Interview with Tim Winters (1995)

Transcript Details

Event Name: Interview with Tim Winters (1995)
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 7/15/2019 9:00:14 PM
Transcript Version: 2

Transcript Text


because in the quran when a law says leo

anna muhammad kita bow and hikmah that

it wasn't simply the book that was to be

taught but also the wisdom you know in

order to implement the book contextually

because this is something a lot of

muslims especially our youth don't

understand is that a great deal of our

literature is contextual and the muslims

understood this long before Wittgenstein

and you know linguistics theories of

contextual you know the contextual

nature of language that they had these

many of the hadees are contextual and

you can't simply take a hadith and apply

it universally that it was a whole

science of as feble ruled as a rule the

exam be dropped from the curricular of a

lot of Islamic institutions I've noticed

around a very peculiar development but

it's essential to the understanding of

the Hadees we have young people in this

country now as you don't no doubt in

there who think that they can derive the

fit directly from that rather appalling

translation into English it's a high

helper for a variety of a Quran in

English and same book volume in English

then if you want the answer or fact I'll

just open it to the relevant page pull

out a hadith and there you go was of

course anybody who tried to do that in a

traditional Islamic state would

immediately be hauled before the call D

and giving twenty lashes for his cheek

exam yeah this is how it's always

developing that they think that that is

that's the correct procedure

but do you think there's any hope I mean

what would be your advice if you were

confronted by say keen intelligent

eighteen-year-olds Muslim in England who

wanted to study the Deen what would be

your answer

well this happens to me a lot is that I

really people come to me because and

really my education I think you know you

would certainly admit this as well is

that really you know our education have

been extremely limited but because we've

had some you know background in an age

where many people have had none or even

less that it might appear impressive to

some people but I feel very impoverished

in terms of my own Islamic education one

of the things about hatch says is about

knowledge --is that not only do you have

to have a sound teacher but you you have

to have a long life to is it's almost

one of the prerequisites for acquiring

the knowledge of this teaching because

it's so vast but people do come to me

and and say I really want to study it's

not what should I do for us I think when

we became Muslim because we can we became Muslim similar you became listen what year 79 said okay I became Muslim 77 and and I think we hit the you know just the beginning of this you know the Iranian Revolution was just happening in


there was a just a lot of changes

transformations in the Muslim world it

was very easy to live in many Muslim

countries as a Muslim there was no

threat about going to the Masjid having

a beard was not problematic studying

these type things unfortunately because

of the politicized

atmosphere that exists now in the Muslim

Ummah and really what's happening

there's kind of like the 60s in America

during the Vietnam War where

universities ended up being kind of a

war zones ideological war zones and this

is what's happening in the Muslim world

and unfortunately unlike America where

you have although it's you know it's

it's certainly got its own internal

structures that are rather totalitarian

but nonetheless you know Kent State is

one of the few examples where somebody

was actually shot whereas in the Muslim

world we're dealing with some very

ruthless tyrants and dictators and

secret polices and these type of things

that deal with people with impunity and

really are too concerned about what the

what the public opinion might be about

how they deal with dissidents and these

type of things and the other thing it's

unfortunate that I think that students

become dissidents because I think

although it's absolutely important to

have our own moral and ethical

perspectives and understandings for a

student who set out on the path of

knowledge they have to commit a good

amount of time to that and the

abstractions of the world which have

always existed you know we can become we

can become

Cara in in the world I mean you know the

the Muslims have been for over a hundred

years now in massive turmoil political

turmoil and it's very easy to get caught

up in these things as youth but if

somebody's actually committed to

learning something to be beneficial to

the you know to the OMA this is what

we're talking about so unfortunate I

think in the Muslim world right now in

most of the countries it's a very cool

Desai's atmosphere I think there are

still some shifts like you mentioned

that one of the frightening things that

they are getting old when I was in

Mauritania 10 years ago studying I was

in a town there called ghetto which is

well known a traditional town of

dominant tribe there's called tisha

canít and the very scholastic and

spiritual tribe when I was there there

was about 11 or 12 brilliant AHA Matic

yellow man that had mattresses when I

went back I think nine had died and you

could see the results of their deaths in

the village which was one of the most

impressive places I've ever been to

going back there last year I was really

shocked to see the disintegration that

had taken place in just such a short

time young people listening to Michael

Jackson and I mean all of this madness

going into a place that had really been

preserved so you know I'm taking a long

time to get to this but I really think

one of the most important things for us

at this stage is to develop institutions

within the West we this is an imperative

that really we don't have an alternative

we must develop I think there's now an

experiment going on in France right now

there's kind of an attempt to to do this

I don't know how much about it and I

don't know how successful it's going

right now but we there is a modicum of

freedom in in the West that that enables

people to to set up institutions and

study and

these things unfortunately in the vast

majority of the Muslim world that that

freedom does not exist and and Islam and

particularly the quote-unquote Islamists

are a major threat to a perceived threat

I think a perceived threat to the

thought the interests of the West as

well as the the governments in the East

and North Africa in these places so for

an 18 year old right now

I think what I would if there unmarried

and if they if they're able to then I

think there are still some places where

they can go if they're committed to at

least six years I think anything less

would be I mean there might be some

benefit in going less not learning

Arabic but I think we need people that

really are committed and and I want to

emphasize at this point I really don't

think I think you probably agree with


the goal of Islam is not to become an

atom quote-unquote it's certainly a

wonderful achievement and one of the

higher callings if not the highest of

all callings but many of the limo were

not many of the Sahaba for instance they

were not that remember they were not

scholars but they were people that what

they did know they acted wholeheartedly

on it they had absolute sincerity

conative in what need was not a scholar

he was a warrior that that was the gift

that that Allah gave that man and it

manifested I will daughter was a an

aesthetic and a deeply spiritual Muslim

who was an inspiration to anyone who saw

him and that was that was what he did

Abu Huraira was was a scholar he was a

high D scholar this was where it wasn't

the Mufti law saying he was not a yeah

whatever is not one of the the Muftis um

even my soul was a Mufti as well as

being a scholar and a judge on what I've

been a cop I was a judge he was a

brilliant scholar SATA Heine is of

course one of the greatest you know the

shining monuments of intellectual

achievement historically the first

intellectual of Islam as he's been

called cuz he was just such a profound

thinker you know as well as being a

deeply spiritual person

Aisha was a great scholar she was not

only a scholar in Islamic matters but

she was a scholar in Jahi poetry she

knew the lineages just a remarkable


and a remarkable human being you know

setting aside her femininity she's just

she's a remarkable human being anyone

male or female that achieved what she

would achieve would be you know honored equal you


yes that's interesting isn't it I mean

we tend to in retrospect assume that

Islamic scholarship has always been very

firmly to preserve the command but right

at the beginning of this time it wasn't

really not a present and even if you

read some of the other part works these

vast biographical dictionary of medieval

scholars the scholars of hadith you'll

find that quite a few of the respected

hadith scholars of Muslim Middle Ages

that we can use that for anyway they

were teaching publicly you think of them

Kareena my was here for instance the

great railway at Versailles handlebar a

all the great chains of transmission for

samples I tend to go through whether you

think of people like Citizen was

adopting eighth century Cairo who knows

the truly great for the heart into his

consultant scare away the bottom at that

time who example to sit at her feet to

ask what that was but more recently that

seems to have died away so do think that

this obligation to study the online

method is long would you so open for any

people stick

I feel planes to our argument in this

one the hadith that's related he'd been

major related by happy I believe relate

said that seeking knowledge and there

the it's palpable and it has the you

know the instrument of definition

definitive article there means sacred

knowledge which would include key

Fayette you know the collective duties

as well but but the primary that I mean

is what really is being said there is


knowledge is which are sacred knowledge

is not the worldly knowledge is which

are key fire the Hadees says every man

and Muslim or muslima

and the prophets all I said I'm rarely

uses the male and the female together

unless it's an emphasis in order that

it's not misunderstood and that's one of

the times when he did stress the female

component because one it was very alien

to their culture for women to be

educated all modeled Ilana's recorded as

saying you know that we considered women

similar to animals

prior to Islam this was the Arab

perspective and there was just radical

transformation and I think it's really

fascinating one of the Western

criticisms of Islam is the idea of two

witnesses two females to one male yeah

and what I find really fascinating about

that is that in Hadi if if the woman

fulfills the five qualifications of a

sahih hadith if she is a Baba

you know meticulous in her narration

idea that if he's just in her actions

that there's no shavoo there's no

weaknesses in in in her transmission and

is snod goes all the way back to the

Prophet that she won more Haditha is

accepted completely and certainly

witnessing about a hadith is that is the

highest of all in Islam and so I think

you know that's a very clear indication

that the two Diwan has nothing to do

with a woman's capacity it's more really

just a social allowing for a and it's

really an excuse for women not to have

to get involved in Affairs that would

preoccupy them for more important

Affairs and I don't really know anybody

that wants to bear witness against

people I certainly don't I mean it's not

I would I've always find that odd it's

kind of people say you don't see people

lining up to to be on jury duty or you

know so yeah absolutely women one of I

think probably one of the greatest

causes for the state of our Ummah now is

the fact that our women are deplorable

uneducated and they raised the children

in Mauritania which although it's

certainly not an example for economic

flourish Minh it's still a place where

Islam is practiced on a on a large scale

one of the things that that I noticed in

the children

and they've been healthiest children I

have seen in the Muslim world is that

the many of the women are scholars now

one of the things that's fascinated me

was that the women particularly

emphasized Syrah they learn Syrah and

and then what they do is transmit these

story instead of like reading ridiculous

bedtime stories and the children they

tell the stories of the the Sahaba of

the Aldea you know the great scholars

and they inculcate this in their

children and there are also oftentimes

scholars of the DRH they know like the

neck and all the lineages and the names

of the Sahaba and who they were related

is fascinating so we absolutely need

female scholars

I mean Wesen what dude was a scholar in

African American scholar and in America

and she

you know she talks about the need for

the the feminine perspective being

presented and I think there's there is a

validity to that to that critique

although I don't agree with like faulty

memory she's whole ideas the problem

isn't it everybody assumes they're

jumping on the feminist bandwagon this

is a Trojan horse of westernization

relation with Muslim family after nature

but clearly on the basis of Anderson and

at the practice of the early Muslims it

just supposed to be a model there's so

many examples I think this accident

women who didn't just stay at home spin

but they were fighting with the mayor

you're doing all these things yeah and I

said I should think of what 15% of the

great hadith of Islam have women as key

figures in this nuts all right guys is

one of the seven that of the Sahaba that

relate over 2,000 abuse in in Tulsa has

one of them set up as another green for

do so absolutely it's imperative you

know if I mean if we're going to

reinvigorate this omma with any

just with with any anything what we have

to have women that are going to I mean

you know when I fought him a metal

neecy's argument you know is that no

where are the women in Islam I mean to

me I think that the Matic is is not

possible without the mother of Malik I

mean you know the Omaha to reach out you

know the mothers of man you know these

were great women absent and and and they

produced these men because we know the

importance of the first seven years

which is almost solely the the mother's

domain in in all cultures but it wasn't

just that was that they rules out

teaching and the motherless they were in

their mattresses absolutely look at even

our circus history of Damascus he names

about a thousand of his teachers and

eighty of them were women that's already

what the sixth century where is that in

do is there any equivalent that in in

European and Christianity absolutely not

I mean Julian of Norwich or something

they were so excluded from from life so

well I think they didn't think that they

actually had intellects for years I

think it was the seventh century they

had to cancel the Poitier and they

decided to amend it might we have souls

thanks they were sort of like household

goods and that is you get a washing

machine but in those days you'd have had

a wash or a woman and they had no more

souls and did a washing machine

I mean it is but I think China is

probably the only other place where they

did have female scholastics I don't know

about India in the the pre-islamic

Indian culture but I know China did have

some you know some female scholars but

certainly I know even high John when he

went to Damascus to study hadith he had

four teachers and three were women and

in the South character how father I

think there's about 500 women mentioned

from the yeah there seems to be

particularly Finity to hadith literature

it's interesting that isn't it yeah one

of the things interesting to me is that

there's not a lot of literature books

written by by women which i think is

interesting and i think one of the

reasons for that in Mauritania for

instance there are many women that are

actually scholars that do not write and

actually literally do not write they

their husbands would write the things

that they memorized on the door and

things like that like the the wife of my

teacher who masha'Allah she's a puppy

and in the Maliki v and she's a new

grammar very well and had memorized

two-thirds of the Quran

and we're still studying at about the

age of 65 still memorizing things but

she she did not write and she literally

never learned how to write but read a

sentence to someone as well isn't it

right so so what would we say to this 18

year old we didn't really deal with that

you've got a bit into this extraordinary

feat of memorization that seems to be

scenic or non-traditional scholar and a

lot of young people say nowadays

humorous book and having been brought up

with that faculty activated in Brian can I really study Islam seriously if I simply don't have the ability just to memorize hundreds of pages of texts I think what this is a really interesting point that's fascinated me and I've done a lot of reading about Western research into memories and I've even read like Cicero's you know de memoriam and some

of the Greek like Aristotle has a short treatise on memory and the idea of the loci and the the memory techniques that were used mnemonics and acronyms and these things certainly the Renaissance produced some extraordinary phenomenal examples of the human capacity to

memorize one of the things that we are

not taught in the West is techniques of

memorization and this was something that

I learned from the more Italians mnemonics is used very often in Mauritania just to give two very quick examples it's certainly used in in touch weed out of a lot of debt you know that's everybody learns that but for instance in memorization of Quran there's a lot of mutashabihat ayat and and there's mnemonic devices used for that in for instance the woman them yeah come demands that a lot without coming with a caveat on what I learned

was Khalifa is away goes catheter and

body moon fancy appointment so you learn

a new modoch to recognize you know the

sequential and another one in Serato

stuff would be falcon which would be

faster homebody moon capital machine

alone and these are ways of learning how

to memorize that we're not taught in in

western unfortunately and a lot of it

there's not a whole lot of emphasis put

on memory met you know memories feats of

memory are really quaint and oftentimes

their carnival acts you know are there

you know on television news we have this

guy David Letterman in America it'd be

kind of like something he'd have on you

know his television program is this kind

of thing that people are gonna you know

laugh at or marvel at or something but

there's not this idea of learning the

the knowledge of the past that it needs

fierceful daughter Latino today I mean

the Quran says it's in the breasts of

those who have been given knowledge and

part of that is literally memorizing and

one of the things I think we have to do

and you know we're both fathers so I

think it's something that you've

obviously thought about is you know the

what what's literally taking place in

the brain within the first eleven years

actually it's now in

in Neurology they found that 11 years is

when all of the myelination is taking

place and at the age of 11 it literally

stops so and memory is one of the most

potent ways of developing of developing

fields within the brain itself and

basically at 11 we have what we're going

to use for the rest of our life that's

what's been developed and I think memory

prior to 11 is absolutely essential the

the main emphasis I'm going to talk

about this matter on today I would talk

about this but the main emphasis for

children should be memorization there

should be very little emphasis on fun

actual ratiocination and spatial

reasoning and things like this I mean

even Piaget and in their own Western

educational theorists have have really

proven a lot of this stuff and this was

the traditional approach that you know

you memorize when you're young and then

you learn the the what they call the

awfully adds you know the the

intellectual sciences of dialectic

subjective and month of logic and these

type things learning how to think and

and and then you begin the process of

after about fifteen or sixteen is to

learn the tools whereby you can actually

begin to reflect and think deeply on on

much of what you've memorized in terms

of a 18 year old who's coming in who has

not memorized sometimes almost nothing

both in English and in other languages I

think that they we need to literally

learn the techniques for increasing our

memory I mean I I believe and even

though that there's kind of it's a moot

point amongst Western theorists whether

or not

memory can be developed and also why

some people have brilliant memories and

other people don't

certainly in Mauritania there are

families that are known to have very

powerful memories and they actually

believe that there is a inherited aspect

to memory and I think that's that's true

but there's also another aspect which

I've always had kind of maintained my

hope is what the the Muslims of Trisha

he called them feta which is an opening

and we know now I think in a lot of the

the brain research is that that we do

actually memorize everything we see in

here and but it's locked away in the

subconscious and we really don't have a

direct access to it it's what they call


in arabic estaba the ability to to

retrieve that and retrieve to bring

present what is known and even Tamiya

was was notorious for this ability he

had this phenomenal a phenomenal ability

to use the Quran as a Hodja and of proof

and and I've seen this where some

scholars have their capacity to do that

is not as great they kind of go through

this scanning where you ask them and I

know don't they'll kind of go table

discussed eternity exactly it's like a

cd-rom there you know there's it's not

as fast as others so you've got to

eighty-six memories 386 and 486 and so I

think that's that's one aspect but I

don't think we should despair of it I

found personally although I really don't

consider my memory to be that great but

I found personally that there is a

facilitation that that Allah gives to

his Deen I have found memorizing for

instance do eyes of the Prophet had

these verses of the part on that trying

to memorize comparable treaties or

amounts of words in my own language is

extremely difficult and I don't know it

has to do with the cadences of the

Arabic but I personally really do

believe that there is a divine

facilitation and certainly the most

important element there is is intention

is pure intention so I think that people

can still do that even at the age of

eighteen nineteen twenty

I personally have known people that have

memorized the entire Quran as adults and

very worthy and honorable about a task

to set out and to accomplish Nia is the

key thing I have the right Nia the door

somehow swing open in front of you and

if you don't but do you have the best

academic institutions behind you

you simply don't make any query Alvis

Ida Hina's begins the book with


book of intention the are buying of

Immelman Olli begins with the hadith of

intention Sahih Muslim begins his office

with I mean Nia is that's ultimately

what it is

I think that one of the beautiful Hadees

is whoever learns knowledge to impress

the scholars or to amaze the ignorant

people that you know there's no he just

take a seat in the Hellfire there's no

that's not why why we should be seeking

this knowledge you know it should be

part of it is really to make the

intention to preserve to become a

preserver of the Deen of Allah because

the Deen of Allah is not preserved in

books and it never has been is preserved

by human beings that are willing to to

really struggle and and struggle against

their own selves I mean it's easy to

come home and turn on the TV and sit sit

back and watch and it's I think it's

worse here because BBC programming is is

more sophisticated and more interesting

so you can convince yourself you're kind

of learning something but but it's very

easy just to to sit back and be


by the age but it's like Neil postman's

book I'm using ourselves to death you

know that that's ultimately what this

culture does it just amuses its populace

to death and we're talking upon that

life wasn't created for an amusement or

a pastime and you know ultimately we're

we should be people of I say the Muslims

should be a Mujahid wished ahead you

know somebody who's a man of and on a

woman of jihad and a she had and jihad

is both struggling against the cell but

also against social injustice is outside

of us and then being a mistake of

somebody that is has internalized the

struggle I mean you know the eighth form

in Arabic is a reflexive you know it's

to internalize the first form so if she

had is literally internalizing the


and that's what what our youth needs to

do and also I think it's absolutely

essential for it for the youth to be

aware of is that that youth and it's

something we cannot appreciate at 20 but

we can appreciate say at 35 and and I

think hopefully at 50 it'll be even more

clear but one of the things at 20 that's

very difficult to appreciate is that

people that are older than us have been

through certain stages and and we have

to understand this contextual nature of

life itself

that that a lot of our feelings at the

age of 20 have to do with with the age

that we're in and to be a man or woman

of depth and substance we have to have

the continuum constantly in perspective

the Muslim is somebody that recognizes

that this is a journey from the cradle

to the grave and we will go through

stages but ultimately the goal should

always be present and therefore to get

caught up in fleeting matters about

youth is is is very dangerous without

the guidance of and wisdom of of age

right I mean the she'll were not called

she'll for nothing shaf means old man

and shaka means old woman and people can

be shaped before their time but it means

they have the wisdom of old age and it

might happen at the age of 25 or in

Malik's case at the age of 17 when he

was giving fatwa and teaching in Medina

so the idea of having the depth of old

age and recognizing the Prophet SAW

Dyson articulated it beautifully in the

hadith leizerman a man named you after

Kabir Ana when I am silviana he's not

from us who doesn't respect the age and

the wisdom that comes with age and also

who does not have compassion

and mercy on the youth and recognize

that a lot of the energy that the youth

have a lot of the what they want to do I

mean I think for instance there's in

England I've come across there's some

politicized groups of youth that are

getting very politically active and I

think there's a lot of sincere energy

there that these people are struggling

with in justices with disenfranchisement

with with you know the conditions of the

Omo but how we need guidance you know it

can't simply be that we that our young

people become you know really anarchist

in a sense of just going out and and

tearing down as opposed to building

because it like so fond of that I mean

said I've never seen a revolutionary

build what he could destroy and and I

think that there's a lot of wisdom in

there yes it's interesting with sending

out these groups which claim to adhere

to the way of the Salaf actually seem

completely oblivious to the fact that

the one thing the Sun up didn't do was

to go out into public places and jump up

and down wave flags and shout allah

akbar jihad jihad looked at the

situation and figured out what was the

most effective way to deal with it and

if it meant they became scholars and

they spent 20 years doing nothing if

that's what they did rolled up their

sleeves and they did it well if they

thought what it means rather than

jumping around in Trafalgar Square and

shouting about the Western conspiracy in

Bosnia we actually go to Bosnia and

study do some they study how to fight a

war or dig holes for the Mujahideen we

get for dinner sore you know heal the

sick yeah absolutely

I'm sure that's an excellent point but

just to jump up and down into the shaft

once prostration doesn't dissipate

frustration you might remember

thoroughly but you go back home enduring

the same problem you might have seen the

hadith as related by Bob irani that LP

memory the hadith from Morocco mentions

in one of his books that one of the

signs of the end of time is the prophet

Elijah Remus refer to said well you

prunella puzzle see AHA that the the

Kazu that has well with just and

shouting and and really it's it's it's a

pathetic statement you know about our

condition because ultimately I think

over thirty years or even longer of

western demonstration because it's a

Western methodology like like you said

it's not it's not from our min hats the

profit in fact he did not allow his

companions to go to the Kaaba and shout

he told them not to do it we and we have

that recorded that some of the Sahaba

wanted to go to the Kaaba and announce

declare their Islam amidst the


and the father's o lies him did not

allow that and we also know one of the

things in in his descriptions that all

that health mentions is mentioned in the

hadith let me clean Sahaba he never

shouted and and also on the jihad he

used to tell them to lower their voices

doing dhikr on the jihad saying that how

that would apply to a lab in there and

he used to say unto me that led to their

owner awesome you're not calling a deaf

Lord you don't need to raise your voices

so who are we shouting at are we

shouting at the kuffar because Allah has

told us that

that they're not they're not concerned

about us and why should they be I mean

what where have you seen the Muslims

concerned about the social problems of

the Kefauver why should they be

concerned I mean really when we think

about it should we find fault in them

for not helping the situation in Bosnia

or if they're doing things to exacerbate

it are they at fault because as far as a

lot of them are concerned it's not to

their interests to have a Muslim

presence in Europe so I think really

ultimately they're just getting on with

business you know they're doing what

they perceive to be the best thing for

them to do and I think we have to be

really careful about getting caught up

and all that because Allah tells us

constantly to rectify ourselves you know

to to deal with you know instead of

constantly looking at the the the

non-muslims look at the Muslims you know

let's I mean let's stop blaming them

they're only doing what what what what

they understand to be the best thing for

them to do I think a lot of the fault is

that we haven't taken them the message

and and and the sad thing about it is

how can you take a message that you

don't have you know like the air safe up

into a shame there'll be you know

somebody it doesn't have something can't

get it so really yeah we I think we need

to this is a time where and and the

jihad that are taking place in Bosnia

Kashmir and these places Palestine these

are valid jihads that no Muslim can can

say otherwise but at the same time I

think in other places where we're not

directly engaged in combat with with

people that are out to destroy us or to

subjugate us I think it's very important