Learning To Be Human (w Umar Farooq)

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Event Name: Learning To Be Human (w Umar Farooq)
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 4/27/2019 10:22:01 AM
Transcript Version: 2

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an that most people don't keep their

covenants right so in surah number 7 the

heights 101 to 102 God says these are

the towns whose stories we have

recounted unto you their messengers

certainly brought them clear proofs but

they would not believe in what they had

denied earlier

thus does God set a seal upon the hearts

of the disbelievers we did not find most

of them faithful to their pact many

commentators if not most they say that

pact is the primordial covenant indeed

we found most of them to be deviant in

their unfaithfulness to God's pact it is

said that in fact that human beings have

no pact at all literally the verse says

we found no pact for most of them they

didn't have a pact they didn't keep it

and what this means they were not

faithful to the pact means that they did

not continue to recognize God's lordship

and his rightful claim to their

obedience and worship during the course

of their earthly lives although they

took that covenant and everything

necessary for it was stamped on their

natures even the desire to do it so the

verse implies that most human beings are

unfaithful to their natures and this

comes up over and over again they fail

to act we fail to act upon the intrinsic


and the moral agency and

responsibilities that God has instilled

in us so the the Fatah then is something

that takes in the whole of our being we

talked about that it takes in everything

about us it's natural for us to stand

erect it's natural for us to walk on our

feet it's difficult for us not to do

that it's natural for us to eat in a

particular way it's difficult for us not

to know that but the fit role also

includes those things that pertain to

intellect that pertain to the heart and

everything it's a very comprehensive

knowledge and it is we believe a

manifestation of God's mercy to us

because we believe that human beings are

given a very important task which is

stewardship on this earth this world is

not our garden you know it's the garden

of the animals it's the garden of the

trees and of the water you know but to

keep that pact of stewardship is very

very difficult if we are good everything

becomes good if we are bad everything

that comes back but God gives us

everything we need for that in fact he

gives us much more than we need and much

more than we ever use also connected

with this is the idea that faith which

is ingrained in us by virtue of our

fitler our primordial self is something

that only needs to be brought out we

only have to be reminded so there are

basically two kinds of people then from

this point of view those who turn their

backs on the futur and forget that it's

there and forget what it is and those

who allow their thoughts to delve into

their futur to know themselves and to

remember the infinite treasures that are

stored up there

and God says in the Quran this is the

refrain that goes through the whole

Quran that perhaps they may remember and

he says in order that the people of

al-bab of true hearts a call to

remembrance and he says remember the

blessing of God upon you and the

Covenant that he made with you and this

theme of Vicar and Tessa Korah and

thethe key are in death care this goes

through the piranhas as you know so

again what are you remembering you're

remembering what you know and the

prophets and messengers who are given

their messages by God they come to bring

that out in us and to make us remember

who we are and what we have in us one of

the things that God says in the Quran is

that he created us with two hands with

his two hands God said to Satan I

beliefs what prevented you from

prostrating unto what I created with my

two hands he doesn't say that about

anything else God creates things with

his hand that's that's said with his

hands but here I created with my two

hands did you grow arrogant or are you

among the exalted he said Satan I am

better than him you created me from fire

while you created him from clay but here

God is saying to a Blees are you really

like you think are you really a creation

more exalted than this Adamic being that

I made with both my hands I didn't make

anything else like that and the verse

indicates that God undertook the

creation of Adam by himself

of course God creates everything but

that this was a unique and special

creation which all of us inherit

stink from everything else and

everything that God's hands have wrought

God singled out Adam then for creation

with God's two hands or by his two hands

to honor him to give him Kurama dignity

among all human beings and again to make

it possible for him to do what he's

created to do it been out of him he says

from the first existent thing down to

the last of existent things God did not

combine both hands in anything he

created except the human being that is

in the human beings earthly and bodily

and other configurations he created

everything by the divine command but

with one hand

God's two hands gave Adam a preeminence

to sheath over all creation all the

realities in the created world were

brought together in him which of course

makes him possibly the lowest of the low

but it also makes him the highest of the

high everything in creation has a

station angels have stations cats are

cats birds are birds but human beings

you have to find your station and you

can always go higher and higher and

higher there's no limit we can also go

lower and lower and lower there's no

bottom to the pit all the realities in

the created world were brought together

in us this was so that the human being

could be the Khalifa unga of God on

earth so you know good and you know evil

there's nothing that you don't know even

the demonic doesn't know more about evil

than you know but you weren't created to

be evil you were created to block evil

but you have to know it to do that the

world demands

you know the divine names and the divine

names were brought together with

in Adam all of them that is why Adam was

singled out for the knowledge of the

names of all of them as we believed and

also rabbinic belief emphasizes this as

much as we do maybe even in greater

detail a lot of rabbinic belief begins

with Adam pad moon with Adam in paradise

so Adam then is an independent world

everything else is part of that world

the world becomes complete with the

creation of adam adam is complete in


and the world is like that - you are the

microcosm it is the macrocosm if you get

yourself right it gets itself right it

is incomplete without you you're

complete without you it is complete

without it but you are complete without

did I say they're right it is incomplete

without you and you're a complete

without it the two hands emphasize God's

power in Adams creation and that God

created Adam without an intermediary

there was no father there was no mother

it alludes also to the diverse

activities involved in Adams creation I

will pass him push ad one of our great

spiritual masters and teachers he says

about the creation of Adam by God's two

hands what God deposited in Adam is not

found in anyone or anything else so that

God's special favor and the special who

sucia the special status that he gives

to human beings become manifest in Adam

and in his children one of our great

scholars gen D we have great Persian

scholars he's one of them he says the

reality of beliefs of Satan contradicts

the reality of Adam and everything the

reality of Adam is the manifest form of

the unity of the all comprehend

if nests of everything brought together

by God in the engendered worlds so

that's Adam he brings everything

together and that's who we're supposed

to be also God brought his two hands

together in Adam

only because humaneness is a reality

requiring equilibrium ya t doll and

balance and the perfection of bringing

together both the the thickness of

things and the men eNOS of things is all

in that in contrast the reality of a

Blees is disequilibrium and unbalance a

Blees becomes defined by the particular

ego which we call in our tradition Elana

nieta Lucia the partial ego he is

delimited by seeking exaltation by

claiming eminence by manifestation of

the self as ego rising up against the

reality of truth and of the one and he's

veiled by that this reality requires a

fiery separation that rise up rises up

against other elements couldn't we one

of our great scholars he says the

interrelationship of God's two hands

brings all correlation and polarity and

the world into existence and all of

those correlations and polarities are of

course in us who can be the highest of

the high and the lowest of the low

it establishes the fundamental created

dualities such as the seen and the

unseen it sets up the fundamental human

perceptions such as declaring similarity

between God and creation or between

creation and God and incomparability

tanzy all movement all change all

process in the world or trace back to

this reality of the two hands let's


now so we believe in our tradition in

what some people have called

transcendent humanism and I always like

to mention this if I get a chance but

among the books that really everyone has

to have especially students as a tuna is

the rise of humanism by George Makdissi

this was a great Christian Arab scholar

a real scholar and he shows that the

rise of human human ISM in the West we

won't say that it's not indebted to the

Greeks and to the Hellenic tradition but

it's fundamentally indebted to us also

the rise of humanism in fact Pico della

Mirandola who is one of the great

ideologues of the Renaissance and he

writes a book on man which is called the

manifesto of the Renaissance but he says

in that he's speaking to Catholic

priests and he says Reverend father's

I'm not going to quote what he said

because I forgot

but basically what he's saying is that

he is the measure of all things which is

the Renaissance language as I learned

from Abdullah the Saracen which means

Abdullah the Arab and who is Abdullah

the Saracen probably Abdullah even poo

Tabor who is one of our humanists who

wrote about that many centuries before

Piko Piko know Arabic by the way and he

knew Hebrew and he knew many things but

the human being is either everything or

nothing and although we can speak

honestly about in between there is no

excluded middle but the reality is

really that we have to strive to be

everything and if we don't do that in

the end it's as if we were nothing and

some of us do in fact become nothing

Nadja but Ned Modine or Ozzie another

great Persian meta physician says in

kneading the clay of Adam

all the attributes of the satans and the

Predators and the beasts and the plants

and the minerals and the inanimate

objects were actualized in us however

the clay was singled out for the

attribution of by my two hands hence

each of these blameworthy attributes

became a shell and within each shell was

placed a pearl of a divine attribute

each of these things these potential

evils we have they're like a shell and

in each of them is a pearl

that's if we were we live as the human

beings were supposed to be and then he

goes on to say the human frame belongs

to the lowest of the low while the human

spirit belongs to the highest of the

high the wisdom of this is that human

beings have to carry the burden of the

trust and the pact the knowledge of God

and to be stewards in his earth hence

they have to possess the strength of

both worlds to a perfection they

possessed possessed this strength

through attributes not through form life

knowledge power will hearing seeing

speech and so forth since the human

spirit pertains to the highest of the

high nothing in the world of spirits

even Angels can have its strength and in

the same way the human soul pertains to

the lowest of the low

so that nothing in the world of the

souls or the physical beings can have

its strength whether a beast or a

predator or anything else

so our transcendent humanism then is

based on the idea of the in sandal camel

of the perfect human being the human and

this is the purpose of religion for us

you know religion is to know God it is

to worship God it is to know God it is

to be his steward

earth but also you can't do that without

perfection and we have the power to

perfect ourselves but this is in

following the way of the prophets and

the messengers and the great Saints so

the goal of the human being therefore is

balance and harmony everything is that

and in the Greek tradition you see that


perhaps more perfectly than any other

Western tradition the goal of the human

being is balance harmony and perfection


we must arise and become Allen sandal

camel the perfect human being and you

must in that move beyond Allen Sun and

hyowon the human being who's an animal

to become a perfected human being is not

only the highest possible human

aspiration it is the only proper human

aspiration human beings who do not

actualize their beautiful and majestic

and unique form are less than human we

can only become perfect through absolute

servanthood through our ibadah through

Budhia through Buddha each of these has

a special meaning for nearness to God

only comes through that God is the real

this is what we believe

isn't it the absolute I'll help the more

that you approach him the more real you

become the more real you become the more

balanced you become beauty is the

splendor of truth' right that the the

universal routing of beauty is God is

the truth God is beautiful he loves

Beauty then as you come close to him and

are made real by him you become inwardly

beautiful which is balanced harmonious

just virtuous and then you radiate

beauty and this is why we see in any

sound civilization or culture that human

beings are extremely beautiful and

everything they do

God is the real so the closer that we

approach him the more real we become and


I'd like to conclude may god enable us

in this incredible College that you have

here in this incredible place to bring

this truth to life this is our tradition

but then who knows it in this time even

we ourselves are among the most ignorant

people of it thank you very much


Part 2


first of all just wanna thank you dr.

Amato for your talk I mean the the book

that you wrote which I have in Arabic

about cetera Amman and cetera Abdullah

bin baya actually read that book and was

very impressed with it the hadith that

you quoted cool amalu denuded Oh Allen


baba who you hurry Daniel oh you know

Serrano you Magister nahi that the

hadith indicates that people are

enculturated into customs and beliefs

and traditions but then he says come out

to a jeweled behemot obey the hematin

Gemara just as the animal is created

complete or whole in its nature held to

his Sunnah behind in Jeddah do you

notice any mutilations that that you do

as humans to your animals like cutting

their ears and things like that so it

indicates that the Vitara is it's it's a

wholeness in nature that's there but the

hadith also indicates that there's a

whole set of other possibilities to that

that inherent or Principia nature and

one of the things I think that's very

confusing for people in the 20th century

we've seen human nature is denied like

this idea that we have human nature is

denied and that all peoples the

anthropologists and sociologists and

social scientists have shown that

there's so much diversity in the world

that it's impossible for us to have some

type of human nature that unites us all

as this hadith would indicate and

there's a very interesting Herodotus in

the histories has a very

interesting section where Darius the

King brings the Greeks and they honor

their fathers by burning them and he

asked them how much money would it cost

to get them to honor them by eating them

and they said they you could give them

all the money in the world they wouldn't

eat they were horrified by that and then

he brings the Indians and who ate their

father's to honor them and he says how

much money to burn your fathers and they

were horrified by that and Herodotus

makes this comment about how customs are

so different even though they were both

honoring their their ancestors so just

in terms of how do you see this

incredible diversity of human expression

and and the relationship that it has to

this idea of a universal nature when we

talk about the filtra you know then some

of the most important verses about it

are like surah Deschamps in surah 13 you

know by the fig and the olive and so

forth by the sun and the morning

brightness so these are these are

chapters in the Quran which established

that human beings are perfectly created

and that there's nothing wrong about

them at all

but commentators say that one of the

reasons why they're preceded by the

oaths is because the oath in Arabic

means this is the literal truth it's

emphatic it's not metaphorical it's

absolutely so but it needs that emphasis

because no one would believe this and

you know that if you look at what people

do especially the evil they do this also

takes on so many forms it's impossible

to comprehend and it is very clear and

the other hadith we just denied as you

know just looked at a very small part

even the hadith I mentioned

left out two-thirds of the hadith just

for times sake you know but it's very

clear in our tradition that it is the

demonic more than anything else that

alters the human beings and they do it a

thousand different ways times a thousand

different ways if we would look for

proofs of the filter law then I think

one of the greatest proofs of that in

the 20th century is the great Austrian


anthropologist Vilhelm it and he wrote a

book in German das poem this idea got

this Goethe cedilla the origin of the

idea of God never translated into

English and it's 12 volumes and you know

this book is really amazing because he

spent his life documenting all the

so-called primitive religions primitive

religions being what we call micro

religions their kinship groups that

don't have political structures

everything is determined by kinship and

these little groups that we call

primitive they're always very isolated

otherwise they wouldn't be that way and

there many of them especially in the

20th century there still were many that

are not there today and he showed that

all of them have the idea of the one God

no exceptions whatsoever none of them

are polytheistic in the sense of having

Pantheon's not a single one and he did

that also to refute lubbock and tyler

who were evolutionist anthropologists

who didn't do research by the way they

didn't do good research and they claimed

that religion begins with animism so he

showed that's absolutely not true and he

himself who was a catholic he believed

that this was a proof of ancient

prophecy and we wouldn't necessarily

disagree with him because these people

are so isolated and yet they have these

amazing similarities that pertain not

just to the belief in the one god

then they call by beautiful names you

know but also they believe in morality

they believe that marriage is given to

them by God they believe in heaven and

hell some of them even believe in the

sea rot the path that takes you to the

garden and so we would also say that's a

manifestation of football but like as

you said human beings no one has a

greater spectrum of potentials good and

bad than us right

the Nesta Webster who was regarded

before she went into conspiracy theories

and as a historian in one of her books

she makes that argument that the the

unitarianism was the aboriginal faith of

human beings that idolatry was was

secondary and and not primary so she I'm

wondering if she was influenced by that

well Arnold Toynbee was right that's one

of the main influences on Arnold Toynbee

and Arnold Toynbee who is really a

remarkable thinker and you know

historians sometimes are equivocal about

whether they want to accept him or not

because he's he does what historians are

not supposed to do which is to tell you

what it all means

but you know Toynbee I was very deeply

influenced by Schmitt and by others and

one of the interesting things about

Toynbee is that he believed that the

most advanced human beings who ever

lived were those of the Paleolithic of

the Old Stone Age and again he doesn't

say that just off the top of his head

they didn't build cities like we built

cities but they were spiritually very

far advanced and he bases that on a lot

of things but Schmidt's one of them well

you brought up Toynbee and I think you

were the first one that exposed me to

Arnold Toynbee that's kind of become a

very interesting reference that I go

back to at different times I think some

of the students I have actually read at

least the abridged

version of toy biz study in history but

one of the things that he talks about he

at the outset of the study he argues for

the differences like these differences

in civilizations and he wants to

understand where civilization originated

from and what produces it and he he

basically rejects race this idea that

there's racial superiority and some

peoples as opposed to others he

categorically rejects that but he does

make an argument that there are distinct

manifestations of civilization and one

of the things that again as human

expressions there's such an incredible

diversity on the planet of human

behavior and expression so which would

you do you see civilization as something

that unifies human beings in in in from

from a fifth sense that humans by nature

begin to create civilization you know

language is so important so when we use

the word civilization one of the

problems is that it defining the term it

comes from the word city so it's those

great societies that build big cities

like Rome and so forth and this is where

in our tradition we use the word I'm

wrong and I'm wrong to me is a much

better word because of the fact that it

has nothing to do with cities it means

bringing things to life you know it

could be preferred to better ones just

as although we have al-hilal and Alaba

do but you know I think that you know

with with Toynbee and you know his

concept of civilization this focusing on

these civilizations that are big States

and so forth I think that that's if we

had a broader spective it would be good

of course when he talks about human

beings in the Paleolithic then he's

taking that broader perspective but

Toynbee also believes very much

what he calls the creative minority and

one of the most important ideas in point

B is that history is always the work of

minorities and therefore more minorities

that are galvanized and that have

solidarity they will lead and they will

have great effects and he believes that

civilizations like those of Egypt and

those of Mesopotamia and those of

ancient China the Yellow River Valley

Civilization the Yellow Emperor that you

know that these begin by creative

minorities and creative minorities are

always inclusive and they're not

oppressive and they're great gift to

human beings and in fact maybe hitomi

hints at this but we could easily say

that they're prophetic and he emphasizes

the fact that to do civilizations like

those of Egypt or Mesopotamia or the

yellow valley in China is such an

immense human undertaking that

essentially can't be done without a

prophet it's got to be done with

something that can you know give us

divisions in labor and a whole way knew

of weight in a new way of living but

then the civilizations usually become

civilizations of domineering or dominant

minorities and then they oppress and

they become the they become you know the

Prophet they become the property of the

elites and then they create which time

what time because the proletariat's

using that Marxist term but you have an

internal proletariat which are the

oppressed people in the society and you

have an external proletariat which are

usually better when people's who are

also oppressed by that civilization he

would regard the pre-islamic Arabs to be

the external proletariat of the

Byzantine and Persian empires okay so

they have to keep their distance but

they also learn from them how to use


and usually they can often conquer them

as well but I sort of forgot the

questions well yeah okay it's fine let

me let me look at something else here

that you brought up the idea of moving

because you spoke very beautifully about

the Adamic nature and that human beings

are these incredibly honored creatures

but there's also in the quran in san

which is a difficult word to translate

you know it's the intimate being it's

the being that that represents the

essence it's that dying you know the in

san is the essence of the of the the the

i but the in son is also talked about

potato in Sonoma Clara you know that

that in Santa Julio Kahului you know the

human being was created in angst and

anxiety he's called a jewel in the Quran

he's hasty he's oppressive you know ya

Johannes in the Mubarak inada and fusco

your oppression is against your own self

nasa talking to all humanity Marvin I'm

now who are economists um Kennedy Albany

moon we didn't oppress them but they

were oppressing themselves so there's

also this other side of the human being

that is actually very negative in the

Quran and obviously the Christian

tradition deals with that with the idea

of the Fallen human being how would you

address that aspect of the human being

so this is also part of the futur all

that it has the negative capacity right

and it is forgetful and it has to be

forgetful because then it can't use what

its Vitolo is for which is to rediscover

it and when we come into life we believe

that all children until the age of

maturity or sometime after that they're

Saints you know because of the fact that

they have this fitrah and they're also

not morally responsible they're not

moral agency you know but then as the

passions develop in us then these

passions you know the the idle of the

pig the idol of the dog anger and


you know they will necessarily veil us

from who we are so you have this seeming

contradiction between holy people in

Sanyo hell you are either Meza who shall

rue Jews who are with either a mystical

faith oh man you are so we have this but

again our commentators make it very

clear that this is a particular type of

human being you know here's a human

being who's not true to his or her foot

law and what was the other part just you

know that idea of looking at the human

and all these negative qualities so

would then human nature if we if we say

there is a human nature that's universal

I mean you'd exceed that we would insist

but but for us the nature and from that

hadith that began the talk the nature

the human nature is really a nature of

potentialities of is of capacities and

and so the actualization and we have the

concept of it an incentive common you

know this idea of the perfectible human

being that can move towards a kind of

wholeness or completeness which is a

restoration of that of that first being

is that is that mmm is that how we have

that and you know of course I'm a

convert this beloved brother is a

convert many of the people here are

converts and I remember when I became a

Muslim which was early January the 3rd

1970 and then as I went through that

first year there were certain dilemmas I

had in my heart from before like an

emptiness even though I had been

religious and that was filled

you know believe it or not you could

actually see your face changing in the


especially in Ramadan like can I do this

can I fast this I've never done that in

my life and then you just see yourself

changing and so it's this is manifest I

think to most people who come into the

faith and I remember when we were in

Spain Sheikh Hamza was also part of that

that we had a particular person come to

us from the mountains he was from Madrid

he came from a Stalinist background he'd

become a Buddhist he was in a black suit

that he could sleep in or keep him warm

he did his own Buddhism and then all of

his buddies joined us and he was we

later called him ice man you probably

met him and when he came to us he was

frightening you know his eyes were like

about to pop out of his head yeah and we

had a madrasah which comes a I met him

there and we had it was an Andalusian

type of school and you know we had a

little door with a open for the window

you know it's like a window to the door

to know who's knocking and when he

knocked at the door the brother who went

to open it shut it just like that it's

like and then he says oh my god like

what if he becomes a Muslim you know

we've got enough crazies in the

community already

and he kept knocking and if finally we

had to let him in and then in Nelly lie

he were in LA he wrote you know he took

the Shahada we thought oh my god what

are we going to do and I know my wife

Samira remembers him really well and

like within three weeks you could not

recognize him and he was also a

professional Acrobat and I would watch

him from my office looking over the

garden and he couldn't take two steps

without doing us a big skipped and the

way that Acrobat skip is not the way you

skip and he became he became the most

beautiful person in our community and he

became a person that you know anything

you wanted done even cleaning your house

even doing your laundry

you know sacrificing a chicken he would

be the one to do it so again one of the

most important things is you can come

back to the football and that's why we

say the filter can be altered but it

can't be substituted for something else

my wife and I when we were at Michigan

where I began to teach in 1978 you know

we were in student housing because I was

an assistant professor who's always poor

and she was also completing her

education that we were in the Graduate

housing and there was a woman there who

was a feminist she was divorced with a

child she was a law student and I don't

know why but she liked us we liked her

and we always argued and she's always

talking you have you can't get in a word

edgewise and then you know one spring

day and she's talking about you know

that how horrible religion has been to

women and we say that women are

religions best friends that religious

not necessarily their best friend and

you know so one spring day she was out

we were out in an open area and her son

was there he's about three years old

and he was having a big time and then he

got over to where the cars were parked

hmm you know on a street both sides of

the street and there's a car coming down

the street really fast and he's going

out between the cars and then she

notices him just at the last moment

where did she say oh my god

I swear she said oh my god and the car

slammed on its brakes and it screeched

and there was crying and yelling and he

escaped by an inch of his life

you see and then and this is what the

Quran says that anyone who calls upon

God in dire need he will answer their

prayer that was st author which she did

which is coming out of what her fitful

but when the fitara is veiled over it

only shows itself to be what it is in

times of great fear mm and this was a

time of great fear I can't lose my son

and also times of great joy and that can

they say there's no disbeliever in the

foxhole so but the ability of the fits

order to come back this is very hopeful

for us isn't i