went to him and asked him, ‘what is it that you know?’ And he said, ‘that the only thing I know, is that I don’t know anything.’

And uh… this was very curious to these people because here’s the Oracle saying he’s the most learned man in Greece, yet his knowledge is that he is ignorant.

Now, this is what the Arabs traditionally called simple ignorance. 

Jahloon baseer?

And they said it was remediable, that you could cure it.  Meaning, if someone knew that they were ignorant, then they could be easily cured of that sickness, by teaching them knowledge.

But the form of ignorance that they considered incurable, was compounded ignorance, and that is the type of ignorance that is where somebody thinks they know something, and in fact they don’t.  Well Socrates, the clever man that he was, went about basically, seeking out people who claimed to knew things.  And his heuristic discourse would basically reduce their arguments to ah…, to untenable arguments. Because he would basically continue to question them, and find, before long they try to sneak out the room, like Visepherous.

Or uh, others that uhm, its very fascinating what he did, but really the character is so important, as a character, because he is like the child in Han’s Christian Anderson’s wonderful fairytale – ‘The Emperor without any clothes’. 

What he did basically was just say , “The Emperor doesn’t have any clothes”.  And because he did that, that is actually a very dangerous thing to do.  They condemned him to death, because emperor’s don’t like to be told that they’re naked, when they’re doing incredible things to convince people that they’re in fact ornamented in the most extraordinary clothes.  Now, Socrates has this  student named Plato.  And from Plato emerges a theory of education, and this is really one of the first formulations, certainly in the west, of a theory of education. 

And his theory of education is basically based on this idea that the human beings have 3 qualities, or three abilities.  One is the ability to reason.  That we can know things and we can think the good.  And this is an ambiguous term, but this is basically …the idea that the human reason is this ability to strike from the good. 

And then the next one is the ability of appetition or the appetite, that we are also human and have animal qualities.  So, on one hand we have the angelic aspect and on the other hand we have this… animal aspect. 

And then there’s this third point which is the will and the idea of the will, which is the ability for reason to solicit the use of the will in preventing the appetites from taking a person from destruction.  Now this is not all so dissimilar from the akhal, or the intellect.  Where it would differ is that according to the Muslim belief the intellect itself is incapable of knowing the truth without divine revelation.  Now Plato had an idea of direct intuition which is his highest form of knowledge.  And whether by that he meant revelation, is is uhm, is just fodder for scholars.

But, in the Islamic tradition the idea that the intellect needed divine revelation.  Now the reason for this is important.  And that is based on this Hadith…that there is an inherent nature to  the human being.  But that nature must be nurtured.  It must be nurtured, and it must nurtured by divine guidance.  And if it is not nurtured by divine guidance, it deviates.

Now this would  be what the Christians called original sin.  The move… the progressive move to the deviation the hearts swerved.  And in the Islamic tradition, there Is not that idea but there is a similar idea uh, that it is not based on this sin we’re born into , but rather that the human being has this dual nature and there is a proclivity towards doing the animal aspects uh,… to excess,… and that must be reared in by the higher self. 

Which is called the Nafs al.. Luwama, and the Nafs al-Mutmaina.  The Nafs al-Luwama is the blaming or reproachful self. That when it sees the Nafs al Luwama, which is the command self, moving towards wrong, it will blame it. 

Now there are two ways this is done.  There is preventative or if the action is committed, then it will renew its state of purity through an act which is termed ‘Taubah’ in the Islamic tradition.   Which is similar to the Christian idea of repentance.  That one literally turns away from this this blemish, and renews ones ah, spiritual wholeness.  And it’s done in most religious traditions through ritualized forms. In Islam its its quite simple, asking, saying “Astigfirullah” <ARABIC> and asking for the covering or the veiling of God over ones wrong action.  It also entails, if there was harm done, that the harm be, be dealt with. 

Now, … ah From from, the ah…, Plato’s tradition, comes a student of his , who’s name is Aristotle.  And Aristotle basically moves away from the metaphysical speculations of Plato, into a more ah, empiricist traditional or pragmatic tradition, his his concern was more with experiential knowledge rather then ah…intuitive knowledge.  And this begins a split in western tradition that will have profound implications and is directly related to modern society, and modern education. And this is the split between the rational and the empiricist tradition.

What happens is the advent of Christianity, in Western civilization, brings a new tradition.  And that is that western civilization is infused with the Semitic ideas of the the Hebrews.  The Jewish tradition.  But it also is synthesized with the Hellenistic ideas.  So you have on the one hand, the ah, …the the Hellenistic tradition, the pagan tradition. Which is formidable, and it can’t simply be thrust aside.  And you have on the other hand a a movement that actually began as a reformist messianic movement of the Jewish people, and it suddenly universalized through a brilliant polemicist, and orator named Paul, or Saul of Tarsis. 

And Saul of Tarsis was from uh, an interesting town, Tarsis, which is in Asia Minor and this was the center of a Roman tradition which was known as Mithraism, and it was a basically a Babylonian mistri cult, that had been Romanized, and they believed, they believed in a God that was born on Dec 25th, he was the sole invictis or the unconquerable Sun God, who was also seen to be the Son of God.  And actually died for the sins of human beings through self-immolation.  In the form of a Bull.  And his Blood and his Flesh were, were taken in, imbibed and eaten, as a way of redemption.

And this is all historically documented, the whole tradition of Mithraism.  In fact, St. Augustine, interestingly enough, when ah, dealt with the Mithraist’s, he mentions at one point that the uh,… the the the Mithraic priests had mentioned to him once, ‘You know our fellow in the friggian <transcriber note: unknown word ‘friggian’> cap, uh… is a Christian also”.  And and a and Augustine said, the early Christians said, Mithraism was in fact, the devil’s ploy at creating a kind of shadow to Christianity that would uh, be a way of trying to make Christians, disbelieve their tradition. 

In other words, when they were confronted with the similarities between Christianity and Mithraism, this is how they dealt with it, as ‘This is from the Devil trying to shake our faith’, which is a really interesting  psychological mechanism that believers uh, tend to resort to uh, when they are confronted with something quite frightening.

And uhmm…in the Quran, there’s many examples of this resorting to a kind of irrational argument when Ibrahim the great iconoclast, Abraham, ah challenges his people ‘what are these idols, what are these images that you are assiduously worshipping?’ and and and uh, you know, ultimately when he says, ‘they can’t talk, they can’t do anything’, they they, it says literally, they returned to themselves <Quranic Verse> they returned to themselves and they realized he’s got a point.  And at that point its very frightening, because belief has suddenly been undermined.  And what their response of these people was, is really the final refuge of the rogue in the Quran, which is, ‘this is what we found our fathers doing.‘

Now, human beings are really fascinating in that aspect.  It’s been said that rats, uhmm, will if if you have four doors and you put cheese on the fourth door, and then you open these doors, and let the rats go down .  They will go down one, they’ll smell the cheese, go down one, if its say the third door, they’ll keep going, they’ll go down it a few times, and they’ll go down maybe, number 2 door.  When they finally get to the fourth door, then they eat the cheese, again cheese is put in the fourth door, and this is reinforced several times. 

And so finally, when they, this funny scientist takes the cheese out and doesn’t put it down the fourth door, puts it down the second door. The rat will go down the 4th door several times, but at a certain point he will stop.  He’ll realize that this is futile and he’ll go down that second or first door and find the cheese.  Now, the interesting thing about human beings, unlike the rats, is that they will tend to keep going down the fourth door.  And never really go to the other door.  And the reason for that is this extraordinary capacity that we uniquely hold and that is to believe.

The rat does not believe that there is cheese at the end of the...  He’s just interested in the cheese, because he is a creature that has a very limited uhh…brain, which is not like the human brain, a triune brain, but a singular brain  that doesn’t have a little uh..reptilian brain, or core brain.

Now the Christians, interestingly enough, begin to Hellenize their tradition and the Gospels originally articulated according to most of the Scholars, in the Aramaic tradition, are written in a Cornier Greek, which was the vernacular of the people at that time.  And transmitted through the Greek language.  In fact, the the Gospel is a Greek word, “Yaamadell” which is the good news and which uh, the gospel, which is the good news.  Which is termed Ingeel in the Arabic language. 

And what happens within the Christian tradition the the there is an interesting focus on Platonic thought , unlike the Aristotelian thought, and particularly neo-Platonic thought and that of a famous philosopher known as Polotinus.

And, you have a brilliant ahh…, articulator in the church known as Augustine. Who is actually from North-Africa. And Augustine, also begins to formulate ideas about education, and his basic idea is that education is to create conversion and constant repentance in the individual.  Now, Augustine like many of the priestic  fathers of the Christian church, uh, he really disdained the body.  And the man was really in a very difficult position.  He visited, by his own confession, the prostitutes of his city, as a young man.  And he used to say, “Oh God, give me faith, but not yet”.

In other words, he wasn’t ready to give up, uhm, the the quote unquote, ‘the temporal pleasures of this world’.  But when he finally did in his conversion in the garden. Uh, he renounced completely the body.  And he began to write things about the body.  Uhmm…as has been written by Jerome and other church fathers.  Really interesting aesthetics go off into the desert of Egypt and whither their bodies away.  Some of them still describing their lusts, for women.  Which is really unfortunate, because, as the Quran wonderfully says, <Quranic Verse in Arabic> Uh, monastacy is something that they invented <Quranic Verse in Arabic> and then they really were not even very monastic.  <chuckles>

In other words, they did this thing, and then they didn’t really fulfill what they were attempting to because of its very unnatural aspects…which is to deny the body itself.  Because we are dual natured.  We have this high angelic self, but we also have the body that cannot be ignored.  And the Islamic tradition is a tradition that literally synthesizes the two, and recognizes that each has its qualities and characteristics and has its aspects that are to be enjoyed.  And what the Islamic tradition does, is it simply puts uh … boundaries on each of the two.

In fact the idea of monasticism is something the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, actually rejected.  And said that there is no monasticism in my tradition. 

He said, My tradition is the way of family and marriage, and whoever turns away from my tradition is not from me.  And he said beware of excess in your religion.  So he neither liked excess in the spiritual pursuits, nor did he like excess In the worldly pursuits, but saw that the human being should be this balanced, uh, man and woman, walking between these two aspects, taking from both, but within the generous boundaries of the Quran itself. 

And so, Augustine then basically sets out an ideal, an educational ideal that becomes in many ways, the ideal of the Chris…of the European tradition, and that is the ideal of the liberal arts. 

And the liberal arts were not really new they were kind of a reformulation of also the platonic, uh,… tradition and the Aristotelian tradition, and the liberal arts were that that oo, that at the elementary level there should be certain tools mastered in order to free one, from the bad habits of thought.  And these were called the liberal arts.  And liberal comes from the idea of freeing or freedom.

And Aristotle actually points out that the liberal arts are in contradistinction to the illiberal arts.  And the idea is that the liberal arts are for the free man, and the illiberal arts are for the slave. 

In other words, the slave is to learn things, in order to provide a purpose and a function to his, or her master.  And not as an end onto itself,  Like the free man who learns, simply, for the sake of learning, and to free his mind.  So, the interesting thing about this is that, servile classes in any culture will ultimately be subjected to illiberal arts, and in many ways, in modern society, the educational system is a system which is teaching the servile classes, functional works, that they can perform, for an elite group of people.  You see, this is really what modern education is about.  Its not about freeing peoples minds. 

And if you think it’s about freeing peoples mind.  You’ve really been enslaved.  You’re that character that I put up there, the first <laughing> the first picture…really…if ..if you think, that the goal of education, is to free your mind, then they’ve really done a number on you.  And to break that is is really difficult. 

Now, The liberal arts themselves are basically that you learn grammar, rhetoric, and logic, Or dialectic, and and the platonic view.  These in a sense were to enable you to speak to read, and to articulate, and to understand clearly.  So they were the language skills that one needed to understand what he read and to ah, write, what he understood or, his own production.  And to be able to speak clearly. 

Now, Augustine says about his his own self.  Which in a sense is a tribute to the education that he had. 

He said, and he was a teacher of rhetoric, he said he never saw anything that I couldn’t read and understand.  Nor that I couldn’t ..uh, write.  Nor that I heard and couldn’t understand.  Nor that I understood and couldn’t articulate it. 

In other words he was able to speak and to read and to write.  Ahh, at a very high level.  And the proof is obviously in his own, in his own works. 

Now, that’s called the Trivium, and then you have this Quadriviam which is learning the quantifiable sciences of of mathematics, uhmm, which uh, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.  And the interesting thing ‘Musticate’, in the, in the Greek tradition was actually the ancient word for education.  Ah, which meant music, and really this has to do not with what we know today as music, but more rhythmic ah, oral chanting.  And much of the oral tradition was was transmitted like that.  And I want to talk on that in a few minutes. 

Now, What happens basically in Western civilization is that the the Catholic church, literally put all their eggs in the Aristotelian basket.  But what happens is that Aristotle’s world view becomes uh, it begins to be assaulted and attacked.  And the idea of transinstantiation which is the idea of the change of the bread and the wine into the blood and the body of Christ, which was a ah medieval concept which was connected to the metaphysics of Aristotle. 

Ah, its challenged, and and then you have the ascendancy of uhmm, the the learning that takes place in the scholastic tradition, after many years of what are termed the dark ages, where really all you learned were as a priest or a monk, you did not learn as a common person.  Common people did not read or write it was strictly oral tradition in Europe during the dark ages. 

But the scholastic tradition opens them up to Philosophy and philosophy is a dangerous door to open, as the Muslims themselves discover.  And, before long you have, heretics.  And these heretics begin to proliferate all over.  And the Catholic church begins to attempt to control this.  And before long, you have this move into what’s called the Renaissance. 

And this is very simplistic history but, just, the renaissance is a move from the super lunary world, which is the world above the heavens, to the sub-lunary world, which is the world below the heavens and the idea in the medieval persons mind uh, the world was a very terrible place.  The body was bad, sex was bad, enjoyment was bad, all of these  things were bad.  Really the goal of life was to prepare for this angelic realm, which is never really described in the Christian tradition, interestingly enough.  Christians really do not understand much about paradise, if you actually ask them for a description of paradise.  In the Islamic tradition it is rich in its descriptions.  And we certainly share the idea of a beatific vision or vision of God.  But other then that, its its very,  you’ll get anywhere from …you know people will think it’s a Golf Course up in the sky, to it’s a place where we all meet and have turkey dinners or something like that. 

I mean, it’s a broad range of this is what the Quran calls “Imani”, or wishful thinking.  Uhmm, so so the renaissance is a move.  Now there is a monk from Germany who goes to Rome, and sees what’s happening.  And Nietze says literally uh, you know that he just can’t take it, and he rushes back and the reformation begins, which is Luther who decides that the Catholic church is despicable. that they’ve gone just to far, and we have to make a break. 

Now, Luther introduces A very interesting concept, which is state schooling.  That people should be schooled by the state, and educated, and his intention for that was an indoctrination into the Protestant teaching.  And this is important that it  comes from Germany,  Because this will again return several times in the history of schooling. 

And then you have the council of Trent.  The counter reformation, the Jesuits emerge to kind of deal with this, and a lot of bloodshed, and then you get just religious wars, that are terrible, and lots of people die, and people get a little tired and burnt out of the idea of religion, and you move into the enlightenment period.  And It’s interesting that its called the enlightenment and not like suddenly they woke up one morning and said, it’s the enlightenment, we’re all enlightened now,  This is something you know, was called later by people, who saw it as a freeing of the human mind, from the chains of the, or the yoke of this traditionalism of the Catholic Church.

  And interestingly enough, one of the key elements of the whole thing is Calvin’s uhmm, fatwa, the Muslims would call it a fatwa, but a religious judgment that allows for usury.  And prior to that the Catholic church condemned usury as a crime against nature. 

 And its interesting, that uhh…Dante and the Divine comedy, places the usurers with the Homosexuals in the same area in the, in the ring of hell, because he saw both of them as crimes against nature.  One if God provided women, why should you go to men, and the other, is that God has made money so bounteous, why should you exploit people with it.  And and this is similar to the Islamic understanding about why usury is prohibited because time, and the Catholics understood this, time is not a  commodity that can be bought or sold.  But the enlightenment brings in the idea that time is money.  And this is a wretched equation, that Muslims should never be heard uttering.  Time is not money.  In fact the tradition that we have is ‘time is God’. 

So, time is reduced to a commodity, and this begins the the commodification of the world.  And you have a common’s movement, in in in , which was the, literally the encapsulating of commons, where  peasants were no longer allowed to enjoy the common land. 

So, landed gentry began to spread, uh begins to dissolve in Germany, and England and all these other places.  There’s really this kind of free for all because the the the Lutherans could not formulate uh canon law in the same way the Christians had, and you have Henry the 8th, doing basically whatever he wants .  And taking all the monasteries in England, They were Catholic Monestaries, and he begins to loan money like interest, and you begin to see this really transformation in ideals. 

Now, with the enlightenment period, you have these really important philosophers that begin to bring in these ideas on education.  Certainly, I think probably, One of the most important is Locke, who begins uh, radical empiricism, in which nothing can be known other then through sensory  perception that metaphysics is hogwash.  That the idea of another world is all pure speculation, that we shouldn’t even bother ourselves with it.

He’s very clever, uh, very clever.

And interestingly enough a lot of his observations are in agreement with the traditional theologians of Islam, about the whole idea of cause and effect…that that’s a whole other thing. 

So uh, from from this you have educationlized ideas being expounded, that really, religion is a thing for the common people.  Its really not a thing for the elite.  And uhmm, this this idea begins to gain increasing momentum in in western societies, and really by the 19th century you have a radical departure from the idea of religious education in you begin really intensely the secularization of education, uhmm, John Stewart mills, whose utilitarianism uh, has a serious educational, philosophical implication whereby people are educated for the good of society.  There’s no idea of the other world, there’s no idea , so this is what’s happening in the west.  There’s a deep, uh, rending of their tradition, from their uh, their uh, emerging world view or perception. 

Now what happens basically, and this is what in the abolutionof man, CS Lewis says, ‘once you reject tradition, a part of tradition.  You have itsofacto rejected the entire tradition.  Because upon which authority do you pick and choose.’  You see once you reject Christianity’s one part, and this is in the Quran, <Quranic recitation>, “Do you believe in a portion of the book, and don’t believe in in other parts of the book?“  How can you do that?  Because the logical uh, this is a just a basic logical reasoning.  Once a portion of a thing Is undermined, the whole thing is undermined.

And this is what happens in Christianity and in modern society.  Is that the education is is the religious idea of education, is completely undermined. 

Now the people that were unwilling to give up, were the Catholics.  And that’s why, just a little bit of how education came to be what it is in the United States. 

In the 1830’s the Catholics, uh,….because there were a lot of Catholics coming over to the US, they began to build, quite brilliant schools and they’ve always been great educators, mainly focusing on these liberal arts and teaching people how to think and reason and producing several, very brilliant individuals. 

The Protestants and the Unitarians, in the Eastern Seaboard, began to be really worried about the effects these Catholic schools were having.  And they were not run by the state, there was no subsidization.  They were literally communities that wanted their children trained in the Catechism and these reading, writing, arithmetic, what were called the three R’s.  And these types of schools produced people like ah, Henry David Thoreau, who is famous for his “Walden’s Pond” and Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and uh, very brilliant writers and thinkers as well. 

So, what happens is, the Massatessets enacts an act, for public, mandatory public school.  Now the interesting thing about this, this is happening in 1850, is that 80% of the population rebelled against this idea.  And the final, I think Barnes Noble or there’s a place on Cape Cod, it was the last village in the 1880’s that literally at gunpoint, their children were taken to the public school by the militia. 

So really, the Americans, because they were individualistic, did not want the state interfering in how they were to raise their children. Because they thought…as in roads into elimination of some basic freedoms, like how you raise your children.  And and that should be a given, that a human being can raise their children how they see fit.  And what happens is, during the 1840’s, also Communism, and the spread of specter of communism, Karl Marx, there is a specter haunting Europe, which is communism, and there capitalist interests in this country were also worried about that, and they saw public school as a way to raise good Republicans. And so they also wanted state indoctrination.  Now the interesting thing, they go to Germany for a model, because Germany was really already manifesting Fasicistic tendencies at that time.  The Prussian schools were based on rigid authoritarianism, and punitive measures, that were really in retrospect, barbaric to the children.  And , uhmm, this indoctrination, the Nazi’s in in way are a direct result of child rearing techniques that were being used in the 1880’s, in Germany . 

Ahh…you know, Adolf Hitler and all these people, imagine how they were raised.  We know that Saddam Hussein uh, who’s uncle Hassan al-Qattab, Hassan the liar, apparently used to beat him every day with a metal pipe. 

Now, that in no way, absolves him of his crimes against humanity, but it certainly is an interesting thing to note, in terms of, the type of child rearing produces, the type of individual he is, if we can call him an individual, because individuality implies consciousness. 

Now, the uh, … the the idea of public education then, spreads thought the US.  Really public education is for the masses, it is not for the elite.  Because the elite continue to be educated in elite schools.

The interesting thing, Elite, the word itself, comes out of a word, that we get, also, literacy derives from it. 

And so the idea is, really, in  the end of the day.  Literate people are still the Elite.  So schooling, public schooling was not designed to create truly literate people.  It is an illiberal education designed to create functionally literate people, because service to society.  This is particularly important with the onset of Industrialization.  Because once industrialization begins, you need people that are slaborers, that can learn, not as an apprentice who learns over several years a trade.  But learn how to work machines, and learn how to function in the factory. 

And, so, this begins the dissent really, serious descent really, a serious descent of modern education, into the arena of creating these functionally literate people in the State of NY, Garbage Collectors need 12 years of education, in order to get the job, which enables them to pick up and take garbage from homes.

Now this is in no way belittling garbage collectors, if there are any garbage collectors here, because Islam actually honors labor. 

And The Prophet Muhammad said (PBUH), the best food that a man can eat, is from the labor of his own hands.  And the Prophet David used to eat from the labor of his own hands.  So labor is honored in Islam, what is called “Halal Work”, or work that is in the realms of permissibility, Now, to look at this this thing here.  You basically have in the Islamic tradition, a child is born in the fitra state.  This is what these arrows indicate there is a natural growth which is healthy, which will grow into a child, aware of its origin, which is back to the divine creator, and its purpose in life, which is an ethical, both ethical , ethical moral dimensions as well as spiritual dimensions.  The moral ethical dimensions are known as Islam, and the spiritual dimensions are known as iman and ihsan.

Now, what happens here basically, is in the ideal situation, you have the family that is nurturing the child in its own fitra state.  And the society as well.  And this is the ideal situation, and this will create a healthy individual who is according to the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, is somebody who is safe to the society, in terms of his hand, and his tongue.  In other words, a Muslim is one who is neither a threat with his hand or his tongue.  That is the Muslim.

Now the Mumin, the believer, is the one who people are safe from him, you see.  So basically the idea is to create a ethical, moral spiritual being, that is multi dimensional and really has a direction that is positive and healthy.

Now the next state is, which is what I think people in this room might find themselves in, to a certain extent.  Is when, their child is in a fitra state, their trying to nurture that fitra state, but the society is against that state.

So, the Society is literally counterproductive to the work you’re trying to do.  And this creates confusion, in a child’s mind, because on one hand in the house…and this is one of the greatest tragedy’s of modern education, not just for Muslims, but for Christian parents, for uhm, Jewish parents, for anybody of any tradition, in which they would like to see their child, basically in a you know, a believing individual, that this is, is very difficult situation, because,  uhh, the child is in a type of schizophrenic environment, in which the house has one way of doing something, and outside the house, has another.

Then the next stage, is where the parents, might be in a society that is in this healthy state, but the parents are against this this state.  And this is another form of confusion, which is more severe then the first the second form there.

Now the final one, is really now, where we are today, in the United States and most of the world.  And that is where the child comes into a world in which not only the parents are detrimental to its wholesome growth, but the society itself .  So school becomes as John Taylor Gatto said, a place in which really bad habits are learned.

And, its interesting that the ancient Greeks considered ethics really good habits morals and ethics were good habits.

So this is basically where many people find themselves in.  Now…,  the results of this …I think, …is is, I think, is great deal this.  And that is, which is that the fastest growing segment of the criminal population, is are children, juveniles. Growing at an incredible rate.  We’re taking about very serious crimes.  Not like the 1940’s where we were talking about stealing some gum from the store.  Now, we’re talking about armed robbery, murder, many children at early ages are exposed to, especially in the inner  cities, where its very..uh,, horrific.

And the worst part about it is, is, again, this display of the society, we have a society where by the ruling elite is involved, quite literally involved, in the importation of drugs, into our communities.  And this is not conspirital theory, this is 60 minutes.  This is stuff you can watch on television.  That we have people at the highest levels in in Governmental institutions, have been involved in bringing in during the Vietnam, heroin was the drug of choice because, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia were fertile areas for Heroine. 

During the 1980’s when the wars were basically in central America, and south America, Cocaine becomes the drug of choice because that’s were a lot of the covert operations were taking place.  And these covert operations were funded by serious drug money that is derived out of the local communities. 

Now what I find it very interesting that what our culture has done is, culture is done, is basically, Karl Marx declared religion to be the opiate of the masses, so the culture got rid of  this opiate, and replaced it with real opium. 

You see. Which is…which is, really, very interesting.

Because religion has limited commercial…ha-ha…only the church can make money from religion, right? But anybody can make money out of drugs.  If they’re foul and vile enough. 

Now,  just to get into… just to get into a little bit of the Pharonic educational system, which is the idea, of what’s called higher education.  Right, And you find that people, might many people enter into the first, second third, fourth, fifth grade.  It begins to diminish as the grades go up, I mean, this is all over, in all cultures.  Many people in ah, in Muslim countries will never get past 3rd or 4th grade, which is probably a good thing for them.  They don’t really realize it, but I think, actually, its probably a blessing in disguise.  Because the higher up you go, the more indoctrinated you get.  You see, And then you get into the arcane secrets of the temple.  When you get to the top.  

Things like there is no God, and uh…this is what you’ll learn in in the university, higher education, that that uhhm religion are basically methodological traditions, allegories, to be studied and looked at, as interesting milestones in the history of human civilization. 

And, now up at the top, I think it’s a whole separate little pyramid unto themselves.  Which is the ruling priesthood, who are called PhD’s, and Masters Degrees people.  And I’m not talking about people with master’s degree from The University of California of like San Jose state or or you know, Irvine or whatever.  I’m talking about Harvard, uhmm, Stanford, where where the ruling elite and their think tanks are supplied by disembodied brains from these institutions.  That will do things like, create the best way to kill Arabs, and leave the oilfields intact.  You see, these types of people that have studied sometimes 20 years, 25 years, in order to develop Bombs, that will kill human beings, but leave the buildings and structures intact so that their their the the Satanic forces of which they are minions to, can move in and do their further exploitation.

So, we have this really interesting situation and really it should be remembered that people like Henry Kissinger, who is a mass murderer, and quite literally, a massed murderer, is given the Nobel Peace Prize, you see,  and has honorary PhD’s from several universities.  So the more evil you are the more honored you are in this tradition.

And really, the more innocent you are, the more impossible it is for you to continue on. 

And I would use Bilal Hide, my friend who is at Berkeley, is a good example of that.  He’s somebody who after several years trying to get his PhD, and realizing that he was losing his soul, chose to keep his soul, and give up the PhD, and that is the unfortunate experience of several people.  And I have personally uhm,, many people that are in PhD programs, that have come to me for counseling because they are so distraught about their human condition.  And I’m not joking.  That’s a very real statement. 

So, this is really what this society produces at its highest levels.  People that are, are literally in a tragic uhm.  Now, what I would like to is quickly, because I realize that I’ve been going on a long time.  And, This should actually be a two part lecture , I might end up doing that, Because there is a lot of areas that I didn’t cover, that I wanted to cover.  But I’ve been going on for quite some time. 

So, what I would like to do  is just mention a few things of which I think are absolutely disastrous, in terms of the children, and what’s happening to our children. 

The first thing, Is the whole grading system, that, you’re in first, second, third, fourth, fifth grade.  The idea that you put children into a class with their peers. Of which they do not experience the richness and the diversity of age.  And this is something I can only attest to.  Because I was in a traditional Islamic School, where the oldest student was well into his 60’s, and the youngest student was 5 years old. 

And that was in one school, and the 60, the one who was in his 60’s, was memorizing the Quran at the time, and had memorized half the Quran after the age of 60, with my teacher, who not only taught him, but also taught the 5 year olds, the 6 year olds that were memorizing the Quran.  And he lived in in the student dormitory, which was basically a, a,  hut made out of burlap sacks, sacks, uhmm… he lived with a few students who were In their teens.

Now this, historically in America, the schools that produced the richest and most intelligent people that this society has produced,  came out of schools, often time,  that had, several different ages, they were one room classrooms where they had, anywhere from 6 to 15 years of age.  And they were learning individually, and this really is an organic ah, way of teaching children, and allows for not only the richness of experience.  But it also breaks down part of the bullying effect that takes place.  Where one grade bullies the grade lower then them. 

It’s like the, in the Patani system, where each tribe complains about the tribe upstream that dumps all their gar…rubbish into the stream, right, so as the stream flows down, the tribe gets the the the waste of the tribe upstream.   And this is what happens in this system. 

That that I think is really sad. And this is a completely arbitrary, it is not from any traditional system of education.  Neither in the Islamic world, nor the European world. This is something that is part of the modern system.

The Next thing that I think is absolutely disgusting, is the neurotic way in which people are qualified through numbers.  You are an A student, which means that you are anywhere from 90 to a 100.  And you are a B student which is 80-100, and this is again  arbitrary, because some schools its 84 to 94 is a B student.

So – in one school you may be a B student, in another school you are a C student.  So much for objective quantification of where you’re at. 

Now what this does, first of all it attaches valence, products, you see the child is reduced to a commodity, of which they are literally given a numerical value.  In the same way that we give numerical value to products in stores.  And so a child who might be working to its full capacity and potential and yet is determined a C, or an average student, one of the things this does not allow for, what the Muslims believe is part of education, which is literally a divine opening, that happens during education.  Because ultimately, Muslims believe, that the true teacher, is God himself, that that is where we learn from, that that is our source of knowledge.  <QURAN> that God taught man.  And so this is really does not allow them.  So you find that children are pigeon holed, and they’ll really see themselves as average students. 

Now its really interesting, as Neil Postman points out, if you go to a Doctor, he will also give you grade.  Like, He’ll say for instance, ‘well, you’re doing ok’. Which that basically, he gave you a C…right?

And then he, said, ‘You’re actually doing pretty well’.  Now he’s given you a B.  Or he’ll say, ‘You are really doing fantastic, in fact, you’re 40 years old, but you’ve got the heart of a 20 year old.’  So he’s given you an A plus.

Now, if he gives you a B or a C, you’re not going to give him his money. You’re going to say, ‘how do I get better’, …right?  ‘How do I improve?’

Well they never tell you that, when they give you these letter grades…right.  Work, try harder, right.  Not working up to his potential.  Things like that.  So the child is literally reduced, I mean, its really horrific what happens to the children in grading.  And grades are literally a 17th century product of Cambridge, in England.

Prior to that, the greatest intellects of both the western and Islamic tradition, and Chinese tradition were not graded.  Shakespeare did not get grades in school…right.

And like, Einstein, right…someone wrote an article that said, had Shakespeare gone into English departments in this country, he probably would have flunked out, Right. 

In the same way that Einstein flunked out some basic math courses.  So because genius is not desired in this culture, believe you me, they don’t want intelligent people.  They want functionally literate people. they don’t want, if you think to much, you’re  literally, the educational system is designed to put that out.  And This is the saddest thing of all, because a child, literally from its early ages is this bursting, with this…divine impulse, to know one thing, …’why?’

That’s what the child wants to know, that’s what they want to know…“WHY”.  And That’s why, if you have children, you know this is true, they will continuasly ask why, not “How”.  Which is what they teach you in this culture, “HOW”.

But they want to know ‘why’.

“Why is it like that”.  That’s what my son, “Why, But Why?” .  Now where does that come from?  Who gave him that question.  Why doesn’t he ask, “How doesn’t that work”...Right?

He wants to know ‘Why?’

“Why aren’t you coming home tonight.

“Why can’t I have that toy.” …Right.

But the point is that, why, is literally, that is the great question, that ultimately, if it is nourished and nurtured, the great resounding answer that comes back is, ‘Allah’…  You see.

That is the great resounding answer that comes back.  ‘Why’. That is the ‘Why’ to every question.

Which does not mean we simplistically tell the child, you know, ‘Why is the sky blue’, ‘Because God made it so’.  Which is a perfectly valid answer.

And the child actually will accept that answer, interestingly enough.  And Children are, designed to believe.  They believe.

They’re incredibly gullible.  They’re believers.  By their nature.  You tell them anything, they’ll believe you.  Just try it on a 4 year old, they’ll believe you.  And and, what what’s what’s done to them in our school system, is they lose the desire for knowledge.  They go in bursting with this desire to know, and after 12 years of that  nonsense, they don’t want to see another book.  And if they do, they want to see another book for only one reason, ECONOMIC GAIN.

Lively hood.

They go to school to earn a livelihood.  To be…to become servants, in a culture of slaves and serfs.  So – the the idea of grading, which should really be completely thrown out, and uh, and people say, ‘how do you stimulate the children.’

Well, I lived in a, in a place, in west Africa, and Muhammad Shareef is going to talk about this.  I lived in a place, where children were literally competing with each other in the most beautiful ways, to outdo the next one.  And children, don’t need grades to know where they’re at.  You see.  You don’t need to tell a child that you’re doing well, or you’re not doing well…right? 

A child knows where they’re at.  They do. They know if they’re pathetic, they know if they’re lazy. They know if their working hard, they know if they don’t understand something, they know if they do understand something. 

Now – the next thing, which is the Bill Gates nightmare, and that is this whole , the the, uh, the technolization of our school systems, in other words, a computer in every classroom. Which really, probably that is going to be the last straw.  I mean that’s the the straw that will break the uneducationable Childs back.  And what’s interesting to note, is that what computers are, they’re really, they’re, machines that are brilliantly designed to inculcate the idea of totalitarism.

You see, because if you work on any word processing program, you learn quite quickly the limitations of the program.

In other words, you have to submit to the constraints of the program itself, and the logic of the program.

There’s no creative room for you, its very limited.  And the other thing, computer games, coupled with these Nintendo type games, that they are literally designed to, and people think its good for their reactions.  Actually children, the worst thing they need to do, is become these kind of neurotic, uhm, hyperactive, reactive children. In fact what they need to be taught is deliberation.  That’s actually one of the lessons that children need to learn, how to sit down, and reason something out quietly.  They don’t need this quick you know, and most of its all about killing.

If you look at these toys, its all killing people, that’s what their doing, and the one that kills the most, wins the game. 

I mean who designed these things?

You know, really sick sick people with PhD’s and stuff like this.  From the same people that gave you the Vietnam war.  It’s the same type of of intellect, so really this is what’s happened, you know, and computers, and the other thing about it is, Is that, one of the things that we failed to recognize, is that children, are literally, they already have an agenda, and it’s a divine agenda.

If you look at this, the Brain is seen as, its its called a triune brain.  And this is really interesting, because the ancients worked this out as well.

Augustine saw that human being was divided into thought, feelings and will. And Aristotle saw it as knowledge, feeling, and will, also.  And this this, our brains are literally ah, they have 3 aspects, the action or reptilian system, that is the system that is developed by Nintendo Games.

The reptilian brain, and interestingly enough, its shared by lizards and rats, and snakes and rodents.  So when children start becoming, quote unquote ‘pests’, in society, we should really wonder, if we’ve over developed their reptilian brains, to the neglect of their higher brains.  Right?

Now, the feeling brain, which is the mid brain, is the brain that deals with emotion.  And this is the brain, that is literally nurtured by the alma-mater, the mother.  Right, this is a gift that a mother gives her child in the first seven years.  And if you look here, the R-System is developing between the ages of 1 to 7, the limbic system , through the ages 1-7, and that point, literally it stops. 

So basically, our children, during the first seven years, these are the years that literally, these two brains, are really, all the neurological connections are being created, and the brain is a remarkable thing, in that…Massive damage can occur at this point, through accidents and trauma, and probably through the use of Computers and television, because these are new technologies, and very little is known about them, but we can see a very serious decline in society through statistics and other means.

Since the introduction of Television into the culture, and certainly since the introduction of computers now, and these games.  And its only getting worse.

And so, now this is the tradition, from the Islamic tradition, that says <QURAN> which is, play with your children for seven years.  Now all cognitive theory has basically confirmed the wisdom of that approach.

Children are literally emerged in the subconscious realm during the first 7 years.  They are not in the they’re not in the same world we’re in.  They’re in a beautiful world.  It’s a beautiful world, and that world needs to be nurtured through play.  Play is the work, like Pieage the Swiss psychology said, That play is the work of the infant.  That is their work.  They are meant to be doing all that wonderful work. 

Now, putting a child in front of a TV, destroys that activity.  It puts them into a passive receptive mode.  Which is exactly what this culture wants to be in.

Because they want to fill you head with all those name brands.  And if you’re in passive – receptive mode, they can be anchored very well.  This is why the Ford Foundation in 1957 wrote a policy paper, which was a demand that television be introduced into education in a very big way.  And they attacked any criticism of this idea, despite the fact that television was incredibly novel technology at that time. 

So, what I want to do is quickly, read a few things from this book, which I really recommend everybody read, it’s called ‘Evolutions end’ by Joseph Chilton Pierce, it has something’s that you can take or leave.  But his argument is really extraordinary in it.  He says, “All the infant child, and the adult as well, want to do is what nature intended.” Now they call God – Nature, which is just semantics here.  “Learn, build those structures of knowledge.  And all that is needed for this is an appropriate environment.  Being surrounded by a mature, intelligent, intellect, open to minds, possibilities and tempered by hearts wisdom, recognizing that to the human all may be possible, but always asking, is it appropriate. “


And this, there’s an Islamic tradition in Bayhaqi, that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that,   (PBUH), that Adam asked God, to give him ‘Isma’, which is infallibility.  And God told, him , that he only gave that to his angels.  In other words, his offspring would have it.

So then, God, promised him that he would give his offspring the ability to do all things, with the exception of putting off death.

And the so the human, potential, is really unlimited.  But the question, is it appropriate.  But, “Is it appropriate”, can only be answered by a human being that has been nurtured and educated in a way in which the moral, ethical, and spiritual being of that person has been enhanced, and not stunted.


“He has had success, the one who has purified his soul, and he is destroyed, the one who has polluted his soul.”

Now,.. I think, people probably need a break at this time. I really, … I just didn’t get to where I wanted to get , uhmm, But I know most of you, so we can talk about it.  Other times.

Uhmm, yeah, I think, we need to take a break.  We’re going to take a break, Why don’t we make it, we’ll start at Quarter after 8, so please be back in the auditorium quarter after 8, for, Muhammad Sharif’s talk.  

The final thing I will say, is simply, to sum all of this up.  I think that it is absolutely imperative for us as individuals to recognize that the state has failed, in providing a narrative, for our children to be taught within the context of.

And because they don’t have a narrative, of which we do, and our narrative, I’m talking about the Muslim narrative, not the only vibrant, it is unchallenged, it is unchallenged, despite the fact that most other narratives have fallen by the wayside, Islam is as vibrant now, in terms of its its universal message, as it was when it was first articulated by our blessed Prophet.  And what I will say, is that interestingly enough arrived yesterday in the mail, which was a letter from the superintendent of Santa Clara school district.

And I was wondering if he was sending me a message, that, not to talk bad about him or something.  What I will say, he says here that the “world our students will grow up in will be entirely different from the world we knew.  Change occurs at such a rapid rate, that we can no longer avoid the impacts it is having on our schools.The amount of info available doubles every 2 years .  How are we going to teach our children to cope with all this information, and acquire the skills required to process it.”

What a ridiculous statement.  I mean, ‘teach to process?’  That’s what they are, data processors..Isn’t that what computers were invented to do, to process data?

Is that really what we want human beings to be doing, processing data? To become consumers of knowledge, as if it was a commodity, and then to go out and market yourself, which is what one of the things they teach you in school , how to market yourself. 

And so, the one thing I wanted to end with was, I really believe that in a sense, we are like a the western civilization built an extraordinary jet plane, and literally got everyone on it. And Unfortunately, they got a lot of people from the Muslim countries as well.  And it took off and it’s flying at 35000 feet, and suddenly its lost power, and its literally, its its just descending at an incredibly rapid rate. And the frightening thing about it is the stewardesses are still asking, “Coffee, Tea, or a beverage”. You know.

I mean, people are just going on as if we’re not in a disastrous condition.  And we are, we are in a frightening condition, and I really think that the Muslims, we have an extraordinary competition to play in the revival, of really what education is meant to be, which is to illuminate and to liberate. 

And the gift of Islam to education what has been termed the democratization of knowledge.  That it offered knowledge not to the ruling elite, but knowledge is the property of everyone, in particular the poor.  And the vast majority of scholars of Islam were from, the working class.  And often times, freed-slaves.  <Quran> Thank you very much.

Muhammad Sharif>

Alhamdullilah, we’re going to have a small break, but I would like to say from the onset. I made a mistake, we will hold back all questions until after both lectures have completed.  But we will ask Sidi Hamza to come back after the break, and finish up, what he thinks he has to finish up.  Because I think he needs to finish this.  Thank you very much Asalamualaikum.

Sheikh Hamza (0:00:00)>

<Dua in Arabic>

Inshallah, I’ve been…asked just to finish up a few things, I’m going to speak first short time and try to come to some conclusions about, a lot of what I was talking about.  And I would like to do that, by doing one thing, quickly looking, in a sense, at what the Islamic ideals, of an educated individual, and how that comes about.

And then, Muhammad Shareef is going to talk really, about the practicum, of an Islamic education that was used for several centuries, in the Sahara and in the last several century, and up to today, in Northern Nigeria. 

Just, in conclusion, about Western, about Western Civilization, I would like to quote, …from a man,… Paul Appleyard, who wrote a book …about Science.  And, although, I think it’s important for us…not to simply demonize science, because science is …honored in Islam.  But what I would say about that, is that every culture will create a science, that in a sense is unique to that culture. Based on its own…religious beliefs, and its presumptions brings to science itself. So, science is not disembodied logic, and that really is an idea, that has been thrown out by …uhm, by most 20th century thinkers.

Basically, what Appleyard, who is a science writer, for the …I think the Time’s in London, says, that ‘Science seems unable to co-exist with alternative explanations of belief systems.’  In other words, Modern science will tend to really laugh and ridicule the belief systems of…, say, religious traditions.  Now there are many Muslims that, have attempted to prove the validity of the Quran through Scientific justification, and there’s some some inherent dangers with that, in that, you are attempting to prove something that is certain, with something that, by its very nature, is subjective and limited. 

In other words, Science itself, in the Islamic tradition, is considered  a Dhani knowledge, it is not a knowledge that is based on revelation.  And therefore is susceptible to mistakes and problems.  And what happens in Western Civilization, is although the dominant model is dominant, it is rarely pointed out by those teaching it, that it is the dominant model. 

And as Is the nature of scientific revolutions, it will be supplanted by a model that comes along, that is a more convincing way of describing things.  So he says, that basically that it is incompatible. And this is not just true when its being exported from one nation to another.  But also when it competes with other systems within a single nation.  The science based liberal democracy is therefore tend towards a unity of unbelief.

  Really interesting, because this is a Non-Muslim writing this.  And if you put that into Arabic, you would say, “<Arabic>”, the unity of unbelief, and the Prophet Muhammad  (peace be upon him) was noted as saying, <Arabic> - that Kufr is one system, in other words, unbelief is one system.  So it is quite natural that its historical imperative would be to unify, in its unbelief.

You see, really quite extraordinary.

Now – he says here, that, “science is perfectly capable of marginalizing beleivers, without actually stripping them, of their un…of their belief.”  So it can marginalize what Carter called, “God as a hobby syndrome”.  It marginalizes religion, which is a really good way of putting it, because as Kierkegaard (sp) – one of the first philosophers to deal with Nihilism, and the problem of modern society, pointed out,  that the most, the most insidious aspect of modern nihilism is a leveling in which qualitative distinctions are weakened by a knowing reflection, and in other words, that it leaves, the modern nihilism, leaves everything standing, but cunningly empties it of significance. 

So the church is remaining, its standing as an institution, but it has no meaning in modern society.  And this is something that , unfortunately, post colonial Muslim governments have used the same strategies, for attempting to leave the mosques standing, but cunningly, deprived of its meaning within the culture.

And Islam is not amenable to this type of, really its not.  By the very nature of the mosque, unlike the church, by the very nature of the mosque and the recitation of Quran and the act of worship, there is a renewal that will occur, by that very nature.  And it has to reach a critical mass, then it becomes actually extremely dangerous for whatever the dominant Pharaoh of the time, happens to be.

Now in terms of just Islam.  Basically, what Islam is attempting to do, is to create a felicitous state in the human being, and this Is called in Arabic, “Saada”, in other words, Islam is a means, whereby a human being enters into a “Saada” in this world, which prepares him for a “Saada” in the next world.  So the idea, of of this happiness, or to be “Saeed”, is literally to submit to the moral constraints of Islam, outwardly, and be enriched, bythe spiritual nourishment that comes through, not only ritualized practice.  But practice that literally is designed, and according to our belief, by the creator himself, is designed to awaken, ones own internal experience.  So that the world, is not simply reduced to, external experiences, but actually there is an internal world, as well.  So the human being has a “Dhahir” and a “Battin” .  Is not simply reduced to a dhaahiry person.  But also has a Bhattiny.

Now – there is inherent dangers of both, the dharry danger is to be immersed in this outward formalization of knowledge and ritual.  And not to be nourished inwardly.  There is also an Bhattiny danger.  Which is to begin to reject the outward formalities and ritualizations.  And to thrive on some inward experiences.  And these are often seen in the dichotomies of the dry and ritualistic fuqahah, and the ecstatic and extreme suffiyah, or Ghoolat as-Suffiyah.  Not the, the moderates of both,  Is what Imam Shafi, the great Muslim jurisprudent as well as a extremely interior man said, uhm…, “You should be a faqih”, in his diwan, he said that you “should be a faqih and a Sufi, but don’t be just one of them”.  In other words, you should have an outward life, which is based on knowledge, but you should also have an inward life, which is based on the experience, or the tasting, the fruits of your actions.  So that the actions aren’t barren, because of  impure intentions and what not.

And, so, this, there’s two types of Saada: Dunyawia, or Okhrawiya.  Which is worldly and otherworldly.  And from the Islamic tradition, basically, there’s what’s called Nifaq, which is a covenant that is taken, and its man’s recognition and acknowledgement of God as his absolute Lord. And what education should do really, is engender in the human being, the realization of that nifaq, and its importance.  So that by the time the child emerges into puberty, it is ready to take on what is known as Takleef, or the amana of responsibility, the trust of responsibility, and that it can fulfill that trust. 

And…the, in terms of just the relationship of happiness to itself, there’s…Islam teaches us, that really, the Heart, or the seat of knowledge itself, is a spiritual substance, in the human being, which is referred to in the Quran as Qalb, Nafs, Akhal, & Rhuua, Its all these terms, Qalb, literally means heart.  Fuad, is another aspect.  Nafs is the self.  Aaklh which is the intellect, and Rhuua, which is the spirit.  Now – it has different names because of different accidental modes.  In other words , because of the different modes.  So, when the the mode of the self is engaged in bodily actions, like eating,  the desire to eat; Then we move into the realm of Nafs.  Which is part of our nature.  When it’s involved in intellection and apprehension, understanding, things like this.  Then it moves into the realm of the Akhal itself.   Then when it is engaged in receiving intuitive illumination, which is called Ilham, and spiritual insight, this is called the Qalb, or the Ruhua also. 

So, …these these are the different, …now the development of these in the human beings, is, as I mentioned in the beginning of this talk, is based on three different stages.  The first is Nafs ul-Luwama, the next is Nafs ul-Amara, which is the commanding self, The next is the Nafs ul-Luwama, which is the reproaching self, and the last is Nafs ul-Mootmaina.

Nafs ul Amara is literally when the human being is reduced to his animal nature.  And this human being is unfit to be a calipha, or a vice-regent on the Earth.  It is impossible for this individual to fulfill their divine function, which is literally to be a steward of the Earth.  And so they are reduced to their lowest nature <Arabic> the lowest of the low, and they literally, this is the path of what’s known as “Shahawat”.

The human being is not only encouraged to eat and drink, but eating and drinking of the good things of the Earth, but not to excess, and this Is the key that the Quran puts, this limit. 

So the horizontal freedoms are curtailed, as Abdul Haq Godless, likes to refer to them,  the horizontal freedoms of Islam are curtailed in order that the vertical freedom can be limitless.  In other words, the person limits, where they spread out on the Earth, in order for their energy’s to be directed upwards to a spiraling upward motion.  And so, the Shahawat , are honored in Islam, and they are actually sacrilized or turned into, commands in the Quran, <Arabic> , ‘Eat and Drink’ is a command in the Quran from God.  And so, we say, “Bismillah” when we eat, and this is literally the ah, turning these mundane simple acts actually into acts of worship.  And the same, The Prophet Muhammad <saws> said that a Man who goes to his wife, there is a reward in that.  And the companions were amazed, and said, “You mean, going to our wives, and taking our Shahwat that we get a reward?  And he said, don’t you see that if you go to the Haraam, you get a punishment, and likewise if you go to the halal, because out of this Taqwa of God, or this conscious awareness of God, then it is turned in again into a sacred act.  So, this is the sacrilization of the World, from the Islamic...  And so the Nafs-ul Amara must be curtailed, and the first mechanism for that is the Luwama, the Loum, which is the self, which literally attacks …and reproaches this negative, and it does it through Taubah and and spiritual exercises, and prayer is certainly and night prayers, and these things…

And finally, Nafs-ul Mootmaina, when the self has, …is no longer is bound by the Amara, it is literally been freed of the commanding self.  And now is in a state of <Arabic>, and the way to achieve that is, according to the Quran,  through the dhikr of Allah Subhanawatallah.  It is through the conscious remembrance of God, so that when one literally is remembering God, in the highest way, then one conquers the lower self.  And Then the lower self becomes a beast that the human being can ride and is not ridden by it. And this human being is worthy of being the Calipha, or the vice regent of God.  Because that human being has conquered the self.  Which is now a vehicle, and no longer controlling them.

Now, the way in which, and I think this is really, this book, which is called “A is for Ox”, a brilliant, some brilliant insights, which I think are applicable to Islam.  And that, … Because he sees, he views the crisis as a… separation from oral tradition, and literate tradition.

And Because there is no more an oral tradition in this culture, due to television and electronic media, children are no longer really capable of being truly literate, which he believes is creating a conscious, in other worlds that literacy is one way in which conscious emerges from the human self.

Now, Islam is, one of the most fascinating things about Islam, is that it introduces a book into an oral culture.  So, that the Quran is literally a bridge between orality and literacy, in fact, it took an oral people to becoming the most literate human beings that have ever existed on the face of the Earth;  by the testimony of not just the Muslims, but by the testimony of the Non-Muslims.  And you can read the “Age of Faith” by Will Durant, in which he talks about the the really peerless civilization of books and knowledge, that was created during what is usually termed by orientalists, as the Golden Age of Islam.

So, the Quran and the Hadith tradition, have uniquely bound us to the oral tradition.  In other words the Quran is learned orally, before it is learned literally.  And it is a reading before it is a book.  It is a Quran before it is Kitab.  You see, which is a book.

So the oral tradition, of Islam, is honored and nurtured.  Now, one of the things that is important in every culture, is the act of storytelling, “Riwaya” in Arabic.  A Riwaya in Arabic, literally means to quench the thirst .  It comes from, If you look at the root word, it comes from a word to “Quench the thirst”.  And a story, we are in need of stories.  We are in need of narratives, as human being we are in need of narratives.  And the Quran, is a narrative,  <Arabic>, it’s literally telling us a story, there are Qasas in the Quran.  So human beings need stories in which meanings literally emerge, and so really, this is one of the main functions of education, is to present the divine narratives, in which all other narratives are literally, put to the test by. 

In other words, the Quran is the touchstone of reality for all narratives.  If the narratives do not harmonize with the Quran, then they’re invalid.  And this is why the Quran is “Mohamin, it is an overseer of all the previous narratives. 

So, the Narratives of the Greeks, the narratives of the Jews, the narratives of the Christians, of the Magians, of the Buddhists, of the Hindu’s, all of the narratives must be placed before the authority of the Quran itself.  And this is the Islamic worldview, and from that, wisdom can be derived, and this is what the Prophet Muhammad (sallalahualayhiwasalam) said, “Wisdom is the lost beast of the Mumin, wherever he finds it, he is more worthy of it.” 

And so, we’re inculcating the Quranic world view into children.  And this is why from the age of about 6, late 6, which is…and really educating children prior to that is…criminal.  In a sense, because they are, really not intellectually ready for that.  And they can learn to read and write, you can teach children, 3, 4, some children learn even earlier then that.  But, it is depriving them of that right of “Luab”, of “play”.  And this is what needs to be nourished, during that time. 

And children that are taught before that age, you can see a qualitative difference in their being and behavior.  They don’t look as healthy, as other children.  They’re often times, not as bright as other children.  Just In terms of bright, I don’t mean intellectually.  I mean bright in a spiritual sense.  You know that children radiate this brightness and when they don’t radiate it, it means something’s putting it out.

And So, the, traditionally in the Muslim world, children literally memorized the Quran.  And this is, I personally believe, the effect that this will have on the developing brain, is something phenomenal.  

And my own experience with people who memorize the Quran in their youth, is that, although often I’ve met many, that are like tape recorders in the sense, that they don’t know what the book means, and they might not have reflected on it a lot.  But they just, they’ve got it there.

But the people that have, who went on to develop their intellects, are just the most phenomenal intellects that I’ve personally ever met.  And I,… And I think that’s a testimony to the power that the Quran literally presents, to the one who has internalized it, and become a “Hamil”, a barri…a bearer of the Book of Allah, “Subhanawatallah.”

And so, the, …from that, from the basis of this Quran, this divine narrative, then a child emerges into the world of abstraction.  Which is where the narrative begins to emerge as a understandable, element in their lives.  And the interioralization of the ethics of the Quran, of the spirituality of the Quran, and what the Quran is actually calling to.  And the Quran says, <Arabic  from Quran >,

“This Quran guides to what is upright, and it gives good news to those who believe in it, who do right actions, that they will have a great reward.“ 

And their reward, is not simply in the next world, but also in this world, in terms of realizing of Quranic civilization.  Which is a high ideal, and has been realized more then once in human history.  And if people are severed from the Quran, then they enter the crookedness of other narrations. 

And the Quran reminds us, that it is a book without crookedness.  There is no crookedness in it, and thus, what emerges from it, is the “istiqama”, or the uprightness, or the straightness of any society that takes it on, has the grand narrative of the society, and what has been lost in the West, is what they call the “Grand Narrative”.  What they call, quote unquote, idols, have fallen by the way side, and they’re left in this freefall, of nihilistic tendencies, and banished to cyberspace.  Where they, will roam down the information superhighway, going, really to what, Stephen J Gould called, an eloquent dance to nowhere, and it’s not even eloquent really, it’s just a kind of pathetic, aping, of the worst human characteristics and tendencies.

So, with that, I’m going to ask Muhammad Sharif, and I would just like to say, that Muhammad Sharif and I, have a reasonably long history, in terms of our Islamic experience, we become Muslims at the same times.  He went to what’s called the “Bilad us-Sudan”, which means, the “Land of the Blacks”, in Arabic, and I went to “Bilad un-Naydaan”, which means the “Land of the Whites” in Arabic which I was in West Africa, and he was in East Africa.  And, Not, you know, that’s just coincidental, I mean I didn’t go there, because it was Bilad un-Naydaan.  That’s just what it happened to be.

And we studied, in similar types of institutes, with very similar texts and things like that.  And we, what we did, was both of us, we had a taste, and it was a short but extremely intense and sweet taste, of really what the Islamic madrassa is like, and the type of people it produces. 

Now, having said all that, I have to admit, there are very great short comings in it, and and, there are reasons for the historical stagnation of the Islamic intellectual tradition, but the fact is that in many ways, there are very vibrant and dynamic elements of  it that still exist in the Sahara, and the sub-Sahara, and I think that’s what he’s going to talk about, so, I would just like to ask him, and thank you very much.

Muhammad Shareef (0:23:34)>

Takbir! Takbir! Takbir!


I’ll briefly try to make a gloss over what Sidi Hamza Yusuf


Moderator (1:02:12)>


Inshallah, this is now, time for questions, we’re going to entertain questions from the audience, we’re now asking Br Yusuf to collect questions, and then we will filter them out and...

Sheikh Hamza (1:02:50)>


<Question>I can feel conflict, in what you’re saying here, are we, not to seek the best education?  How about <Arabic>

What of…<> seek knowledge, even onto China? One of the miserable Elite from Stanford.

<Answer>Seek knowledge, even in China, which Ibn Abu Burr <Arabic> Hafiz of Maghrib, mentions in his Book, “Jami ul-Ilm whar Bayaan”, is…a…hadith that basically…the meaning is true, even if the Isnad has some Nazar in it.  But the meaning is true, seek knowledge even onto China.

But, like I was saying earlier, is that, every every system of education will have a world view that goes with it, and unfortunately, the Western system of education will not produce the individual that, Muhammad Shareef was describing, in his talk.

And My proof is, in the society that these higher systems of education have created.  This does not mean that there’s no benefit in the University systems, there’s no….there is.  And if there wasn’t, of course, you know…it wouldn’t work.  And that’s important, because every, every falsehood, every false doctrine, has to have some element of truth in it.

Every…I mean, this is the nature of existence.  Christianity there has to be truth there, the same with any religious tradition.  If there wasn’t truth there, you certainly would not have the masses of people that follow it, do.  And…but it is the admixture of truth and falsehood which is so dangerous, you see. This is what the Arabs traditionally call, <Arabic>, it’s the poison in the honey.  You see, because if it wasn’t sweet, you would spit it out.  And this is why, I think that…there are many brilliant critiques of Western Educational systems, you just need to read the books, and things like that. 

Also, its difficult, for someone who is in Stanford, when they hear some.  I mean its hard, if someone suddenly gets their PhD, and then you tell them, it was a big waste of time, although, I think , after a period of time, they come to that realization on their own.  To be honest with you. 

Most of the people that I’ve met, who have PhD’s, like Sheikh Ahmed here, <laughing> they will tell you, in the depths of their inner honesty that, it was all a waste of time, usually.  And that’s really tragic.  Because a lot of effort and work went into it.  And a lot of time the students do believe in the system.  And I’ve found this is consistent not just with the humanities, which end up creating the most inhumane people, but also the sciences as well.  Because a lot of people become very disillusioned with the sciences, including Medicine, interestingly enough.

<Question> In terms, of grading, why not, Allah Subhanawatallah give us, each one, his place, or status or Grade, when we enter heaven, based on what we earned on this life?

<Answer> Well, this is a good point, you see, in other words, who is grading you.  Is it the institution?  Or are you learning for Allah, Subhanawatallah?  If you’re learning for Allah, let that grade be between you and Allah Subhanawatallah. 

And ultimately, we will not know our grade until the Day of the Big Test.  Which is “Uom ul-Kiyama”.  If you want to look at it, in those metaphorical terms. 

But, an institution that is grading you, encourages knowledge to be sought for other then for the sake of Allah, it it, engenders in the student, actually the desire to impress their teachers, their peers, and those are all unfortunate side effects. 

But I think the worst aspect of it, is that, …is just what I said.  When you put people on a continuum, and this person is an A student, and this is an F student.  This is an arbitrary way of judging these people.  And it’s simply not true.  It’s not true.  Many A students, are some of the worst students and, in the class.  And many of the students that get poor grades are actually some of the best students.  And that, I’m not making this up.  This is true. 

Students often times have a much better understanding, but because they haven’t memorized all the stupid facts and figures, they don’t do well on tests and examinations.  And students that are brilliant at memorizing, and putting all these formula’s in their head, although they don’t understand it. If you slightly change the variation, suddenly they’re…they can’t, they have no creative responses. 

So grading is just, … measuring just one aspect, of, it’s what’s called sensible memory actually.  And it does not measure understanding.  And these quantifiable examinations, like the SAT and things like that.  Really, you can go to take tests, and learn how to work out a lot of their so called reasoning systems.  So,

Uh….uh huh? <talking in background>

<Question>Is it possible to attend a university and retain ones innocence of soul.  How?  What if I want to go to an Islamic school, where can I go, how do I get there?

<Answer>   Well, this is part of our crisis.  As Muslims, now I’m talking to people in here who are Muslim, which I think are the vast majority. 

Part of the crisis, of the Muslim ummah, has been an educational crisis.  And most societies, really their crisis is ultimately, a crisis of education and world view.  And part of it is our educational systems were dismantled, and one of the things that happened in the late 19th century, is this attack on Taqlid, and this attack on studying all these old texts that were written a thousand years ago, and attempts to revise ijtihad, and this was a reaction by Scholars who we will  have good opinions of, anyway, because it’s probably better.  People like, Muhammad Abdu, uhmm, that you know, Allahualim what their intentions were, but, you know they may very well have been, good intentions , but… like Shakespeare said, “Sometimes good intentions, pave the way to hell”.  

So, Because good intentions have to have Tawfiq as well, which is a whole other theological excursions.

So the idea, that our, you know, universities were dismantled, and literally al-Azhar, “Niyameeya”, the universities in Samarqand, in India, in, in, even the Deoband is a modernist response, really, is a modernist response to the incursions of… you know, attacks on Traditionalism. 

And the same with the Khairoun, in North Africa, and the Zaytuna in, and these institutions, also studied other things, it wasn’t simply religious institutions, but the idea of secularizing knowledge, and creating institutions where secular knowledge was learned, without any foundation in our spiritual tradition, leads to an individual, in the muslim culture, that is, they’re very unhealthy.  And these are the people that end up, unfortunately, being the, people that run the societies, and work in the ministries, and work in the, and this is a lot of where the crisis’s come.

So, we need to create, literally, Islamic schools and universities.  And this is a challenge of our age.

<Question> Who can teach me the Quran and Arabic, I don’t even speak Arabic.  Even If I did, how could I comprehend something so complex.

<Question> Uh…What else does it say?

<Question> Ohh..You mentioned something about time being God, please elaborate.

<Answer> Well, that Hadith is <Arabic “Shabihat”> but the general interpretation of it is in, one narration where it says, <Arabic>, “In the <Yad> of Allah is the night and the day”. 

In other words, God is the possessor of time.  And time is not something to be cursed, because the vicissitudes of time are, from God, and one of the things the Arabs used to do, was curse “Dhaar”, time was like this bad thing that brought tragedy, and things like that.  So, what the Islamic teaching was, to accept that even tragedy is a test, from Allah, Subhanawatallah. And that one should not curse time, because time is part of Allah’s creation, and not something extraneous or outside of Allah’s creation.

<Question>Someday, I will…uhmmm….Where should we go, if we really want to study Islamic.

<Answer> That’s another really good question.  I mean unfortunatly, the you know the Muslim world, what Khalid Blankmanship says is that really you can’t trust any book written after 1860, in the Islamic world, because of the insidious effects of Modernism.

Modernity, had already began to influence, very seriously, the outlooks and views of Muslims.  They were already redacting their tradition, or reinterpreting it, within the constraints of the, what is known as modernity.  Which is the, You know, the exaltation of rationalism, & the idea of progress.  Which is utterly false idea in the Islamic tradition. 

The idea of progress, and if you call this progress, all this stuff we have out here, talking to a microphone, I mean, you have a warped understanding of what “things getting better” mean.  Because…

<Question>In today’s classrooms, how do you propose to change some of the problems, you mentioned in your talk.  Grades, grading systems, technology, Jazakullah Khairoon.

<Answer> Grades again, I personally don’t believe that grades are a good thing. I think they are a very negative thing.  I think children need to be, should not be quantified by numbers. 

There is, encouragement and giving children feedback is important. 

But I think numerical grades, and telling a child that their work is excellent, and another childs is average, children should be looked at as individuals, their work should be looked at as an individualist work, and not in comparison to other children.  Because that is not the point to education.  You should not be comparing them to other children, they  are a thing unto themselves, and they have a right to be treated with that respect. 

And this is that beautiful, what Muhammad Shareef mentioned about that Scholar being patient with the dim-witted.  You know, and not being,…and that’s so beautiful because, it’s just a recognition that Allah has given people different gifts.  Some people have, can acquire things intellectually very quickly.  And other people take more time.

And I know a beautiful story, I was told in Mauritania.  I was frustrated by something, because I Wasn’t understanding it, and one of the teachers there, told me about a man who had read a book nine times, and he couldn’t understand it.  And it was Mukhtasar Khaleel, which is a very hard book. 

And on the ninth time, he just decided to give up, and he would quite studying, and go look after sheep or something.

And he was sitting down, thinking about this, all the energy he had put in, and he saw a little ant, going up an anthill carrying a piece, a crumb, of bread.  And each time he would, right before he would get to the top, he would drop the crumb, and it would go down.

And he watched this ant do this 9 times, and on the 10th time, the ant made it over. 

And he said, “Subhanallah, should I let an ant have a higher himma, a higher aspiration then me?”, and he decided to try it one more time, and he had an opening on his tenth time.

And again, this is indicative of the Muslim belief that Knowledge is an unlocking that takes place from God.  Allah Subhanawatallah, is the one <Arabic>, you know, Allah is the one that opens up things.  In Suhratul Fatiha, is the opener, and what do we ask for?  <Arabic>, you’re asking for God’s guidance. 

And, beautiful story of Ibn Sina, who, despite his faults, we should look at some of his good qualities.

Ibn Sina, whenever he had a difficult thing, that he could not solve, he would start doing “Rakat”, and he would not stop doing the Rakat, until the solution came to him. 

And this was something, that these scholars knew, that Knowledge is from Allah Subhanawatallah.  It’s not, Allah is the giver of knowledge.  And the teacher is really like a midwife, whose whose, literally, is just helping the knowledge emerge from the child, from the student. 

I mean that is what a teacher is.  A teacher is a murabi.  And a murabi is the one that nurtures, that pours the water in, but allows the plant to grow as it would.  It just gives  the sustenance to the..thing.

So, you know, a grading system, again, I think,  just throw them out, I really do. 

Its an innovation, it’s a Bida.It’s a Bida from…everyone talks about Bida, Now that’s a Bida.  Nobody wants the...  It’s an innovation from some Cambridge scholar from the 17th century, from just…

<Question>And technology, the thing about technology, “Why not learn about cyberspace”? 

<Answer>Because you will literally be I mean, like in Russia they used to be sent to Siberia with an S.  And here, they send them to Siberia with a C.  I mean, literally, it should be seen as imprisoned in virtual reality.  We want real reality, not virtual reality.

I mean, <Arabic>…, this is, “Allah increase me in Knowledge”, is not about cyberspace, I guarantee you that.  It’s not, Cyberspace is actually a really frightening.

The World wide Web.  Just listen to what words mean, Bait ul-Ankhaboot, in Arabic,  I mean seriously, I’m not…I don’t think that’s a joke.  Just look at it, in the Quranic vocabulary, what a web is, what the nature of a web is. 

A web is meant to trap people.  That’s what it does.  And the thing is, is you’re just flying along, you know, and you get caught in a web, and before you know it, you’re the spiders lunch. 

And that’s what it is, And that’s what they say, “Get online”, you know, there’s amazing commercials they do, this is part of it.  Because, they want to sell technology, so they have this commercial where There’s this guy comes in and says, “Hey John, how you doing”

“Oh great, just, I just got online here.”

And he said, “Oh, listen, I have to go because I need to get flowers for my mom, its Mothers day, and then I need to get tickets to such.”

“Oh don’t worry Jack, we can do it right here, online, you know?”

And he says, “Really?  Well what do you do? “

And he says, “Oh here, let me show you.”

“Oh no, I can’t do that”

“No no, it’s really easy.”

And before you know it, they’re both there,, having a great time, and this is, this is …utopia, this is the great, …uhmm

<soft conversation in the back>

Yeah, absolutely.

<Question>Were you implying in your speech, that the only way to preserve your childsfitra’ is to educate him or her in an Islamic environment?

<Answer>Absolutely, absolutely, that is the only way.  And at best, we will only have that one, have on the thing, with the child and the parent, but the society  is going against them, this creates a state of confusion.  And that’s at best.  There’s still going to be, and I’ve seen this all over the United States, Muslim youth, really wonderful, but they’re confused.


Go to Muslim conferences and see the, and I can  see Muslim youth in here, and I know, they they, it’s very difficult trying to work out what all this means.  And what we should do, and where do we go? These things, I mean, somebody said to me, you know it’s good since he got to America because now he has to think about where his food came from, because when he lived in Pakistan, he never had to think about halal food.

Well that’s the whole point! <soft laughing>, that you don’t have to think about that stuff. You know, that the butcher is a Muslim, so you can think about higher things. <soft laughing>  Instead of your stomach.

Which seems to be a major concern, people in this country, Muslims that come here. 

Oh, I would just say about Audrey Shabaaz, who came here, uhmm, who, if people are aware of her organization, which is called AWAIR, A-W-A-I-R, and, you know, what Audrey does, is she’s a teacher who literally goes all over the US, and other places as well, and gives talks on Islam, and I’ve seen her presentations, and they’re very impressive, and she’s had a major impact in in the field of, introducing some Islamic, perspectives, into dealing with Islam, in the school system, because now Islam is taught in the 7th and the 9th grade.  And her organization needs the Muslim Communities support, and I think they’re going to be handing out, ways that you can help them, and it’s certainly a very worthy cause. 

<Question>: If you have a choice of going oversees like South Africa or going to University in the USA, like Virginia or Chicago to study Islam, which would you recommend.

<Answer>: I would….based on what I’ve seen on the curriculum’s of Virginia and Chicago, I would go to … West Africa <laughing>.

Muhammad Shareef (1:22:31)>

Sheikh Hamza (1:26:18)>


Well, that is a good answer, that ..certainly, we, one of the, and I mentioned on my talk on this, on the shortcomings of the system education.

First of all, we have to realize that Muhammad Shareef and myself were, was actually a very primitive form of the classical madrassa system. 

In fact, because it was in, such areas the colonialists, it took them a long time to get there, due to…malaria, because of the terrain, because they really weren’t that interested, in terms of exploiting those countries, so there was a preservation of those traditions from there. 

But the universities in Fez, in…Khairoun, in Zaytuna, in Tunisia, in Egypt, I mean these were universities that had, Medicine, that had astronomy, that had mathematics, that had many of these sciences.

Now there is no doubt, that initially there was an extraordinary, resurgence of that , especially during the Mutazila period, because to the emphasis on rationalism, and on the intellect itself.  And that began to die down, and I think that …there’s very sound explanations on why that happened. And there’s no doubt that the, two emphasize strictly on the religious training, and to neglect the aspects of these other sciences, is very dangerous to the balance of a society. 

But what I would say, that the Muslims, view these sciences as inherently sacred in themselves, as a “Fard Khifaya”.  In other words, mathematics and all these, are religious sciences, so Islam does not separate from the secular and the sacred, in the same way as the Christian has done.

Somebody asked in here, explain how a Muslim can have the qualities of a Jew or Christian, you mentioned in the beginning.

Now, if there are any Jewish or Christian people in the audience, I just want to say , again, I’m talking at a archetypal level, not about individuals.

And, basically the Quranic archetypes it presents for the Jewish archetype, is that of people that know the truth but don’t act according to it.  And the other aspect is is gross materialism.  And part of that is due, that the dominant Judaic tradition was that there was no afterlife. 

In other words, the purpose of the Judaic tradition was the historicity, of the community itself.  That the community was maintained historically.  And the continuity of the Jewish tradition.  This is why in the Jewish tradition, the sacred rituals, actually the sacred rituals, are historical rituals.  Like the Passover, and these types of things, celebrating the exodus. 

So, what happens when that is taken to extremes, is materialism.  And in a sense, Isa Alahissalaam, was an antidote, to materialism, because he was pure, spirituality.  In fact, he was called Ruh-Allah, <laughing>, that’s his name.  If you don’t get the point…you know. 

Uhm…He didn’t have, a place where he put his head.  The man was a complete aesthetic.  He had left the world completely, and that was a cure.  And sometimes medicine has to be an extreme, in order to cure the social sicknesses. 

So he came, with a cure.  This is why his teaching is not complete in itself.  It must be taken into historical context.  In other words, the Christian aesthecism, must be seen in the light of the material extremism of the age, when he came.

And to take it out of its historical context, perverts it.

And so what happens is you get the other thing, which is the extreme leaving the world.  So, In other words, the Christian went astray by completely ignoring the world, and eventually the world came back with a massive, Now they’ve gone to the opposite, which is pornography everywhere, it’s a complete indulgence, in the sensual.

And a, a complete forgetfulness about the Akhira.  Which is Surah ur-Rome…

<aside> Yeah, Inshallah.

Surah of the Romans, That Allah says, <Arabic from the Quran>,

“They know the outward of this world, most people don’t know anything. 

And then Allah, he negates their knowledge, then he confirms their knowledge, by saying, they know the outward of this world.  But, as the next world, they are in heedlessness about it. 

So, What happens, I think, is that when Muslims neglect although they know the truth, they neglect the religious traditions, and emphasize the materialism, or material aspects, this is that archetype that deviates, which is the Hebrewaic deviation.  And when they go to the extreme of the other worldliness, and forget the concerns of this world, then they deviate in that other matter.

So, and then the Magian, in the sense, is an interesting, dichotomy of the two.  Believing in the two Gods of the … The God of light of the next world, and the God of Darkness in this world. 

So, the ideal is to be a balance between of the two.

<Question> What happened to the golden age of Islam, when the Muslims were at the forefront of Mathematics, Science and Literature?  Some blame the Mualim, who focused on ritualistic practice, while staying away from secular subjects, do you agree?

<Answer> Again, to just blame, I mean, the point is.<Arabic>,

The nature of civilization is to rise, and to fall.  And what the Quran is, is an articulation of Sunnan, of why that happens. 

Because, the Quran is trying to teach us, “Why”, not so much, “how”.  Because we can learn the how.

 But the why is the important thing, why do nations…?

And Allah gives us very clear reasons for that.  And certainly not due to emphasis on Ibadaat.  <laughing>  I guarantee you, and that’s one of the reasons civilizations get Tawfeeq, or benefit, from Allah.

So the emphasis on Ibadaat, is not what is the cause of the Muslim decline.  I think, part of it is, actually is the Kibir, or the arrogance, that began to manifest in the Muslim societies, where they saw themselves as superior to other societies, and some of the letters the Muslim rulers began wrote to  write to Christian rulers and other rulers, were so denigrating.  I Instead of, the Prophet, who use to write letters like <Arabic>, to the Great Emperor of the Romans, as a way, because he wanted to make dawah to them.

Whereas, you know, less then 500 years later, you have the Sultan, you know, sending a letter: <Arabic> From the Dogs of the dogs of Rome.  You know.  And, it’s just unbelievable. 

So, I think that has more to do with it, then other things.  And also a descent into the world, and leaving Jihad.  And leaving the struggle, that Allah demands for people.

Anyway, I,  there’s a lot of question, and I’m actually starting to collect questions.

<Aside> What’s that?

Oh alright, great…

Moderator (1:34:00)>

I’m afraid this is the end of the Question period. Really I hope you will understand, there are so many questions, wonderful questions, that we just can’t entertain…

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf(1:34:00)>

They’re actually very good questions

Moderator (1:34:00)>

Yes, wonderful questions really, On a positive note, I hear we have a sister outside, who wants to take shahadah, so it will be a wonderful thing for us to close this session this evening with a Shahadah.

So may the person, just, come upfront, Inshallah?