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January 9th, 2015

Reform in Islam to come from within

Submitted by Yahya.

The economist has an interesting article on reform in Islam:

I commented as below (buried in 4 pages of comments to this economist article):

"Look, for example, at the personally courageous stance of Hamza Yusuf, an American-born scholar with a wide following in the Islamic heart-land"

Ah where was the courage of Hamza Yusuf when he backtracked and apostasized the Lahori Ahmadis and removed his youtube of half hearted praise.

Courage is exhibited when a scholar upholds principles that can be deeply unpopular at the time.   Hamza Yusuf did not pass this test.

Could I ask Zahid Aziz and other readers to maybe comment as to what is courage in the Islamic context and how muslims today can exhibit courage in the face of terrorism and extremism we are now being confronted with.

13 Responses to “Reform in Islam to come from within”

  1. January 9th, 2015 at 9:51 pm
    From Zahid Aziz:

    Thank you Yahya for supplying the current link to Hamza Yusuf's article. The link to it which I originally included in my reply of October 2012 had stopped working. I have now changed it to this one.

    Your question about "courage in the Islamic context" brought to mind the following verses of the Holy Quran:

    3:172: Those who responded to the call of Allah and the Messen­ger after the misfortune had befallen them — for such among them who do good and keep their duty is a great reward.

    3:173 Those to whom people said: Surely men have gathered against you, so fear them; but this increased their faith, and they said: Allah is sufficient for us and He is an excellent Guardian.

    3:174 So they returned with favour from Allah and (His) grace; no evil touched them, and they followed the pleasure of Allah. And Allah is the Lord of mighty grace.

    3:175  It is the devil who only frightens his friends, but do not fear them, and fear Me, if you are believers.

    The persons mentioned here upheld the principles taught by Allah and His Messenger (i.e., they responded to the call of Allah and the Messenger). They did not fear the men who had gathered against them, but believed Allah to be sufficient for them. Therefore the feared evil did not touch them. Anyone who frightens you by warning you that "men have gathered against you, so fear them" is acting on behalf of the devil.

  2. After reading the excellent reply of Zahid Aziz to the retraction of Hamza Yusuf, a few points came to my mind.

    Hamza Yusuf wrote – “I sincerely thank those many people who defended my honor.” This he stated while he was ‘wrong’ and had approved of the Lahoris (which he later retracted). Assumption can thus be made for Hamza Yusuf that his honor is not in what he stood for, but his honor was for him as a person. Later, by his own admission, he corrected his ‘mistake’ and he matched up to that honor which his defenders had for him.

    This is diametrically opposite of the example of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Prophet’s honor was challenged when he was on the right. With passage of time, those initially ostracizing him later came over to his side.

    Throughout his retraction, he stays clear of quoting Quran in his takfir of Lahoris and tries to be either an echo box of others or relies on the ijma, to count Lahoris as kafirs. This hollowness of faith is actually a reproduction of Talmud in the shell of Islam, where it is others who can declare someone as apostate, not Quran.

    When Hamza Yusuf makes an appeal to his naysayers “…I request that my statements about the Lahoris be removed from the Internet, as I am not qualified to have an opinion about the matter and cannot make takfir of a group or individual on my own, as that is a judicial responsibility in Islam,” he essentially is advocating polemics of Talmudic doctrine, which is reproduced below from Jewish Virtual Library:

    The spirit of the Talmudic process is expressed in a tale in tractate Baba Meziah. Rabbi Eliezer, a proponent of unchanging tradition–"a well-lined cistern that doesn't lose a drop," as his teacher characterized him–was engaged in a legal disputation with his colleagues. "He brought all the reasons in the world," but the majority would not accept his view. Said Rabbi Eliezer, "If the law is as I hold it to be, let this tree prove it," and the tree uprooted itself a hundred amma, but they said, "Proof cannot be brought from a tree." Rabbi Eliezer persisted, saying, "Let these waters determine it," and the waters began to flow backwards, but his colleagues responded that waters cannot determine the law. Once again Rabbi Eliezer tried, asking the walls of the study house to support him. They began to totter, whereupon the spokesman for the majority, Rabbi Joshua, admonished them, "when rabbis are engaged in legal discussion what right have ye to interfere!" So the walls did not fall in respect for Rabbi Joshua, nor did they return to their upright position, in respect for Rabbi Eliezer-and "they remain thus to this day!" But Rabbi Eliezer would not surrender and cried out: "Let Heaven decide." A voice was heard from Heaven saying: "Why do ye dispute with Rabbi Eliezer; the law is always as he says it to be." Whereupon Rabbi Joshua arose and proclaimed, quoting Scripture, "It is not in Heaven!" Rabbi Jeremiah explained, "The Law was given at Sinai and we no longer give heed to heavenly voices, for in that Law it is stated: 'One follows the majority."' God's truth, divine law, is not determined by miracles or heavenly voices, but by the collegium of rabbis, men learned in the law, committed to the law and expert in its application to the life of the pious community.

    Such an attitude alone, negating the authority of the miraculous and heavenly voices, would have been sufficient to make the Talmud anathema to medieval churchmen, devoted as they were to the miraculous and to the divine reordering of the validity of the law. But there was more, of course. The Talmud is so vast a work, containing such a variety of views and assertions, that one can find statements that are extravagant, hyperbolic, even theologically outrageous, if taken literally. [Link:]

    This is how far the pulpit of Hamza Yusuf goes, it is Talmud or bust.

    The dilemma of Hamza Yusuf is in his own words – “I now receive letters and emails requesting that I talk to Muslim youth who no longer identify with our faith. Sadly, harsh-hearted haters among our community are driving people from the mosques and making the most beautiful teaching in the world appear ugly.” No wonder the Muslim youth is either turning away from ijma that Hamza Yusuf relies upon for his takfir, or is it that the youth are now creating a new ijma of their own to achieve some sensibility?

    While discussing takfir he quotes – Taqi al-Din al-Subki was once asked if one should declare extreme innovators disbelievers (takfir ghulat al-mubtadi’ah), to which he replied:

    Absolutely not! Know this, questioner! Anyone who fears God, the Exalted, will deem it an enormity to accuse someone who says, “La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasulullah” of being a disbeliever…

    The above quote fully validates Maulana Muhammad Ali while invalidates Hamza Yusuf’s own allegation of takfir against him:

    My understanding of this issue came from people I trust, not to mention Al-Azhar University’s approval of Muhammad Ali’s[3] Religion of Islam as well as his insistence in the introduction to his Qur’an translation that he was a Muslim who accepted the finality of the Prophet Muhammad

    Footnote [3] Muhammad Ali (1874–1951) was the most prolific student of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and split with the Qadianis in 1914 over the issues of the succession and the claim to prophecy of Ghulam Ahmad, which Muhammad Ali argued was an addition by his son Bashiruddin and not part of the original teachings of Ghulam Ahmad. Muhammad Ali is considered the founder of the Lahori branch of the Ahmadiyyas.

  3. Mr. David Hanson, father of Hamza Yusuf, passed away on Saturday April 16th, 2016. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un – “Surely we are Allah’s, and to Him we shall return”*. The following is a statement from Hamza Yusuf on the death of his father that was forwarded by a local mosque in their mass email:

    My father, David Hanson, passed away at 8:00 p.m. on the 16th of April, 2016 at the age of 89. He left the world in a good state. He was born into great wealth and advantage, and was afforded an excellent education. At the age of 17, he volunteered to join the Air Force at the height of World War II and served for four years.

    He was a good father, and the single most well-read person in the Western canon I have ever met. The Huntington Library gave him a small cubicle, where he carried on his work on Elizabethan manuscripts. My last conversations with him were about the Liberal Arts, of which he was a life-long student. He lived with me on and off for the last few years and remained independent until the last few weeks of his life.

    During his stay with us, he always joined in prayer with my family. A few weeks ago, he said the shahadah with his physician, Dr. Asad Tarsin, and requested that he be buried as a Muslim. I washed his body with my son and two close friends yesterday. We will bury him this morning. I want to thank everyone who has extended condolences to me and my family. I would ask simply for a prayer for his salvation.

    Thank you.

    Hamza Yusuf Hanson

    Comment: I as a reader of the above statement and according to wishes of Hamza Yusuf pray for a blissful abode for his late father, Amen. I hope that with this personal loss Hamza Yusuf must have learnt firsthand of the standard which makes a Muslim that is none other than the declaration of Shahada i.e. Ashhadu an la ilaha illa-llah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadun Aabduhu wa rasuluh. – "I bear witness that there is no Allah [i.e. God] but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s servant and His Messenger.”

    Similar to late Mr. David Hanson, there is Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and hundreds of thousands belonging to Islam and HMGA’s fraternity, including late Maulana Muhammad Ali, who had and continue to declare Shahadaon a daily basis and want to be buried as Muslims after their death. Will Hamza Yusuf hold all declarers ofShahada at par or will he make exceptions under the guise of Ijma. The purpose of writing this post is not to score points but to further the message of Quran which admonishes against double standards:

    83:1-6. Woe to the cheaters [i.e. defaulters], who, when they take the measure (of their dues) from people, take it fully [i.e. accept according to their own standard of logic], but when they measure out to others or weigh out for them, they give less than is due! [i.e. according to different standard from what they received] Do they not think that they will be raised again, to a mighty day? — the day when mankind will stand before the Lord of the worlds.*

    *[translation by Maulana Muhammad Ali and Dr. Zahid Aziz. Note: comments in parenthesis are inserted by this writer]

  4. May 9th, 2016 at 6:05 am
    From Zahid Aziz:

    Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un. I join in the prayer by Ikram and express my sympathy and condolences to Hamza Yusuf. May Allah have mercy on the soul of David Hanson and grant him maghfirat (forgiveness), and grant patience to all the bereaved, ameen.

  5. June 10th, 2016 at 5:21 am
    From Rashid Jahangiri:

    Hamza Yusuf Leading Funeral of a Person Who Named Himself after Maulana Muhammad Ali.

    It is a known fact that Muhammad Ali boxer had great admiration for elders of Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement. He read Maulana Muhammad Ali English translation and commentary of Holy Quran, and then took his name. And Hamza Yusuf does NOT think Maulana Muhammad Ali was a Muslim. An extreme example of bigotry.

  6. June 10th, 2016 at 2:38 pm
    From Mohammed Iqbal:

    Did Muhammad Ali choose his own name? I thought it was Elijah Muhammad who gave him his name.


  7. Rashid Sahib has a wild imagination. This is backed by a lot of evidence from his numerous posts on this blog. Mualana Muhammad Ali was not even the most famous Maulana Muhammad Ali of his era. Muhammad Ali is a very common name.

    I know a few 'Qadiani' Ahmadis named Muhamad Ali who would strongly object to any association with the Lahori Maulana Muhammad Ali.

    Kudos to Muhammad Iqbal sahib for correctly pointing out Elijah Muhammad named him.

  8. June 28th, 2016 at 3:37 am
    From Zahid Aziz:

    Maulana S.M. Tufail told me in the 1970s that the boxer Muhammad Ali's secretary confirmed that he was named after our Maulana Muhammad Ali. Elijah Muhammad's movement used Maulana Muhammad Ali's translation of the Quran.

    Maulana Tufail was also involved in arranging the visit of Waris (Wallace) Deen Muhammad, son and successor of Elijah Muhammad, to Lahore in 1976 to meet members of our Jamaat, visit our Centre and pay tribute to its work. Want to see a photo published around the time, Saad sahib? Click here.

    On that visit Waris Deen Muhamamd also went to visit my maternal grandfather, Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi, at his house to express appreciation of his book 'Muhammad in World Scriptures'. I knew about it at the time (or may be according to Saad sahib it was my "wild imagination" as to what happened in my grandfather's house during my lifetime).

    Saad sahib says Maulana Muhammad Ali was not even the most famous Maulana Muhammad Ali of the era, and he gives a link to the Wikipedia entry about Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar. But if you go to that link, it says right at the top: "Not to be confused with Muhammad Ali (writer), also known as Maulana Muhammad Ali." This means people are at risk of thinking that Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar was the other Maulana Muhammad Ali! Why would that risk arise if our Maulana Muhammad Ali was an unknown figure compared to Jauhar sahib?

    And if you want to know what Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar thought of our Maulana Muhammad Ali, just go to this link.

    If that long letter by him is not enough (and it won't be enough for a Qadiani Jamaat propagandist like Saad sahib), I may quote what Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar wrote in his English autobiography about this:

    “It was about this time (December 1918) that a kind friend sent to us a gift than which nothing could be more acceptable, a copy of the Quran for my brother and one for myself … with an austerely faithful translation in English and copious footnotes based on a close study of commentaries of the Quran and of such Biblical literature as could throw light upon the latest Holy Writ. This was the work of my learned namesake, Maulavi Muhammad Ali of Lahore, leader of a fairly numerous religious community, some of whose members were doing missionary work in England. … The translation and the notes which supplied the antidote so greatly needed for the poison squirted in the footnotes of English translators of the Quran like Sale, Rodwell and Palmer, the fine printing, both English and Arabic, the India paper and the exquisite binding in green limp Morocco with characteristic Oriental Tughra or ornamental calligraphy in gold, all demonstrated the labour of love and devoted zeal that so many willing workers had obviously contributed. This beautiful book acted like the maddening music of the Sarod, according to the Persian proverb, on the mentally deranged, and in the frame of mind in which I then was I wrote back to my friend who had sent these copies of the Quran that nothing would please me better than to go to Europe as soon as I could get out of the ‘bounds’ prescribed by my internment and preach to these war maniacs from every park and at every street corner, if not within the dubious precincts of every public house, about a faith that was meant to silence all this clamour of warring nations in the one unifying peace of Islam.”

    (My Life — A Fragment, edited by Afzal Iqbal, published by Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore, 1966 reprint, p. 115)


  9. June 29th, 2016 at 7:15 am
    From Rashid Jahangiri:

    Was boxer Muhammad Ali named after Maulana Muhammad Ali?


    I had heard for a long time in casual conversations among LAM members (almost all of whom have deceased) that boxer Muhammad Ali was named after Maulana Muhammad Ali by Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. Please remember it was Maulana Muhammad Ali's English translation and commentary of Holy Quran that Elijah Muhammad received from Fard Muhammad in prison. I was thinking of reading boxer Muhammad Ali's biography, to find some documented reference to his name change. Well I am glad Dr. Zahid Aziz has given his testimony that does tell us after whom boxer was named.

    A little google search got me to: “This bold public persona belied what was happening in Ali's personal life, however. He was doing some spiritual searching and decided to join the black Muslim group the Nation of Islam in 1964. At first he called himself "Cassius X" before settling on the name Muhammad Ali. (The boxer eventually converted to orthodox Islam during the 1970s.)”.

    If you watch video on following link at 58 seconds you will hear narrator stating that it was Elijah Muhammad who changed boxer’s name. Remember whose Holy Quran translation Elijah received.

  10. June 29th, 2016 at 7:37 pm
    From Abdul Momin:

    In 1974, I saw a picture of Muhammad Ali With Tufail Sahib in a booklet. I asked Tufail Sahib who was sitting next to me during the annual jalsa, when this picture had been taken. He replied that it was some time ago.

  11. June 30th, 2016 at 4:03 pm
    From Mohammed Iqbal:

    Well, even if he was named after Maulana Muhammad Ali, he didn't do it himself. It was Elijah Muahammad who did it. That was my point.


  12. July 2nd, 2016 at 3:49 am
    From Zahid Aziz:

    My respected friend and elder, Mr Sh. Khalid Iqbal, brother of Maulana Sh. M. Tufail, informs me that the Maulana, as Imam of the Woking Mosque, went to New York in May 1964 where he met Elijah Muhammad and visited the centres of his group. He says this visit was well reported in various newspapers in New York and in Urdu UK newspapers such as Mushriq Weekly.

    He may be able to find something further in his old records.

    Muhammad Ali's change of name had been announced before this in March 1964.

  13. January 3rd, 2018 at 5:00 am
    From Rashid Jahangiri:

    First few minutes of following video gives another evidence that Muhammad Ali boxer was named after Maulana Muhammad Ali by Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad after Maulana Muhammad Ali.  

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