Interview with Sheikh Hamza Yusuf


Since Islam and violence seem to be a popular topic for interreligious dialogue, I thought it might be good to get back to the root sources of Islam by posting an interview with an American Sheikh.

Here are some highlights from his comments on Islam and questions about violence in Islam:

Frank Gardner:
But who’s innocent? Because al-Qaeda would say - and I’m not in any way trying to justify their actions - but al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and those around him, would say that they have a God-given right to defend Muslims - that all their actions are merely in defence of they faith - that’s what they would say. Now to most people, those who died on 9/ll were completely innocent people - to al-Qaeda they are a part of a guilty party - that’s their view. How would you answer that?

Hamza Yusuf:
Well I would say first that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said in a very clear Hadith which is considered multiply transmitted - which means that it’s at the same level of the Koran - it’s prohibited to kill women and children in warfare. So I’m sorry the taking of lives of women and children is prohibited and that’s been accepted practise by Muslims. Muslims are chivalrous. All of what’s going on now is resentment - it’s the slave morality that Nietzche described the modern age as being engrossed in - it’s the morality of people that have lost the sense of human dignity. One of the things about the Koran is it’s very clear that when tribulations happen to you, the first thing that you have to do is rectify yourselves. That’s very clear in the Koran [Arabic] - when you were afflicted by a calamity you had afflicted the like of it on others before - you said where did this come from - say it’s from your own selves.

That’s basically the Koran doctrine and to reject that and to begin to see these people as some kind of demons - they’re bad therefore we are good - this is what’s going to destroy the world. We’ve got idiots in the West that are claiming that the Muslims are demons and then we have idiots in the Muslim that are claiming the West are demons. I’m sorry, human beings each one of us has within us good and evil.

And my favorite:

Frank Gardner:
To return to the central theme of this discussion that we’re having Sheikh Hamza, do you think that the violence which is carried out in the name of Islamist extremism is essentially secular in nature?

Hamza Yusuf:
I think it’s secular - you know terrorism to jihad is what adultery is to marriage.


My favourite is where he places a Hadith on the same level as the Koran!

For anyone else interested, there’s a thought-provoking article on this Moslem convert and apologist at


Are you implying that you know how to interpret Islamic sources and judge their weight better than a Sheikh?

For anyone else interested, there’s a thought-provoking article on this Moslem convert and apologist at

It provoked this thought: Who is Daniel Pipes, and what makes his views on Islam relevant to a Muslim’s view?


I know that in Islam you deem the Koran to be above all other books, the works of man.

Are you now going to tell me that Muhammad and his followers were the equal of al-lah?

Is this Sheikh infallible?

Here’s some Islamic opinion on the Koran and Hadith

Some might say that the Haddiths are not perfect, but that’s only when compared with the Koran… “The point is not that Hadith is an unreliable source of information. On the contrary, Hadith lacks the level of reliability which is entailed in the basic sources of the Shari`ah. In other words, it is only when compared to the Qur’an and the Sunnah that Hadith seems wanting in reliability. Nevertheless, if one were to compare Hadith with, for instance, sources of other histories, it would easily surpass the reliability of the sources of other histories on all accounts. This is only due to the strenuous work done by the scholars of Hadith in this field of study.”

So the Hadith is great, but no where near the Koran. Except, of course, according to you ‘expert’. It’s always been my understanding that any verse in the Koran trumps any verse of Hadith.

What do you care? Your argument is self-refuting. You’re asking for my opinion about something you also argue that (as a non-Moslem) I’m not able to comment on.

You’re in effect now saying…
I want you who has no right to comment, comment on something you’ve no right to comment on!
In fact with such an attitude your whole thread becomes one of monologue. Only you are qualified (or other Moslems) and any contrary opinion is just to be disregarded. Only your opinion is to be accepted. Any disagreement of Islam must ipso facto be ruled out because it disagrees with Islam (and therefore it deemed to be false) True Islam!


I like Sheikh Hamza Yusuf. I think he is a good voice for Islam in the West.
I think Mr. Pipes’ ‘test’ is not fair. For instance, “Do you accept the validity of other religions?” is one of the questions. It’s vague. Do I as a Catholic accept the ‘validity’ of Hinduism? I don’t think Hinduism is ‘valid’. I think someone’s right to be Hindu is ‘valid’ but no I don’t think Hinduism is ‘valid’. Does that then make me a radical?

Anyway, I’ve watched several video clips of Sheikh Yusuf on youtube, and I think he is a good man.


if Muslims are not in favor of Bin Laden’s terrorism…I rarely hear news about muslims hunting Bin Laden’s group…


but they are… the briefest Google search reveals these stories. If you want to find more, they are out there.

Without elaborating, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said on Saturday he was “200 percent” certain Rabia, the operations chief of the al Qaeda terrorist network, was killed Wednesday.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) – Pakistan says it has captured a high-level al Qaeda suspect in a stand-off involving hundreds of police.

Mohsen al-Fadli
Described by U.S. officials as a senior Kuwaiti member of al-Qaida and the network’s senior leader for the Persian Gulf, al-Fadli, 21, was arrested by Kuwaiti security forces in November 2002, who said the apprehension foiled a plot to blow up a hotel in Yemen used by Americans. He was sentenced to five years in prison by a Kuwaiti court in February 2003 for “joining the military forces of a foreign country which endangered Kuwait’s political ties.”


That’s very interesting. Especially the part about the need to rectify oneself before taking action. In General are the Islamic leaders America considered to be the “norm” for Islam or do they represent a minority view in the Islamic world. For example, would most muslims in India or Indonesia agree with these beliefs?


And I rarely hear news about Bush taking steps to hunt Bin Laden.


Sheikh Hamza Yusuf is in a unique position which, I’m sure, other sheikhs haven’t been in before. For one, he’s a revert from a Greek Orthodox family - so, I personally doubt that he’ll slander *any *religion to justify his own, much less Christianity (even though he had his own reasons for leaving). Secondly, as a revert, he’s wonderfully-gifted intellectually both in the Islamic sources and in the philosophy of the West. Due to such, his talks, lectures, and other commentary often tend to rectify these seemingly juxtaposed philosophies. As strong an advocate as Hamza Yusuf is for Muslim education and Muslim rights, he doesn’t step on any toes to get there. There should be more Muslims **and **Christians **and **Jews like him.


In general I agree with Ella that Pipes “test” isn’t fair. Despite Pipes lumping him in with extremists or radicals I think it’s pretty clear that Hamza Yusef and the others at Zaytuna Institute are voices of reason in Islam. To read more go here - - especually read the articles on Jihad by Jackson and by Shakir and the one by Yusef on Religion, Violence, and the Modern World.


As far as I can tell, he is in the mainstream for conservative Islamic figures worldwide. Most of them want to topple their own corrupt governments in favor of democratic or at least somewhat transparent bureaucratic governments. They view corruption in governments in their own countries and oppression of their own as the root causes of the problems Muslims face today.

IIRC, Yusuf was expelled from Algeria for advocating just that sort of thing.


I fear no Moslem, which is more than I can say for some Protestants. No Moslem has ever tried to hurt me or destroy my family. Therefore, I can identify with Islam more readily than I can the Christianity of some Protestants.

I ask my Moslem brothers and sisters for forgiveness for Christian arrogance. It my friends is not from Christ, I assure you


Are you saying Protestants have tried to destroy your family? where do you live?


Wasn’t this the same Sheikh that the FBI investigated for aiding a terrorist charity? And he sure did fail the Pipes test.

Sixtus, Muslims would kill you that makes them a far greater threat. They have attacked our Pope and threatened him with death. And they mean it. Protestants are no threat in comparison.


I think I’ve personally met more people who would harm me then later claim to be Protestant Christian than I have Muslims who would ever harm me, period.


Radical? Only if you want them slaughtered. Islam does


Do you think that the Hadith are equal to the Koran?


Well, the Sheikh says otherwise.

Do you speak for “islam” more officially than he does? Or with a greater understanding of the teachings?

Or are you calling Sheikh Yusuf a liar?


Are you a Moslem? That might seem to clear up things.

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