ISNA 2012: One Nation Under God: Striving for the Common Good

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Event Name: ISNA 2012: One Nation Under God: Striving for the Common Good
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 4/25/2022 9:34:50 AM
Transcript Version: 2

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y mind it would say a few words about this but we are presenting as ISNA
this is my stuff let my turn my turn presented to Sheikh Hamza Yusuf by the
Islamic Society of North America this award is presented to you in recognition of your untiring efforts of being an
inspiration for individuals seeking knowledge and for the cause in Islamic
in North America and society at large Sheikh Hamza Yusuf
Salam alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato what was missing from my speech earlier
that Ethne is a platform that bring different muslim scholars diversity of
muslim scholars to address the muslim community and that really
representations of how diverse we are and therefore it is here in islam who
exchanged ideas we listen to different point of views of various Muslim
scholars and I would like to thank chef Hamza Yusuf were being coming into the East and now for a while and he said the
award be given to the people who are they when they way out meaning that people are retiring no that's not true
we have a war today to come under strong she's gonna have years and years of
giving God willing inshallah and the a
world be given sure Hamza is also appreciating his great work I would like
us to tell you that the Zaytuna College have bought the building they have a
place now
and they have address and therefore we like to ask the last of Chanukah Allah
to preserve the blessing upon this great project and I would like you to continue by the way to be generous and give to
asana tonight before you leave I give you a share from the user harmonica solo
to a ceremony say them come in Vienna and he was like he was Adam Testament Kira what I heard over our water in a
villa had a lead all the hundred I praise Allah subhana WA Ta'ala thanking
him and asked philosopher Hanna with the onion shallot to bless all of you and
bless this institution moving into its 50th year I'm slightly older than ISNA
and inshallah I hope that we all
recognize the importance of this institution because I mentioned earlier today at a brunch that we did for say
tuna that I consider isne and I don't say this to flatter is no or to
exaggerate because in reality all of us are part of this institution there's isne is a reification of
something that's really a group of human beings the single most important thing
about this institution is that it is an
institution that represents perpetuity of Islam in the United States and I think it can't be underestimated the
importance of perpetuity the importance of longevity the importance of the idea that something comes into existence and
is sustained and maintained over generations because that type of constitute continuity is is what enables
this torch to be passed to the next generation without institution building we don't have civilization
and we also don't have religion religions are founded by great human
beings that we believe these true religions were founded by prophets from God but these prophets always have
around them extraordinary human beings and if you study the life of the prophet mohammed salah salem the people around
him are some of the most stunning characters in in any human narrative he
was blessed with a group of people lost behind with a disease who under the eye yet there could be no sorry he weapon ammo meaning he has given you help from
god and also these believers that are with you and ha spoke a lot woman in tobacco men and women in god will
suffice you and according to one tafseer one commentary on this ayah and it will
suffice you those who you have with you these people they were great builders
the Sahaba were extraordinary builders I have a friend of mine who's a professor
in Saudi Arabia dr. abdullah avi who is
a scholar of islamic sciences but he's also a world-class city planner recognized in the united states for his
work with gps and city planning who got his doctorate from portland university
he actually did a study on the building of the trench in medina and shows that
this is one of the most extraordinary events in terms of pure planning the
engineering of it the prophet saw a cinema was a profound planner he was not
somebody that did things ad hoc he was always in a deep state of awareness of
his lord but he was always somebody who understood the US map the means that god
has given us to do things in this life and if you read imam muda kotani's
extraordinary work to achieve an idea showing you that the prophet elisha them created institutions in medina a lot of
people don't know were actually close to 40 mosques in the city of Medina during the lifetime of
the Prophet I am people think that only he founded his big mosque and everybody
went no he put a mosque in every neighborhood because he wanted people to have community and this is why having
many messages is actually a positive thing it's not a negative thing messages were meant to be in a height in a
neighborhood so that people could come together worship together he even had people making messages in their own
homes and so people had a room that was used for Avada in their houses this is
the way of making the sacred permeate the mundane and so the Prophet slice em
was a great builder of institutions and this is something that's really
important our community developed some of the greatest endowments in human history now we're here in the United
States as a community and the theme is
one nation under God how does that relate to Muslims I want to look at it
from two aspects the first is that America has always been a dialectic it's
it's a country that has always had two forces a force that's reactionary and
dark and then a force that is progressive and light and this is something that's consistent throughout
American history one of the best ways to study American history is to study the Constitution and the amendments and how
those those amendments came about because you will see such an interesting debate that's constantly going on in the
United States of America the John Adams when he was elected president one of the
first things that he did a revolutionary is he put into legislation this idea of
aliens and Sedition Acts and this was that anybody that criticized the
government or the president was arrested there was somebody who made a newspaperman made a remark he'd been a
congressman as well he made a remark that at the inauguration he hoped that the when misfire and hit the president he
was arrested put into jail for making that remark that was repealed by people
that recognize that if you were going to be true to the Bill of Rights the idea of freedom of speech that that was
unacceptable and people should be allowed to make such remarks again
President Wilson during his administration you had a Sedition Act there were far more people arrested
during that time anybody that criticized the government people were arrested for
saying that World War one was a capitalist conspiracy they were literally arrested and taken to jail so
it's important to remember that this is not new what's happening the idea of the Patriot Act the idea of these problems
that are happening in America this is part of the story of America but it's the fighting back in a civil
way that is what makes America move forward in the Federalist Papers in in
paper 63 one of the arguments that's made is that the Senate is an important
organization in order to prevent the American people from exercising their
temporary delusions that people as a people they have temporary delusions so
one of the temporary delusions that we have today is that the Muslims in America are a threat to the security of
the United States of America as a community one of the delusions in the United States today is that somehow
Sharia law is a threat to the United States of America we have states that are passing anti sheti outlaws they
don't even know what the Sharia is and they're passing anti Sharia laws in legislation 42 million dollars has been
spent according to a study on the Islamophobic literature and the films
and all of these things that have been produced 42 million dollars and this is
what officially that we know about there's a lot of money that we don't know about so when we think of the
United States we have to think of ourselves as part of a story the Muslims are part of a
narrative and we have been part of this narrative from the beginning the Muslims
were here from the very start there's evidence that we were probably here before Columbus and that's a debatable
point but we know that the Muslims have been here for over 500 years that
there's ample historical evidence to prove that we have cities in the United
States that were named by Muslims there are several cities in the United States that were named Medina we have a city in
Indiana that's called Muhammad the city of Muhammad Illinois Monmouth Illinois we
have a city in Indiana called Medina then many of the graveyards have a hand
with a finger pointing up and they have Muslim names on on this and these are Turkish and Arabs that that came to that
city and founded that city and named it after Medina we have a city that was first named Mecca and then they changed
it to Medina so the Muslims have been here and they have been part of this we
know in this city there was a beautiful Muslim that was painted by the great painter Pele who also painted George
Washington yarrow Mahmoud this man was
noted for he lived in Georgetown he was a freed slave he was a food Annie he was
brought to America as a slave he was a Fulani and he was noted for chanting his Islamic prayers while walking around
Georgetown and he was such a pleasant person that Peale who originally planned
to paint him in a day ended up spending several days with him this is part of American history as Lomb is the only
religion that was honored if you go to the Library of Congress it is the only religion that is that is mentioned in if
you look at the the dome above the Library of Congress in the main hall you will see Islam all of the other names
are names of civilizations but Islam was singled out because of its contribution
to human knowledge and this is really important for us to remember so we have been part of this story muslims fought
in all of these wars in American history fought for this country Muslims died in
World War two for this country in World War one in the Civil War there were Muslims fighting so this idea somehow
that we're a lien is a completely unacceptable idea the second thing I want to emphasize about it is that the
Muslims many Muslims many of you are immigrants in the post 1965 act of
immigration which enabled people to come to this country from countries that traditionally it was very unusual there
were always people from these countries and Jefferson actually mentions muhammadans and Hindus as people that he
wanted to feel safe living in America so he mentioned this in his letters about his Virginia act of toleration so it's
very important to remember that America is a land of immigrants there is ample
evidence even that the original inhabitant of a miracle aboriginals came from Asia over the the Bering and the
Navajo people their genetic disposition is identical to people's in Mongolia so
everybody that has come to America has come as an immigrant even the original inhabitants of the new world so it's
very important for us to remember that America is a story of immigrants and that you are part of that story those of
you who have come late are still part of that story and you cannot see yourselves as somehow as foreigners America has
always had accents always there's no point in American history that there
were not Americans with accents when Tammany Hall was at the height of its power many of those politicians spoke
and gave their speeches with Irish brogue and they were part of America
they were embraced sometimes and other times they were not they were fought and they had to Duke it out on the streets
until they found their place at the table African Americans this is one of the
both tragic and great stories of this country is the African American story and the Muslims are part of that story
because we know that there's ample evidence that one fit out of the Muslim population were probably from Muslim
background when malcom-x made that statement James Michener who was a an author of
historical novels he wrote Shogun and some other novels James Michener said that's complete fantasy well Alex Haley
who wrote roots with Malcolm X was disturbed by that just the dismissive he
wrote an article Michener saying that this was complete rubbish Alex Haley was upset by that and so what he decided to
do was actually study the issue and so he decided to study his own family and
he wrote a book called roots and this book became a television series that had
a massive impact on the American psyche in the nineteen set early 70s what he
found out was that his own ancestor and this is really a type of providential
act as far as I'm concerned his own ancestor Kunta Kinte was a Muslim so
Jane so Alex Haley who wrote who co-wrote with Malcolm X The Autobiography of Malcolm X he was the
one that took all the interviews and he put this piece together when he studied his own lineage he found out that he was
from a Muslim family in Senegambia this is an extraordinary aspect so we have
many many people here who are African African Americans who have Muslim
ancestors flowing in their blood many of the Irish Americans have African American blood also so my point is don't
see yourselves as aliens here alien acts are always thrown out in in American
history America has temporary delusions but it's the people that call them back to their sanity those are the voices
that we have to listen to and those are also the voices that we have to project from our own community and so this is
the second aspect of this and then I want to conclude with with something
about our own community that's deeply troubling to me the the Muslims in this
country have to become an active voice for good America it's called one nation
we used to say one nation indivisible one nation under God indivisible with
liberty and justice for all in many ways we've become many nations divided under
godlessness with licentiousness and just
lust for all and we as a people really need to think about why it is that
pornography is the number one form of media now in the United States of America we've entered into a pornified
culture Pamela Paul wrote about this in a book called pornified it's one of the most disturbing books that I've read Chris
Hedges in his book the Empire of illusion the chapter the second chapter of that I actually regret reading it because it
was so troubling and disturbing to me about what's happening in the culture of pornography one of the pornographers
recently wrote an open letter to Mitt Romney saying the Republican Party needs to tone down its anti-pornography
rhetoric because they don't have their pulse on America America has embraced
pornography and it's about time the Republican Party embraced pornography that is what we're dealing with we are
dealing with an incredibly vile force in this country that's corrosive and that
is is literally eviscerating the moral character that has always been there in
this country and if the Muslims don't become a voice a rational voice an
intelligent voice not a reactionary pseudo religious or bad religious voice
because there's a lot of bad religion out there we have to be people rooted in intelligence in spirituality Plato talks
about the problem of stories in cultures and the corrosive effect they can have
on youth in his time he was talking about the plays of Aristophanes he was
talking about some of the classical literature that today is read for moral edification if he saw the type of
stories that were now on a daily basis consumed by our young people I think
that he would completely write off the possibility for any real spirituality
any real metaphysical aspect or element to this culture so we have to realize
the absolute danger of this we need to be people that are providers and
creators of a positive culture a culture of life not a culture of death we used
to call people that watch people in private acts of intimacy they were called peeping toms it's a crime in the
United States now we have large numbers of people watching people in public acts
of depravity and profanity and we call these consumers consumers of
entertainment peeping toms are classified as psychologically ill people
and yet people that are consuming this
culture that we have ample evidence of the harm that it's having I listen to a
lecture at the Witherspoon Institute on the effects of pornography in terms of
the neuro plasticity of the brain and how brains become rewired and it was one of the most troubling talks I'd ever
heard and we now know that our young children from the ages of 12 to 17 are
having exposures to pornography on a regular basis many many young people
this is a serious problem in our culture and this is one of the problems another
aspect that I think the Muslims should be at the forefront is the problem of
food in this country we now have an obesity epidemic in this country
that is spreading all over the world because of the types of food we're eating there's ample evidence now that
plant-based diets are the most important types of diets our prophet sallallaahu Saddam was extremely conservative in
what he ate he did not encourage overeating in fact he encouraged slightly under eating and this is clear
in our Sunna all of these problems that we're seeing in obesity are from the way
our food is produced in fact one of the people the National Institute for Health said that we
produce our food like crack cocaine it's designed to have an addictive effect on
people we have people now addicted to fast foods and this is real these are real addictions and Muslims we have a
religion that's predicated on halal and budget on on halal and pure food it's
one of the most important things in fact they said that the early companions the early community were more they were more
concerned about their food than any other aspect of their lives to eating
good things to eating wholesome things and to making sure that they were purchased with pure money that the money
and the earnings were pure we know in surah Saad calf when they sent the people of the cave into the city they
asked he told him look for the purest food I mean this is in surah that calf
looked for the purest food because people of righteousness are always concerned with what their body is made
up up because it's the body that is going to be your energy either spiritual
or demonic and when you're eating negative food you're going to be doing negative things CDM it's a rope male
lust banana Wattana have mercy on him and may Allah soo pan over to Ana restore him back to his place of resting
because we recently found out many of us that City Ahmed Shah Rukh's grave was
desecrated in Libya literally dug up and these people claimed that Libyans were
worshipping at monza rope Syria Hamas Arak said that all of the blessings of
the world are in two things the company you keep and the food that you eat so
make sure your company is good company and make sure your food is pure food we
should be encouraging organic farms we should be encouraging organic gardens we
should be at the forefront of the urban homesteading movement these are things that Muslims should be involved in we
should we should reject don't think you know don't think I'm going to go to McDonald's and have a halal fish right
seriously because the whole way that McDonald's everything about McDonald is antithetical to our profits Eliza
managed sooner and I'm speaking openly I don't care what anybody says I am Telling You that fast food is something
that is destroying people and we have to oppose fast food consumption don't drink
coca-cola don't drink Pepsi Cola don't drink CalFire Cola don't drink Cola drink water drink milk drink soy milk if
you want to but don't drink these drinks that have no nothing good for you and
the way they're produced is unhealthy we have an unsustainable consumption of
plastic if you look back there and look at the number of plastic cans that our plastic bottles of water that are back
there we've got a garbage fill in isne because we're drinking this is
unsustainable it cannot be sustained we have to find alternative approaches to
the way we consume things we have to be committed to being green the green bean
we have to but we have to have commitment I don't want applause I want real commitment I want people to commit
to changing their lives we need to divest in our homes we need to be with
people we talk about boycotting Israel I'm talking about boycotting all of them
if you can recognize their names you should be boycotting them because these people are destroying this planet
they're over consuming they're over selling Costco is a crises the whole
Costco mentality do you know that they don't even put labels on Costco halls so
you don't know where things are in Costco because they want you to wander around because they know people will
have impulse buying and buy more things than they actually needed this is social psychology you are being manipulated
like mice and a maze and we need to oppose this type of mentality because
it's destroying people so I'm really asking you to really think about the
better world buying guide we should have our own Muslim version of that of really
making choices I don't fly United air anymore because they get a F I don't fly
American I fly version American I fly southwestern and I fly the the JetBlue
because these have the highest ratings in terms of how they treat their employees in terms of their commitment
to social responsibility the amount of money they're having legislation is not having an impact on these people they
control legislation the only thing that will have an impact on these people is that we stop supporting them because
they have bought our senators they have bought our congressmen Mitt Romney speaks on their behalf and Barack Obama
speaks on their behalf we need to take back our country and the way we do that
is by educating ourselves and educating others and making moral commitments
moral commitments to not being part of the madness that we're in allah subhana
wa ta'ala said kuno shuhada Annan s be witnesses unto mankind be witnesses unto
mankind be consumed hyeon Metin Hara Jet Li Nass you are the best community
brought forth we have to embody those meanings we need to stop supporting
quote you know I get now my clothes are made I have a tailor who prays five
prayers in the Masjid and I go and he makes me my clothes
in one day and I know that the garments are actually Fairtrade garments I don't
want to support this system anymore and I don't think you should want to or you should we need to have an exit strategy
and we can do that there are morally committed Americans that are not Muslims
that are living pure lives in terms of what they practice then most of the Muslims that I know I know people that
don't carry credit cards in their wallets because they don't believe in them non-muslim peoples that are doing
this they will not carry credit cards I met a Catholic who was so committed to
the idea of not having usury and she felt and she actually engaged the
Muslims and she said I was so deeply disappointed because when I found out Muslims like the Catholic
of old before 1832 Muslims also maintained the prohibition of usury but
still unlike the Catholics still adhere to it and she said when I went to try to create a group of people that could work
together to get out of the yuzuriha system we should have our own credit cards we can do this Muslims can have
their own credit cards we need to have our own banks banks are not easy they're
not hard to start it's very easy to start it's so easy to start that instead of the bank the the bank robbers they
used to rob the banks they realize we can just start our banks why rob them and risk going to jail let's just open
up our own banks and then we can rob all the people right this is what they did so they actually got on the boards of
the banks right really this is what's happened so this is absolutely
imperative that we really think about this I would recommend going to move your money org about moving out of the
major banks into the smaller credit unions local credit unions local banks as a first step because all of these
major banks they own all of the pawn shops they own all of the yuzuriha s--
check cashing schemes in the poorest neighborhoods it's the same companies you should look at the documentary maxed
out and see what they do it's sinister what they do and they destroy your credit scores because they
want you to have low credit scores so if you miss one payment you get knocked down on your credit score because they
want you to pay more interest it's all a game it's a scheme and people have been really unfortunately they become victims
but it's because of our lack of vigilance it's our lack of vigilance though so this is I really feel this
absolutely necessary that we become part of the solution and not part of the problem but we have to do it with real
moral commitment that's the only way the final thing that I want to talk about is the problem of Anitha Mehta's ation in
our communities the problem of attacking other Muslims my father last
read the the Quran from beginning to end in English with notes and I said what's
the thing that struck you most about the book he said the prohibition of sectarianism I want you just to think
about that the prohibition of sectarianism that was what struck him
most somebody who's familiar with other revelations and other religious
literature and that really hit me because I started thinking of all those verses in the Quran while some movie huh
buddy died he well at of hiraku right don't be shy at acuña Shia and
don't split into sects all those prohibitions of sectarianism and I really took it to heart and I just
thought one of the most extraordinary things about our community is they developed a type of tolerance of
difference of opinion that is really unique in the history of world religions in many ways they they were able to
literally incorporate difference of opinion within the framework of a
exegetical tradition a way a hermeneutical way of interpreting
literature recognizing that there are many ways to understand the same thing there are limits to those it's not
infinite so they did put parameters but the parameters were quite broad and they
were very very wary of Anitha Mehta's ation the idea of saying somebody was
not a Muslim it's very hard to get kicked out of Islam it's very easy to
come into Islam it's very hard to get kicked out but we have so many Muslims now that have irrigated to themselves
the idea that if you don't agree with me you're not a Muslim they they they have
lost a sense of what what what has been turned in in in some traditions
fallibilism the idea that that we are fallible creatures by our very nature we
can be certain about Islam and we should be certain about Islam because European certainty is one of the prerequisites of
faith in our religion but we should always have a fallible istic understanding of our
our own interpretation of that religion or our own understanding of that religion Imam Shafi one of the greatest
scholars in religious history said whenever I debate with an interlocutor I
always assume if I believe in my position that I'm right but I could be
wrong and that he is wrong but he could be right in other words he had a sense
of fallibilism that my interpretation might not be the right and I should always be open to listening to another
possibility this is certainly for the scholars more than for the common people but it's very important that we
incorporate that in our understanding this idea of just calling anybody that
disagrees with us a Kaffir or a mob today this is a serious problem in our
community and we need to take it seriously really we need to take it seriously one of the the the principles
in our tradition is it was articulated
by abu hanifa or Delano and cidade velha what had you brahim in one of his books
says it this way in poetry were mutirão elfin men and malaria a problem in
Makkah region of San wahida to deem a thousand atheists to be Muslims by error
is easier in the sight of God than to consider one Muslim a kaffir
we should really take that seriously be very careful about making TUC fear of
other Muslims and I know many of my closest friends have been called calf
ears really many of my closest friends somebody up here who I know saying I'm
one of them you know we have this problem so we need to understand I'm a
committed Orthodox Muslim I follow the monarchy school right ooh follow the
dominant opinion I was trained in the UH shaadi Kalam tradition I inclined
towards the text of Imam at the Howey in terms of just what what as an articulation of creed
and I accept the way of Junaid ass Alec this was our tradition Islam is
threefold it is Creed it is law and its beauty and
the making of beauty these are the three dimensions of Islam if any one of them is lacking we have an incomplete Islam
our Islam is incomplete if we're not making things beautiful then something's
wrong with our Islam so my request to all of you in sha la is really commit to
turning your abode into doddle Islam into houses of Islam making your houses
houses a pure food of a pure clothing of fair trade using fair trade becoming
green in your homes teaching your children these things exercising them in our massage yet I'm so tired of going to
massage it and seeing Styrofoam glasses and plates really we shouldn't be doing
this it's not 

One Mauritian (ed: Probably Shaykh Qatri) was here in the United States 
We were here in Arizona in New Mexico and he had just gotten here and he was raised in a bedouin tradition 

Someday took a glass and drank from it and then threw it into the garbage can.

he said "what did he just do he just threw that cup into that garbage"

I said, "Well it’s a throw-away cup"

He said "What do you mean ?"

I said, "They just use it one-time and throw it away."

He said to me, <ARABIC> "This is the most extreme extravagance" 
and he said <ARABIC> "Extravagant people are the Brethren of the demons" <Arabic> "Allah hates wasters."

He said "That was a perfectly good cup,  he could have used it over and over again."

Think about this, it's not tenable.  We're in a real peril right now.  

Our fish are going to be dead in about 30 years 
We're living in really Apocalyptic times and people are taking it like a joke.  We need a global planetary Taubah 

we need a  global repentance 

we need a global
repentance as a species because we have messed this planet up so badly and it's
not right to our children it's not right to the future generations we should be stewards and caretakers in EJ I don't
fit are the Haditha I'm putting in the earth a caretaker when the Angels heard that they said are you gonna put one
that sheds blood and so's corruption facade could mean pollution as well and and Allah said any animal mad at adamant
I know what you don't know what he knew is there would be always that community of believers that reminded people of
what they should be doing marathon we need an excuse with our Lord on the day of judgment we should be those people to
sakamaki Iran was salam aliekum wa rahamtullah