What Conservatism Really Means - Roger Scruton in Conversation with Hamza Yusuf

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Event Name: What Conservatism Really Means - Roger Scruton in Conversation with Hamza Yusuf
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 3/29/2019 8:41:10 PM
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high place you know and Ezra Pound has a

wonderful statement he says that I he

said I don't know what power exploded in

the seventh century of Arabia that

spread to the libraries of cordoba but I

got a glimpse of it in the way the more

walked in 1913 in Tangier and and and to

me there's I loved so much about the

Muslim world and there's so many things

that I see in the Muslim world that that

when I come back to the west I I really

get a bit depressed yeah what are you

you're talking about piety and its

widest sense exactly a sense that your

gestures your words your way of being

towards others all fit into a kind of a

pattern which is not just you but also

is informed by courtesy as well as

obedience and I just saw so many

examples of that yeah I'll give I'll

give you just one I was we were on a

trip in the Sahara and our in our car

got stuck and and we had to seek refuge

in a in a Bedouin there was some Bedouin

staying there and it was incredibly

windy night and they literally

sacrificed a lamb for us they cooked it

they fed us and and and these are

incredibly poor people and and then we

went to sleep and and because there was

so much wind the man was holding up the

the central pillar of the tent so they

didn't collapse when we woke up about

four hours later he was still there

holding it and and and I was with an

Englishman who just said to me did he

stay up the whole night do it and I said

yeah he did and and I just saw so many

examples of that and that's of course is

that that Bedouin hospitality that the

sense that the stranger is more

important than you that is something

which is it not only is Lama his part of

the desert way of life

no I agree and I think many traditional

I would say I would argue that if you go

to Mexican villages you're very similar

and it's something about traditional

cultures right this breeze that but I

think Islam definitely inculcates that

in its followers when it's practiced

properly now as to your question what

happened I think the same could be asked

about the West because I mean if I look

at what's happened to family if I look

at at the fact that pornography is is

the main entertainment medium now in in

the West I mean it's quite incredible

the the industry of which you and I are

very familiar with just from that that

what we happened to be a part of it the

Witherspoon but I think two things

happened that that are tragic in the

Islamic tradition one is somebody like

Al Farabi who was ignored or Aveiro is

is another example of that that the the

the influence of a kind of eastern

despotism which was actually very alien

to the Arabs the Arabs were far more

democratic so the prophets Eliza damned

I mean there's a chapter in the Quran

called Shora

chapter 42 which is mutual consultation

and and and so the idea of having a type

of parliamentarian government would have

been very natural to the Arabs because

that's the way they tended to it was

more like a thei nian democracy in a lot

of ways in fact when I took my teacher

share Abdullah bin baya to the

Parliament in England he was very struck

by the House of Lords he really liked

the idea of having what in in in the

Arabic version are called a little

Hollywood happened the people that can

unravel and and put back together again

and these are like notables in a culture

that have a lot of life experience and

so they have a wisdom that they can help

guide a society he was very struck by

that but but he he and this is something

you bring up I mean he felt that a

parliamentarian government would be

perfectly consonant with an Islamic now

way of ruling that there isn't really

any fixed type of Islamic rule and I

think what happened in the Muslim world

is despotism a kind of of an Eastern

despotism became a model and and I think

it really stifled a lot of the

incredible intellectual and spiritual

growth that occurred in the early part

of the song it was also the collapse of

the Ottoman Empire wasn't it the well I

mean that was a huge yeah yeah which led

to the new kind of kind of criminal

apparatus that advanced through the bath

party and things like that take out take

over this ripe fruit and but yes I mean

politically obviously things went

terribly wrong but what was always

concerned me is the cultural aspect

where where is that you know what has

happened to the the great universities

and where do we find a proper articulate

discussions in literary form and all the

things that actually and the Islamic

civilization really needs I mean well

that's what we're trying to do here yes

we and and I think there are people

within the Muslim culture I mean I have

friends in in Turkey that are trying to

do the same thing and I and and they're

there are attempts but again if you if

you look at at the the Muslim world has

been hard hit for several hundred years

I mean there's been a continued there's

an argument now among certain

Orientalist tradition about that there

wasn't a kind of stagnation or

ossification which I think to me is

absurd I mean I can clearly see that

that the the incredible interest in

science and technology in in in early

Islam was amazing and and I mean if

there was a Nobel Prize a thousand years

ago it's been said every name on the

list would have been Muslim so so that's

something that I think we as a as a

religious tradition and Ummah that we

have to think deeply about and

and I think it's very important I mean

we called our journal Renovatio or tis

deed in Arabic which is to make new

again to renovate the idea and this is I

think a very conservative idea the idea

that the house is there and instead of

tearing it down and rebuilding a house

if it's a beautiful house with with with

a solid foundation we need to renovate

it to make it new again absolutely

well it's that's the same task that we

have in the West but of course there is

we have the freedom to do it that's the

important thing that many people worry

about about the Muslim world do people

have the freedom to do what do you want

to do well I think you're certainly

doing your role in in promoting the idea

of conserving the best of the past my

last question to you one of the things

that troubles me most about a lot of

attacks on conservativism is the idea

that the best of progressivism like the

elimination of slavery the the the the

idea of getting rid of racism as you

know the this this idea of somehow that

there can be ethnically Pirie or 'ti of

one people over now I believe that there

there are civilizational aspects that

are certainly I think I would much

rather have freedom in than despotism

and this idea that we can relativize

these type things is wrong but the idea

that one group of people is better than

another group is a very audience idea I

think to anybody that has thought deeply

about that problem but this idea that

conservativism is conserving the worst

of the past as opposed to the best and

and is not also acknowledging the idea

that there are things that have to

change and then it becomes what are the

strategies to bring about that change

that that are going to go I would say as

I understand it of course human beings

are imperfect that's the whole reason

why they need institutions in order to

mediate between them and overcome

conflict without violence you know

but we have inherited those sort of

institutions institutions that enable us

to rectify problems and make things

better we're never going to make them

perfect but that's why we what we should

be conserving there is procedures the

things that that enable us to relate to

each other in a humane and civilized way

and that's that for me is what it's all


all right well on that note I want to

thank you just for coming out and

gracing us with your intelligence and

and and you've been supporting our our

work with the journal the Renovatio I

hope you're some of the people that

enjoy reading yours will also benefit

from from our journal I surely will yeah

maybe you could give a little plug yeah

I will definitely I think cytuno is one

of the points of hope in the world in

which we live now well thank you all

right well god bless you and and thank

you and I'm going to look forward to a

continued discussion




From <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iawSzFZg-vw>