Qur'anic Remedies for Not Succumbing to Pride | Prime Minister Imran Khan and Hamza Yusuf

Transcript Details

Event Name: Qur'anic Remedies for Not Succumbing to Pride | Prime Minister Imran Khan and Hamza Yusuf
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 3/18/2022
Transcript Version: 1

Transcript Text

uh first of all i really want to thank you i know i i'm running a small college
and i know how busy that is and you're running a a very large country with many
challenges so i really appreciate the time that you're affording us for me it's
quite extraordinary the times that i've interacted with you and the few times that i've met you
you seem to be a very down-to-earth person and and and and that's a very interesting phrase that we use down to
earth because the uh in arabic the term for the what the prophet saws asked us to do
is to is tawada which means to stay close to the earth and so i just
looking at that um i'm just curious how you've dealt with
um all these remarkable achievements uh sheikh hamza well let me say one
thing oh you know and i have had a very varied life
you know someone who finished his education got a degree but
at the same time played international cricket so normally when you play international sport you have to be
very focused and and it's a to excel
you know to become the best in your country you really have to have that tunnel vision and normally it's very
difficult to study you can't do two most international sportsmen actually do
not finish their studies so because i did the two i had you know i had a bigger perspective of
life so if you if you all you do is play sport all the
time and you you know you have you you have no other perspective in life so this
the everything becomes that sport and and so when you excel in it you think
you know you've conquered the world and there's always a chance that you will um
you know you will have arrogance in you because you're so much better than the other players so you know you
it's it's a very natural thing when you excel as a sportsman and you you know you you reach the top
so others are not as good as you and and because that's your world you you you have this uh
a chance of in my opinion what is the worst quality in a human being arrogance
you can get arrogant on the other hand i played
20 almost 22 decades of international sport so in that period you have lots of ups
and downs that also tells you a lot you know it
it when you when you fall it leads to a lot of soul searching so
when you go into the cycle of up and down you know when you reach the top and then you have setbacks and over 20 years
i had lots of setbacks i had a lot of successes but a lot of setbacks
so during the low period in your life it teaches you a lot
so you do not eventually lose your you know when you go up your feet stay on the ground because you know that you
know you're not always going to stay up there so that's one but really it is uh you know later in my
life just at the end of my sporting career when i was blessed with almighty's greatest
gift and that's faith you know i never understand
understand this concept of people forcing into uh someone to your religion or faith
because for me faith is is a gift of god you know not everyone has this this iman
of faith so once you have that then you have a completely different
perspective on life because you believe that success respect are in the hands of god this is
you know clearly stated in the quran so once you know that
when you have successes you then attribute it to god and you know that it's because of his
will that you have succeeded so arrogance disappears from your life and then the most important thing
that you control what is the most destructive thing within a human being is the human
ego if you do not control the the the ego it is very destructive and i've seen it
you know destroy human beings so faith actually true
faith iman firmly makes you control your ego and there's a
tradition in american baseball that when when they see a pitcher pitching a perfect game
all the other players leave him alone because they they know he's gone into a kind of zone and and they don't they don't want to
disrupt that but what they do at the end of the game is they they they uh push a
a pie a cream pie in his face as he comes off the mound and it's a way of reminding him you know
you had a perfect game today but tomorrow you might lose so it there is an awareness i think uh in in people of
that up and down we read in the history books that when a roman general used to
come back victorious you know there would be a man standing behind him when he would be
taking the all the applause from the crowd he would be telling him that remember you're human exactly and i think this is
something that a lot of people in positions when they get into positions
that you've gotten into they they very often shut that aspect out and and surround themselves i mean
this is uh one of the things that aristotle says is that tyrants surround themselves with yes men
that they don't want to be uh reminded of those things and pharaoh
is is a good example of that and it's it's very interesting that in the in the quranic narrative
the the most repeated story is one of immense arrogance which is pharaoh and then
the humble servant of god which is moses and then this idea that in the end it's humility that god
gives victory to um i i'm one of the things about pride that
really interests me is in in i i know in urdu they say which is very interesting because
because it's taken from the arabic which is a kind of self-delusion that you you
enter into a delusional state from arabic is one of the names of the devil
and then um and then there's this idea of is which in in arabic is actually a
positive thing the quran describes the believers of as having a kind of dignity
and and a sense of self-worth and i think what it seems to me is that in in in
many parts of the muslim world a lot of muslims have lost that sense
of civilizational pride and i think it seems to me that what you're really
trying to do uh in in an extraordinary country with an extraordinary people
is restore uh that that pride and and and sense of
of who we are as as a uh as a people
but the quran liberates a human being
when god says that there are three things that are in his hands
number one is respect and humiliation so you cannot be humiliated and you cannot respect unless
god wills it number two is um how much risk in other words how much
you will the sort of uh money you will have in life you know
how much you will make in life that isn't also in god's hand you can only strive
but he is the one who will determine how wealthy you will be become and third is life and death that's in
god's hands so in my opinion these three these three uh areas are which give us
greatest concern we are scared of dying we are scared of being humiliated or
being deprived of a livelihood so in my opinion when you have faith
you have complete belief that these the things that cause you the greatest
fear are in god's hands and therefore
you realize that only thing you have got in your hands is to struggle
success lies in his hands and which i've always tried to tell my you know my political party i've always
tried to make them understand this because you know when i came into politics
there were two things everyone because they are mafias in politics everyone
people were scared to come into politics because they're scared they would be killed or they would be
beaten up by these mafias so number one fare was actually of dying
and number two was of being humiliated because they had they were powerful people they would uh
you know i mean my character assassination in these past 20 years the sort of things that have come out
against me and all sorts of scandals and and and fake news to humiliate me
but the reason why i you know i mean i struggle all this time and for
15 years really without much success is because it was my belief that no human being can humiliate me no
matter what they say and secondly you know life and death is not in in my
hands it's and you know i built this cancer hospital and i had seen friends of mine come in
to the hospital perfectly healthy with a tumor and gone in a few months time so
this fear of dying is also a big impediment in a human potential a human
being achieving its potential but the important thing which you said was
pride you know uh over my during my life i also realized
that this uh self-esteem
it it is the greatest uh trait of a human being in in in in our language we call it herith
it is it is a great quality in a human being and i i you know i remember i was my
house was being built and it was the hottest time of the year and i was just watching this house the
sun was blazing down and the laborers were working and there was this one guy
you know young man who was just i mean his shirt was drenched with sweat
and he never once stopped working whereas others would sit in the shade for a while have a glass of water and
then come back so at the end of the day when he finished i went and and
handed him some money which would have been a lot of money for him and he asked me he said why are you
giving me this money i said because you know i saw you the way you worked he said
the work i did i am i've been paid for and please uh keep your money so the
respect i had for this ordinary laborer was much more than all so many rich
people i've met in my life you know who just do not have this self-respect and this dignity
or rare as we call it and you're absolutely right that you know i find
uh people uh you know who have dignity and respect
no matter whether they have money or not you know they command respect
you respect them you know it reminds me i was i was in i took my sons to a hood to visit uh
uh say nahumza and uh that we there were very few people there but there was a man selling
candy he had he was a little like a bedouin man and he was selling candy on
a little uh cart and so i wanted to get my boys something
sweet at the place and they had 10 reals and the candy was only
like two i think reals and i told the men keep the change and and he said he said no the candy's
only two reals and i said no it's all right you know you he said look i'm not a beggar this is my job
and it's only two and he refused to take like what what i was looking at as
charity uh because of exactly what you're talking about and and that that
is something i think god loves it's a it's it's that dignity that you carry with you
the the prophet salallahu said in a very interesting tradition for me i think he
said the believer almo the believer should never humiliate
himself and and that gets to what you just said is that really it's it's it's we who
humiliate ourselves nobody can humiliate you if you have that dignity they can attempt to take it away from
you but they can't and and that gets back to a question of how
how you think we can can restore this sense of dignity that
for a lot of muslims seems that there's almost a shame and especially in wealthy people and i think it's something that
that i find very inspiring in you is that you you know you're not ashamed of your
faith and your tradition which is quite rare amongst people that have entered into politics there's almost a a
reservation in acknowledging the the the part of faith sheikhabs are two things
one that um
no god but allah that in itself gives you dignity
you know the motto of my party when i started my party 25 years ago
you alone i worship you alone i'll ask for help you see in my opinion
true faith iman that in itself gives you dignity because just the fact that you don't bow
in front of anyone but the one that is a liberation of a human being
uh i've already you know young people ask me about uh who do i respect or
what is the concept of richness you see for me
someone who is rich is someone whose conscience has no price
you can't buy them and that's what i mean you know this and you talked about the candyman and i
talked about this laborer people who who who don't bow in front of anyone who
do not allow their dignity lose their dignity whatever happens
they are the ones who command respect and you know if i i read this book after the
it's called the arab conquest it's after a prophet
you know after after his death the way the arabs spread all over the world
and it's very fascinating if you read that it was not they didn't have any
technical advantage over all the people there they defeated the mongolians for instance they also
had a you know conquered half the world very quickly but they developed a certain form of warfare they had these
special bows which used to shoot arrows much further than anyone else they had these special horses and a
war technique but these arabs had nothing they were the same arabs who were insignificant
in front of persian and byzantine empires so but when you read about it they were liberated souls they were fearless
they were fired with a higher imagination and this is the basis of
you know if one one sports team is very talented the other sports team
has self esteem and respect you know they have pride
they will beat the talented team and i've seen this more often in my life and this is
really it the problem when you say about muslims and
rich muslims and wealthy muslims i've seen them lose their
their pride i've seen them you know become servants of wealth
you know they've their wealth has made them enslaved them actually and
they stick to their wealth thinking that's everything so um this is unfortunate in our muslim world
we have very few uh leadership in the muslim world which actually is true truly liberated
yeah okay leadership and this is something uh also a really
of great interest to me the one of my teachers is um
from malaysia who i think is a brilliant philosopher but he wrote a book called secularism
which which he identified as what he felt was one of the fundamental
problems in the muslim world is the secularization of the muslim mentality and this loss of the sense of
the sacred and i think even a lot of people here recognize that that a lot of the problems in the world
are a result of seeing the world as a commodity seeing it as something that you simply consume
and there's a type of human arrogance that goes with that but one of the things that he said
he he he basically argued that the biggest problem in the muslim world
was a confusion of knowledge and and he said the confusion and error in knowledge created a condition for
what he called the loss of adeb within the community and and that condition
arising out of one and two the confusion and error in knowledge and then the loss of adam has led to a rise of leaders who
are not qualified for valid leadership of the muslim community and who not possess the high moral intellectual and
spiritual standards required for islamic leadership so he makes an argument that
it's really a confusion of knowledge and i think one of the things that you and i
share is trying to restore knowledge as a basis
for as a starting point really and so i know
that you have the the university that you've been working on in pakistan among
other amazing things i mean i've followed some of your political career um and and i i think like the
reforestation project is is is a really interesting project um trying to uh
bring back uh the trees that have been lost even mentions that the uh when the when the
arabs went across from uh across africa he said that you could
that you could uh a squirrel could literally uh go from egypt to morocco
without touching the round ground because there were so many uh trees so we've seen a real loss of that but i'm
curious what you know just how you see the centrality of knowledge and restoring that
uh as part of this restoration of civilizational pride for
a community you're right about you know when you have total divorce
from the sacred and you just operate on the material
and which is basically what is happening and then with the problems because of that for instance i
mean the this big environmental disaster in the world which is called climate change
is purely because uh there's uh human beings have moved so far away
from the sacred and sacred basically means being humane thinking about others
it means you know the uh the saying of a prophet peace be upon him
that he live for the next world as if you'll die tomorrow for the next world so your deeds should be such
that if you die tomorrow you you can stand in front of the almighty and be held accountable
but live in this world as if you will live for a thousand years so whatever you are doing right now you
should think the repercussions it will have on humanity for another thousand years
so it's one of the greatest statements you know about i mean it just completely
envelops everything about environment about how we should be treating the way we live on this earth
so that also i believe this whole enviro environmental movement is sacred
whenever you think about other human beings you know you are because god whatever
you do for god's if you want to get close to the almighty you have to be humane
so um what i find unfortunately basically the leadership that comes up
through this political system you know they just are too divorced from um
from the from iman from tenants of their faith and so
basically they come in for power and then they compromise for staying in power
and power is for personal benefits and it's all over really most of the politicians
very few politicians i find come with a specific objective of looking after humanity
their main objectives the benefits of power and most of the developing world
it is coming into powerful self-interest how much money they can make
so unfortunately you know there are very few mandelas someone who came in for a higher cause
um and you know our great leader jana who was the founder of pakistan
someone like him who you know came in and sacrificed himself for this great
cause so on which is why politics politicians are looked down upon in the world because
they say they're coming to help the people and they really help themselves this is a a huge problem and i think
it's interesting from a spiritual perspective a lot of the
the the ethical traditions that we have and not just in the muslim community at
the source of this is actually is arrogance and because it's it's the idea that the
human being somehow uh has only responsibility to himself
that he's not responsible to to anything above himself so he he in essence makes
himself like a god and and and that gets to how do we
um just in terms of as a community how do we
get out of the conditions that that we find ourselves in because i think a lot of muslims
you know have looked at the muslim world for some time and seen the type of rulers that that exist in the muslim
world and i think there's there's so much animosity unfortunately so instead of like praying for people because one
of the things that traditionally like in the imam fahawi's creed he says that we have to pray for our
leaders that there's this idea that as you are so are the people put over
you so that if the people themselves are corrupt they very often get that type of
leadership so how do we get out of that situation i mean i know that the trials
and tribulations that go with leadership like i said i i run a very small
college and and the headaches that i have just from that um the lack of sleep the the
difficulties that come with that and so i i can't imagine the type of burden that somebody like yourself would have
on your shoulders so how what you know what's the light at the end of the tunnel that's not an
oncoming train you know you know when i started politics i only came into politics if i
did not have iman of faith i would never have come into politics because i had everything
i mean i i was already a big name in my country a sports star and i had
you know respect and i had um you know the money i wanted for my life
i had enough money so you know for me to spend 22 years of my life
struggling to you know become a prime minister
you know it made no sense why would someone like me who had everything so the only reason was i believed
that i had a responsibility to my society because i was given more than others
you know the whole test of a human being according to uh i think all religions
is that if god gives it he will test you according to what he's given you in life
the hereafter test the test when we when we meet our uh
when we meet our god he will test us what did we do with all the
benefits and privileges and you know uh
his blessings he gave us so i figured out and i had already had
faith before i came into politics and i came into politics because i had
faith and because i faith i realized that i was so blessed that i had a responsibility to the
society so i wanted to make pakistan an islamic welfare state
based on the concept of the state of madina by a prophet peace be upon him
and i also you know looked at his struggle you know he's
the almighty made him struggle for 13 years so i figured out that you know
uh if if he could make his uh you know the person he loved the
most to struggle then and we were told to follow his way his sunnah
so so i that's how i did it because i did not think
that i was going to make any you know any personal gains or
some benefits of power i came in because i thought we should make pakistan
make the state on the principles of the state of madina and i always believe one thing that you
know despite all the difficulties and adversaries
and disappointments i believe that you know we human beings only have
god has only given us the power to struggle whether we succeed or not is not in our
hands as was shown by you know the life of our prophet because for 13 years
he struggled and they were a very tough struggle and then when he
did the hijra to madina he didn't know that it would be the beginning of his rise and even then in
madina for first five years it was a real struggle so therefore you know for me it was just
a struggle and i uh and i have this ideal that we want to have this country based
on two principles one is it should be a welfare state a humane state
which takes care of its bottom uh uh start of the society and secondly rule
of law the fundamental [Music] uh principle of a civilized society
is where you bring the powerful under the law and which is the biggest problem in the developing countries because we don't
have rule of law powerful have one law and the and the weak are judged by another law
so the jails are all filled by the poor people the rich crooks never get into jails so
so these two concepts are the basis of what my struggle is about for pakistan i
don't think that's just a problem in the developing countries unfortunately uh a lot of people that should be in jail in
in the uh in europe and america are not in jail so i think that that seems to be a a major
problem i you know in just in coming to uh uh winding it down i
you know i think it seems to me that you've taken on an incredible challenge
and uh it's very inspiring and i think a lot of muslims i know a lot of muslims here
are inspired by it the one of the most successful communities in uh in the united states
is the pakistani community in diaspora and in fact the college that i'm running
in right now that i'm in is largely here because of of pakistani immigrants to
america i mean we've we've had the the real backbone of our support has been from south asians from
largely pakistani but also indian and arab and and other groups and it's the
pakistani community here is is a very successful community and there's a very interesting book it
was it was somewhat controversial when it came out but i actually found it very uh
eye-opening and it was a book by these two harvard researchers it was called the triple package i don't know if you
ever saw the book but it looked at the it looked at the most successful
communities in the united states and one of them was the pakistani community that they looked at and they identified three
qualities of their success that's what they called the triple package
and the first one was they had a sense of superiority which which i thought was very
interesting and it wasn't so much in an arrogant type of way but they really saw themselves somehow as exceptional and
they said that that view could be a religious exceptionalism like the jewish community
like a chosenness or it could be ethnic or national
and but the second quality that they identified was a sense of insecurity
that they had something really to prove and that it created a kind of tension
that forced them to really work harder than the other people because they wanted to show that they
were worthy of that exceptional status and then the third quality that they identified was delayed gratification
that they were able to put off and and that gets back to what you were talking about about discipline because certainly
i i know that anybody that becomes a world-class athlete delays gratification they have to
because of of the of the type of discipline and effort it takes and so
those were the three but what struck me about that is i really felt that the quran in some ways
was a triple package book because on the one hand it says things like you know that kuntum
you're the best community that's come forth for humanity and then on the other hand it says
things like you were created from a vile fluid you know that uh the human being is is
is of earth you know the prophet saw isaiah said kulukum all of you are from adam and adam is
from dust he said i was commanded to be humble so that nobody could show arrogance towards
another person and then the third thing was this delayed gratification
which the quran in so many verses tells us to put off
for for what's uh coming you know that that not to to take things now so i feel
those three things the restoration of that um in in your country i think
it seems to me that you yourself display those qualities and and how we
can restore that in the greater community seems to be the challenge that we face you see
i feel that in pakistan this country has tremendous potential
people are immensely talented they're quite diverse we have a very diverse mix of
ethnic groups in pakistan very talented problem is you know we haven't you know
if i look back why we haven't achieved our potential it's one you know one sentence rule of law
we have you know we have had elite capture so a society where a certain elite just
captures the resources and deprives the majority of proper education
healthcare justice and so
you know if i had to put my finger on it it's a lack of rule of law is the reason why we
haven't achieved our potential and i i actually am convinced that no society
no society can ever achieve its potential if there is not rule of law because
merit is also associated with rule of law and if you do not have meritocracy in a
society you have this elite which is which which is spoiled
which is rich which has captured the resources which doesn't struggle and strive they sit on the main positions
they decay so countries uh disintegrate because of a decadent elite
people don't decay it's the elite that decays and what our prophet showed
in in madina was that you know he brought in a very a selfless
an elite which looked upon him as a role model all of them became leaders and they just lifted the
character of the entire nation and and the and the potential unleash the potential because all of us have
tremendous potential but we we have imposed chains on us
which stops us from achieving the potential our great poet iqbal
he was you know our greatest poet of this last century
you know he or he came up with the concept of the shaheen the eagle that eagle
flies soars above the rest because it breaks the shackles which
keeps others grounded and and all these shackles of materialism these false gods
of power and you know all these things that keep us grounded and
basically that's what happened when the when the prophet uh set up the state of madina he unleashed the potential of
these people who were nothing before and all became you know the leaders of the world
so i believe pakistan is in the same situation we have this
people have great potential they go outside pakistan they have a level playing field they excel
but in this country it's a a system does not allow them as i said this elite
capture whether whether education quality education is only for a small
maybe one percent one and a half percent the rest do not have access to it and similarly you know they don't have
opportunities uh don't have level playing field so
what i feel is that by two things by by and this is the struggle going on
right now in pakistan but winning the struggle will unleash the potential of this country and secondly
to lift the people out of poverty so we've in our in in the country's history we've
we've uh started the greatest welfare plans uh programs ever in our history we
we are spending most money on on the bottom people to sort of raise their levels so this is basically my ambition
and i feel that if i can just uh do these two things
lift people out of poverty um create wealth so that you know you can spread it around and
break the monopoly of this elite there's these mafias i feel this country
you know i i i always believed it had great potential it's a great vision and
i really uh pray that uh that you have toffee
in in that in realizing that i i there's a novel that was
um that was written here and i think they made a film out of it called the reluctant fundamentalist about a
pakistani who had a bad experience in america and when and when he he go he ends up going back to pakistan and being
a teacher but one of the things that he said in in in a class to his students that in america they have this thing
called the american dream and then he asked the question of what's the pakistani dream and i think
you've articulated a very powerful pakistani dream that inshallah i really
hope that it's realized in your lifetime that you see the fruit of the labor and it seems to me to be a
struggle against arrogance and haughtiness um because people that see themselves as
above the law are arrogant people um yeah and so i think pride is definitely
uh that negative guru is is what we're up against and what we have to fight in ourselves and then in
in in the soc