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Interpreting Language in Islamic Legal Theory

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Event Name: Interpreting Language in Islamic Legal Theory
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 4/6/2019
Transcript Version: 1

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It's good to see everybody, Mashallah.  It's a nice hall; seems better than last year, so I was

gonna do Sinan and mohtadeen but it's

actually I because I had a family

emergency so I I didn't come I was

supposed to be here on the 20th and it's

it's a book that needs time to get the

structure out so what I'm going to do

instead is just some sections from

Amalia delay that which is shared olive

in Bayers book on all sort of cook and

before I do that though I want to

explain who he is to the best of my


and also give you a sense of what he is

attempting to do may Allah give him

tophi up Sharon Donovan baya was born in

an Eastern Province of mauritania

mauritania tradition was called she

appealed in in Islamic geography Moody

Tonya is actually an ancient Roman name

for the whole of North Africa it means

the land of the dark skinned ones tanya

is usually land Britannia right and and

more is is like marisco in Spanish the

the Morrow's are the the dark-skinned

one so the Moors which are often the way

Muslims in Spain are referred to still

to this day interestingly enough they

don't say the Muslims they say the Moors

of Spain which i think is misleading but

moody tanya included morocco and algeria

and it was obviously part of the


had outposts there the Romans conquered

it and you'll see still to this day

Roman ruins in North Africa the North

Africa became Christian there were

really important Christian outpost there

people should know that st. Augustine

who's probably the second most important

person of later Christianity I mean he's

5th century but he and by later I mean

after the the first the the first period

of the Apostles Paul is obviously the

most important after Jesus but Augustine

and Aquinas are probably the two most

important in terms of Catholicism

because Aquinas although it took them a

considerable amount of time before

Aquinas actually became the dominant the

dominant position of the Catholic Church

it was actually the night early 19th

century when when they finally declared

Aquinas as positions the official

positions of the church but st. Agustin

was from algeria and so you had

christians there the Berbers are very

similar to the Irish the Berbers

extremely Free People

they resisted anybody that went into

their lands they fought them they tended

to be somewhat matriarchal so they often

had female leaders and we know kahin

know who was a famous one that fought

against the early Muslim conquest of

North Africa and fought very hard they

were fiercely independent and but

eventually and it was actually through

the hello bait Elise who came fleeing

from persecution in the east after the

failed attempt of Mohammed Neffs ezekiah

to conquer

and establish a Khilafah based on the

elevat-- he was in Medina

I think his reign lasted for about 18

months and Imam addict was alive during

that time he did take me out with him he

waited til that it was considered a

fitna but he actually considered him a

righteous person and he was I mean

episode Zakia was his epithet so he was

somebody who was a pure soul but that

was a failed attempt and so what

happened is the the the mudiad Rhys and

his his mola which is a freed save his


I think it's a rush adore Rasheed I'm

not sure but he they fled and ended up

going to Morocco now Morocco had already

had Muslim incursions Alfa Bonavia had

the famous story when he arrives with

his army to the ocean takes his Spurs

his horse on into the ocean and when the

horse stops as the waves are crashing

the legend says he said well nahi if I

knew there were people beyond this ocean

I would build ships to take this message

of late a lot to those people and then

there was retreat and there was give and

take so the Muslims were it took them a

while to subdue North Africa and because

of the Berber resistance but Maliha


the Berbers accepted him he married from

them he married a woman kenza this is

Moroccan legend now I mean it's not like

it's true but it's it's legendary he

married a Berber woman during the reign

of how do not Rasheed spies were sent to

actually assassinate Maria breeze he was

assassinated but his wife Kinser was

pregnant with Maria Greece the second

who establishes fast the city of Fez and

he establishes it with an amazing door

to make it a city of knowledge until the

end of time and so it really is a city

founded on knowledge and and then in the

mid 3rd century an extraordinary woman

fall Timothy idea created a really the


considered to be the first University in

history I mean there's an argument that

Plato's Academy was a type of university

but Paul Simon Faria founded this mosque

College madrasah that really would

become a minaret of learning in in

Africa and so knowledge spread from

these extraordinary bases in North

Africa and the there's a period of time

Yussef even tesha Fein who was the great

mirabile founder of the Mohabbatein

dynasty the Marathas on his way back

from Hajj he met a scholar in Tunisia

and he told him he lived in this desert

land and they were ignorant people and

he needed a scholar so this scholar and

this is this is a type of sacrifice that

we used to find in our community that

you still find in the in the Christian


you'll meet Christians that literally

will come they have MD degrees and

you'll find them in treating Ebola

patients in in West Africa fortunately

this is not as common in our community

because the sense of sacrifice I think

has diminished greatly but he left a

very nice lifestyle in Tunisia which was

a very civilized beautiful place to go

to a very harsh climate to teach these

people Islam and that begins the marabi

phone and shavelev India is from one of

the tribes there mazuma tribe and it's

difficult kabila tribe is it's it's

problematic for me in some ways tribe is

actually originally what they call

venery noun do you know the memory nouns

there the venery is like the hunting

nouns so you have like a tribe of goats

a murder of crows a murmuration of

starlings an army of frogs a plague of

locusts those type you know those those

are called venery nouns their type of

collective noun so tribe is used

for goats in the English language so

it's I think it's there's a derogatory

aspect it's interesting that we call

African tribes but we call Scottish

clans right so he's from a clan in in

and then tribal is seen as it's really a

derogatory term in the West I think you

know there's a an association with

primitive people and and true primitive

this is one of the most primitive

civilizations in human history the West

it's very sophisticated technology but

if you actually look at the people their

language is totally impoverished and in

that way it's a very primitive Society

all you have to do is look at the the

type of I mean this film the interview

what's the artistic merit of that film

it's unbelievable though this is freedom

of speech its freedom to produce garbage

I mean that's a troubled civilization

when this is held up as art and freedom

of speech I haven't seen the film but I

I know enough about Seth Rogen and James

Franco to know that there is absolutely

nothing of merit in that piece of tripe

to use a word related to tribe

in any case the mazuma clan is from a

group of Mauritania is known as Hawaii

the Sawaya the Mauritania Yusef

advantage Fein basically segregated the

society into functional components so he

was quite brilliant in that way and this

is a even though it's not necessarily

Islamic it's something that happens it

tends to happen organically in societies

you get a scholastic class the mavens

they're called in if you want to use a

term from from Gladwell Thank You

Malcolm Gladwell's book the the mavens

so these are the the intellectual elite

they're called Brahmans in India right

now it's the obviously the technological

mavens are really the dominant ones the

scientists now because we're in the age

of quantity and not quality so what was

traditionally considered early edition

is no longer but he came he used to have

in tishreen classified these different

groups so they they had different

functions so you had the xariah which

were the Brahmin you had the out of

which were the warrior class in in

Hinduism the Castilla class and then you

had the you had the Zen Agha which were

like they took care of the animals but

they were really like the vaisya class

in in the hindu classification which

which Gandhi was from Gandhi was

actually a third class Hindu he was not

a Brahmin very interesting his

solidarity with the other classes so

this the zoo ayah class was they were

committed to learning and literally you

if you were a male from that class it

was a given that you memorized the Quran

until very recently every single person

from that class

memorize the Quran and learned grammar

and sip but a tradition developed in

Mauritania that was very very

interesting because what would happen is

they would get to a certain level of

knowledge and then very often they would

go too fast to study in the pada Wien

this was the common practice and they

they ended up in the last few hundred

years they have produced some of the

most remarkable scholars of late because

they've held on to a pre-modern

tradition of learning that was quite

right widespread in the Muslim world and

is no longer in fact it's almost

non-existent now in most of the Muslim

world and so the Muslim community is no

longer producing the type of scholars

that they used to produce now undeniably

there's an ossification that occurred in

this madrasa all of the Muslim schools

unfortunately fell into a type of a type

of just dereliction they were no longer

producing scholars that were really

engaging the the world as it was

changing one of the Mauritania scholars

told me that we're like the people of

the cave we went to sleep for 300 years

we woke up and the world was different

and but what they did do was they

preserved in the desert of the Sahara a

tradition that was very very functional

in the desert of the Sahara it worked

very well for them they had their Foca

they had their Muftis they had their

judges chef development they his father


Michael was what he was considered the

greatest scholar of Mauritania of his

time when they met in the nineteen when

they got their independence in the early

sixties all of the scholars of

Mauritania convened in Norwalk shop and

they put chef chef Abdullah bimbe his

father as the Imam to lead them in

prayer and this is some really really

truly great scholars so he was

recognized even at that time he was a


in the eastern province and from a very

very notable clan the mazuma clan

they're noted for their humility in

knowledge and in learning and they're

noted also for their mastery of the

Quran but what what's interesting about

chef abdullah bin baby because in the in

the eastern part of Mauritania they tend

to focus on Quran and fill and in the

western part they tend to focus on the

Arabic language

chef Abdullah's father his own father

was a master of the Arabic language and

so he focused on in his early education

on learning language and one of the

important things about our civilization

is it was a civilization entirely

predicated on knowledge and this is

something that the great Jewish

orientalist in his book knowledge

triumphant Franz Rosenthal writes that

as far as he could tell and he's a

world-class historian as far as he could

tell he could find no other civilization

whose entire reason for existence was

the pursuit of the the development of

and then transmission of knowledge he

said the Islamic civilization was a

society that was completely obsessed

with knowledge in all of its forms and

but at the center of that civilization

was language and the mastery of language

more important than numbers

was the language and in particular what

we would call in the West the Trivium

although it's Trivium I think is a

misnomer in that it's not really three

the the Trivium indicates three Sciences

the Arabs called them asana at the

ffedith the three arts asana is like a

craft and and that was originally what

the Trivium was seen as but the first

one grammar has many dimensions so it

has literature I was looking there's a

poem that gives the number of Sciences

that you have to learn twelve language

Sciences but although there's over 30 in

the Islamic tradition one of them

emanuelle that is almost gone they still


in Turkey but I haven't seen it taught

anywhere else and it's a very

interesting science it's unique to its

although Glavine and eg really developed

it out of rhetoric and logic and it's

the science that enables you to

determine quickly the context of a word

it's it's its position in a sentence in

any case one of the sciences was Mahara

and and there was a discussion on on the

internet like what did Muhammad I mean

and nobody knew what it meant it was

very interesting like all these Arabs

writing you know what cinnamon

Mahabharat and then somebody said oh

it's lecturing because that's a modern

term Mohammed and then somebody says no

I think it's something else I mean I

don't know you know none of them knew

what it is Maha Dada

was what we what et Hirsch who some of

you might know he wrote The Dictionary

of cultural literacy and emphasized the

fact that you needed to be culturally

literate in order to to become somebody

who could who could understand the

society then read books understand we we

tend to forget how complicated literacy

is how sophisticated it is when we're

speaking we're using words and that's

why there's so much breakdown of

communication now because we're all

saying things but understanding

different things from the same words

that we're using and this is a problem

because we no longer have a unified

knowledge domain knowledge was the

knowledge that was necessary to

understand your culture or civilization

so for instance those of you who are

born in Canada or in the United States

even though your parents migrated here

there are things that you know about

this society that they'll never get

because they didn't get the domain

knowledge it's as simple as that

there's metaphors that they won't

understand there's linguistic idioms

that they'll never get or never

understand in the same way that if you

go up in Britain if you grow up even and

then we have micro culture so if you if

you grew up speaking Ebonics there's a

whole aspect

of that culture that you will not get if

if you're outside of that culture and

the same is true even within the the

dominant soon-to-be minority culture in

America of what's called the white

anglo-saxon Protestant culture that is a

culture but there were other cultures

that were minority cultures that are now

considered white that weren't considered

white so for instance Italian Americans

they have a whole set of references that

somebody outside of their culture won't

understand if you grow up in an Irish

neighborhood in Boston there's a whole

set of cultural references that people

outside of that will not understand and

these are the micro cultures but then

you have a macro culture and this is

what enables multicultural societies to

function effectively when we have common

ground and we can understand each other

and this is education this is not

learning a culture as a master culture

so there's people that argue that this

is just the dominant culture forcing or

imposing itself on minorities no there's

a reason why it's dominant because it

has certain tools that those cultures

that are not d