BBC Interview: 5 Live

Transcript Details

Event Name: BBC Interview: 5 Live
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 4/9/2019
Transcript Version: 1

Transcript Text

On five line, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf has been described in the press as the most influential Islamic scholar a convert to Islam.  He's the founder of the Zaytuna Institute in California which seeks to

educate people about the Muslim faith.  He has also been described by one newspaper as President Bush's pet Muslim.  You're very welcome on our program this morning

Thank you very much indeed for coming in are you President Bush's link to the Muslim world.  Have you been that

no no I think after September 11th I was the Muslim that was invited in to discuss the situation with him so I think there was a lot of misunderstanding about that that came out of that but in fact you know I think it's quite the opposite

you were responsible they were changing the name of operation infinite justice

Right I did bring that up in that meeting.  that infinite justice was and I think Christians and Jews and any other monotheistic traditions would certainly consider infinite justice a blasphemous

concept the idea that somehow that

America has infinite capacity for being

yes yes that kind of control-freak Reid

doesn't tend to well yeah I think the

response that was the president said

that we don't have theologians in the

Pentagon and I think that that would

probably be kind of an interesting idea

to maybe bring some theologians in to

discuss things because it seems like the

moral the moral case is very weak you've

said some very interesting things about

where Islam is at the moment and the

fact that you believe it's experiencing

quite a dark age why well I would say I

would say that the Muslims in a sense

are going through a particularly

difficult time I think that the the

Muslims were very successful

civilization and people for centuries

and and in a way it's difficult for us

in the West to to kind of imagine how

the scenario was because for many many

centuries it was in fact the

Muslims that were the enlightened people

and the people of education erudition

and and right now in in this

post-colonial period that's been going

on for some time and the decline of

Islam was going on for a very long time

but the the the post-colonial period is

particularly painful because not only

were the institutions dismantled during

the colonial period educational

institutions so scholars for instance in

the Muslim world we we really are

suffering from the dearth of scholars in

the Muslim world and because of that a

lot of people that are not trained or

educated theologically or in Islamic

jurisprudence have suddenly become these

spokesmen for the Islamic tradition and

very often their their extreme in their

views and these views are put forward

somehow as being mainstream Islam which

it's it's like taking something like

David Koresh from from Waco Texas and

saying that he represents mainstream

Christianity was that what had happened

with the Taliban because I know that the

worst so what I got is who believed that

they were actually not forward-looking

and they had used an interpretation that

was really quite backwards well I think

that the Taliban I personally I really

feel that the Taliban it was an attempt

at just stabilizing an incredibly

destabilized condition and I think that

for instance you know this we often saw

on the on the on the news media this one

it was the same picture over and over

again of some Taliban hitting a woman

and we don't really know if it was a

thottie bond but that's what the image

showed and I think that you know you can

take a picture like Rodney King being

beaten by the LA police and suddenly all

American policemen are going around

beating people up so I you know I think

one of the things that the media does

the LAPD did admit they had a problem

well they do have a problem and and and

but my point is is that what the media

tends to do is put a magnifying glass on

things and suddenly it would appear that

that's the only thing going on I think

what was ironic was when the National

Geographic found the famous picture of

that Pathan woman who had been on the

cover as a little girl

she actually said that she fared quite

well under them I think what people

don't realize is that the entire country

was in a state of anarchy indeed they

did shut down the schools they told

women to stay at homes but part of the

reason why they took over in the first

place it was because of the rape of the

town woman by the the the northern

Afghanistan unfortunate situation but I

also feel that there's been an

incredible amount of disinformation

personally and I did speak to a lot of

people that were there during that time

I think that the biggest mistake that

that group made was aligning with very

radical elements that were in the

country that were foreign because the

Afghani people and and I'd lived quite

quite who spent quite a bit of time many

of my students have been Afghan Afghanis

people are actually a very there are

wonderful people there and and I think

many of the the Western people that have

gone to Afghanistan and there's a famous

French for photographer Roland who spent

a great deal of time there has recently

put out a book just saying that the

Afghanistan he reads in the newspapers

it's not the Afghanistan he knew in the

1960s which was a land of just

incredible beauty both in its human

population as well as its physical

geography would you say though that you

could make quite a fair comparison to

politics in this country whereby people

say the rise of the right has been

allowed because there is a slightly kind

of more abundant stagnated platform in

British politics is it the same in the

Islamic world that fundamentalism has

been allowed to thrive no I don't think

there's any comparison at all because I

think what happens in the West one of

the things that happens when when you do

have a considerable amount of Liberty

and and and freedom to do what you want

a lot of people here just don't think

about politics a great deal in the West

particularly in America I mean America

although it does have a lot of political

activism the political activism it tends

to be more like football teams like I'm

a Republican you're a Democrat and it's

more Raiders and Buccaneers type

approach to things but in terms of

serious political

standing I think that that the Muslim

world has been living under despotism

for so long that fundamentalism becomes

a pathological reaction to the the deep

repressive elements that have been

controlling the Muslim world and so

religion becomes a liberation theology

it becomes a voice for the voiceless and

and I think really that's at the root of

a lot of the problems for instance if

you look at in the Palestinian situation

in the 1960s and 70s it was Marxism

which was the dominant method of

rebellion or not rather not rebellion

but just as as their political voice and

in the 80s and 90s it begins to move

into an Islamic discourse but they bring

in a lot of Marxist elements into the

discourse and so I think what's happened

in the Muslim world is you've had a

great deal of influence from Marxism and

so the the Islamic political movements

have often been tainted by a type of

Marxist revolutionary rhetoric because

Islam is not in fact a revolutionary

tradition it attempts to purify existing

societies rather than to completely turn

them upside down but purify through

conversion purify through right through

through converting and through also

through principles I mean I think the

Islamic tradition is a tradition that

it's not a theocratic tradition in the

sense that we don't God is not speaking

directly to us

the Muslims also believe in the idea of

natural law and they believe in in

Revelation as principles that have been

given through a messenger and then the

human mind attempts to apply those

principles in the world but human beings

are always going to fall short of that

and I think one of the things that what

what what extremists do is they arrogate

to themselves the voice of God and that

is why they're able to kill people

innocently because they really believe

that they're acting with

absolute authority and and this is I

mean every religious tradition

recognizes the total fallacy in that in

that perspective let's hear from Colin

who's in Kingsland Mohammed who's in

Birmingham and Farida who's in Kingsbury

hello Colin very good morning to your

three to Sheikh Hamza Yusuf a good

morning Sheikh good morning as you see

my question is really directed as a

person of color in the United Kingdom

I'm so afraid of what people in the

Islamic community are doing that there

is no one actually in the UK from the

moderate Islamic communities who are

speaking out against what I believe now

is a cancer in your religion I be

someone has hijacked your religion to

the point where do you believe that

Colin I mean based based on what what's

the manifestation of that cancer well

you only have to look around you around

every corner of the globe at the moment

in the 1980s you had the problem was

communism and so on and so forth right

now the biggest problem that this world

faces where I have a nine year old is my

fear now is Islam and where it is going

and all I want is for people like

yourself who are reasonable to actually

address your community and actually find

out why is it that your religion is

inherently intolerant right well first

of all I would say that I think you you

what what you need to do I mean in

religious studies we have an idea of

what's called descriptive and normative

practice and descriptive is what people

do normative is what the actual religion

teaches and and I think what you have to

look at it you know when historians look

back at this century the 20th century

and now we're moving into the 21st I

think that what's going to be really

obvious is that that the the most

violent people on the planet have

clearly been Western Europeans and


much more violent I mean the number of

deaths that we have caused with our

weapons of mass destruction reduces the

rest of the world to two really very

small numbers and the Muslim world

probably less than than two percent of

the violence in the last hundred years

has actually had anything to do with the

Muslim world so I think it's it's very

distorted because we don't really look

in in these historical perspectives I

mean I feel that one of the things about

the Muslim world is it has been

suffering a great deal and I think that

what we're seeing it as opposed to a

cancer I would say that it's an its

feverish it's it's it's a it's a immune

system response that that is out of

balance but because there is a great

deal of suffering going on I mean if we

look right now just at the globe people

are very unaware of what's happening in

Chechnya Kashmir in Palestine in Algeria

in in in places where where there's just

an immense amount of suffering and

certainly in Iraq and and and I think a

lot of Muslims feel that and they're

incredibly frustrated because they are a

voiceless community that that they

really believe is not being listened to

and unfortunately I mean I I personally

really feel that want to want one of the

things that these extremist elements are

is that they are a scream or a shout for

an entire civilization and community to

be heard and this is one-fifth of the

world's population and if we don't start

listening I really feel that it is going

to get worse and and that and that will

be just a tragic calling you surely

don't equate all Muslims with the kind

of actions that we saw by people

claiming to be part of that faith on

September the 11th and they weren't

actually they weren't at obeying the

rules of against the cream I don't I

don't equate all Muslims this is the

point I'm saying there is a problem too

often too often they're they use this

excuse or that excuse of to accuse

certain thing look as a Christian that

central tenant of my faith tells me to

forgive my enemy doesn't tell me to go

murder my enemy but there are many

people who have claimed Christianity to

be their religion who have attacked and

who have shown aggression : I mean are

you really fearful of jonasson face at

the moment I the point that the sheiks

made is valid they're over the

generations Christians have been far

more responsible for far more deaths I

can accept that but the point is my

daughter doesn't live in the 18th

century or the 17th the 20th she lives

now and I want her to be able to get on

the flight when she's 18

but you can't hold that against every

Muslim : but why why don't we have more

people actually come out and say thank

you very much of that call it was

something that Margaret Thatcher and

said after September the 11th she

wanting to see more leadership from the

Muslim community or as coach and I'm

damming it and there that we had we do

have serious complications here I mean I

think that that overall for instance

Palestine Palestine is incredibly

complicated and and it and it it does

muddy the waters for clear thinking

about things because I think the vast

majority of Muslims do view that the

Palestinians have inherent rights there

and and and what they do even if it's

these extreme acts I mean I I personally

am completely against the use of

violence against as civilians against

women and children and also what would

be termed as as something that is beyond

government authority if you're acting as

a vigilante not without with that I mean

it's just

anarchy and Islam prohibits any type of


will take more calls a 599 six nine

three after the travel but also we have

a statement which has just been received

here it says that the government has

been forced

to make a common statement on airport

security the common speaker has agreed

to the requests made by the

Conservatives at this stage it hasn't

been confirmed whether the Home

Secretary David Blunkett will make this

statement there also their statement on

Iraq from the Foreign Secretary Jack

Straw and the weekly business statement

from the Commons leader Robin Cook so

probably the first will start at 12:30

and Jack Straw on probably at 1:15

you'll hear all of those things here on

five live hello Anna Perth and Kinross

first of all at the a 9m ninety a 93

Broxton roundabout temporary roadworks

are going on until 3:30 this afternoon

they reduced the roundabout to one lane

only so allow for delays on all

approaches in Stirling the a 875 stays

closed for accident recovery between

Balfron and the a8 double one junction

at chemic Hill no change in Cheshire

either they're still clearing the lorry

load from the a 54 northbound at Bosley

north of Congleton so in the meantime

that side of the road stays close in

Derbyshire though the a a 38 has

reopened northbound after an early a car

fire at the 852 Junction at Mark Eaton

the a5 double one in Staffordshire

that's still closed after this morning's

accident on Ashby Road in

burton-upon-trent and on public

transport there are still delays on

London's tube network following this

morning's major signal failure and

erosion by fly travel not all the

weekend stories are sport related we'll

be bringing you the full story and the

background to today's Shuttle disaster

last few minutes nASA has announced that

it started an inquiry started in the

left wind the rest of the space shuttle

was good Stan no challenge if you have

any questions please text

so we can use with Richard Evans and as


Saturday and Sunday nights remain five

live Sheikh Hamza Yusuf is my guest this

morning so many calls so if you can try

and keep your questions brief we would

appreciate it Muhammad in Birmingham

very good morning to you sir

the money share is not a question please

it's Stephen a factor you've been on

record saying a Muslim should revive the

international tradition