Religious Freedom: Why Now? (Discussion between Robert P. George and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf)

– You know, often when my friends learn of my friendship with Hamza,
and our collaboration together, I’ll say a little bit about that, before we begin our conversation. People will say something like, well isn’t it great, he’s
terrific, isn’t it great that he’s such a good influence in the
Muslim American Community. Well, yes, it’s great that
he’s a great influence in the Muslim American
community, as Rabbi Sacks is a great influence in
the Jewish community, and Richard Newhouse was
such a great influence in the Christian community. But like Rabbi Sacks, and
like Richard John Newhouse, Humza is a person who
transcends his own tradition. From whom, Christians and Jews, and not just Muslims, can learn. I want Humza to have an
even greater influence, not just in the Islamic
community, but in America, among Christians, and Jews,
people of every faith, and even those of no faith at all. So that’s why it’s such a
very special honor for me, Humza says equals, no. With Humza, I really
feel, as with Richard, or when I’m with Rabbi Sacks, like I’m in the presence of greatness. Humza and I have been able to
work together on some projects and I hope we’ll work
together on many more. We met, I think, Humza can
correct me if I’m wrong. We met when we got together
at a very important conference that was hosted by the
Witherspoon Institute, on the social costs of pornography. For several generations now, it has been fashionable,
to say, and widely accepted, if not believed,
if you catch my drift, that pornography, if it’s a vice at all, is a private vice. Not a vice that the public
should be concerned about. But it turns out, that pornography exacts from
us, enormous social costs. And so, Humza and I found
ourselves gathered together, with psychologists, and psychiatrists. With counselors, with
people who deal every day with the carnage left in the wake of the massive pornography
industry, that we now have in this country, and more broadly. And Humza gave, on that
occasion, a remarkable, amazing speech, a philosophical speech, making a philosophical contribution. Yes, from an Islamic point
of view, as he should. But one that had lessons in
it for me, as a Christian, for our Jewish participants,
for every single soul who was there. For our psychiatrists,
and our psychologists. We have so much to learn from each other. And listening to Humza,
is the evidence for me, of how much we have to
learn from the great minds, the great thinkers in
the Muslim community. Then a couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of inviting Humza, and he accepted our
invitation, to come and speak at our annual Respect Life Sunday Service, in the Princeton University Chapel, the magnificent Princeton
University Chapel. Princeton was founded by Presbyterians, but they must have been pretty
high church Presbyterians. You’ve seen our chapel, it
looks like a great European Cathedral. For the the past almost
decade, we’ve been recognizing, observing a Respect Life Sunday, and a major Interfaith
Service in the chapel. Humza was our first Muslim
speaker, at one of our services. He has now been, there’s
now a succession of them, including the great Suzy Ismail,
who gave a wonderful speech at our Respect Life
Sunday Service last year. But Humza gave the most
moving and profound speech, that has been given at those services, over the years. I remember it so clearly, he
began by chanting beautifully, so beautifully in Arabic. And then, speaking in English,
for all of us to hear. It also introduced me to
the status, the reputation that Humza enjoys in the Muslim community. It’s hard to fill the
sanctuary of that chapel, but it was filled by Muslims,
who had learned, and heard that Humza was going to be in
town, and preaching at the, speaking at the, at the service. And it was just a wonderful
thing, to see the esteem in which he’s held, by
the Muslim community. So have I flattered you
enough, Humza, yeah? – I feel like such a fraud, right now. (laughing) I think I’m gonna get
arrested in a few minutes. – No it’s all, it’s all true,
and it’s just such a pleasure to have my dear friend here with me. Now since I’m in the David Frost role, I’d like to open our discussion, although, Humza, please say anything, you like. I’d like to open it, by going to the very foundations of our thought
about Religious Freedom. Those of you who heard my philosophical treatment of the problem
today, will not be surprised that I think that, at the foundations, we find the concept of the
dignity of the human being. We respect people’s rights, including, in the very first place, the
right to religious freedom. Because we believe that every human being, irrespective of culture,
or class, or religion, wealth, status, every human being has fundamental, inherent, worth and dignity. No human being is a mere
clog in the social wheel, to be sacrificed for the sake of the state, or the father
land, or the Fuhrer, or the people, or even the faith. We believe that every
human being is special, and has dignity. In the Jewish and Christian
traditions, Humza, we would understand theologically, the
dignity of the human being, to be rooted in the belief that man, each of us, is
made in the very image, and likeness of God. This is taught to us in Genesis. We can give a philosophical
account, because that fact, of our being made in the image and likeness of God, manifests
itself in certain ways. I mean, after all, God… You can’t say we’re made in
the image and likeness of God, in the sense, that God has
five fingers on each of two hands, and hair on
his head, and a nose. – Right.
– Right? No. Rather, we are God-like in our possession of the capacities, the powers
for reason and freedom. Like God, we are capable of
causing things, we have freedom, we’re capable of causing things,
we’re not cause to cause. We’re capable of functioning,
unlike brute animals, not simply on instinct, or impulse, but by deliberation, judgment, and choice. But the account of that,
that might be affirmed even by a secular person,
that the account of why, or how that is the case,
not whether it’s the chase, that’s clear, but how that’s the case. Is that scriptural teaching,
about man being made in the image and likeness of God, how would you address it theologically, from the Islamic point of view? – Right. (words spoken in foreign language). First of all, the reason
why we hit it off, actually, is because in my talk
I quoted Randy Travis. (laughing) And immediately, I had a friend,
because Rob is, you know, is a great Bluegrass
musician, and my brother is probably one of the best
Dobro players on the West Coast. I grew up with Bluegrass
music, so we knew, we had all this immediate,
the Stanley Brothers, and Earl Scruggs, and… (laughs) I actually knew to– – He keeps outing me, he keeps on– – I see, he played a banjo
tune for the whole audience, that day, and I thought
it was Earl’s breakdown. But he was so impressed,
that I just knew that it was adjustable tuning, that was going on. – It was the Flint Hill Special. – Yeah, Flint Hill Special. (chuckling) This issue about the image of God, the imago, that is really central to
the Christian tradition. This is an area that the Muslim
theologians dealt with a lot because of the anthropomorphism,
that is obviously one of the dangers in that idea. And as you mentioned, it’s
not the physical image, because as Saint Thomas
Aquinas, and all the great Catholic theologians made it very clear, that God was not limited
in time and space. But in the Islamic tradition,
there’s a Hadith that says, that God created the (foreign language), the Merciful created man in his own image. And they have a lot of debate about what that tradition means. But the dominant opinion amongst classical Muslim
theologians, and obviously there’s some anthropomorphic
traditions in Islam. In fact, what’s called
the (foreign language) tradition tends to have
a very anthropomorphic idea about that tradition. So they will argue, that God’s actually in the direction up, and they demand… I was once surrounded by
a group in Saudi Arabia, I was in Medina, of young students, some of them were American
students that were studying there and they surrounded me,
demanding that I assert that God was up, like
physically (laughs) up there. And I said to them, I told
them, I said, “You know, “do you concede that the Earth is round?”. And they said, “Yes”. And I said, “Well, you
know, where do you point “if you’re on the other
side of the planet, “what do they do?”. (laughs) And that definitely
confused them a little bit. (laughing) The theologians argue that we’re created in the metaphysical image
of God, and there are 20 attributes that are
considered necessary for God, to believe that God, the One, is Aseity, which the Catholics assert also. The idea that God is a being unto himself, he does not need anything outside of his own essence, to exist. And then, the idea of
firstness without beginning, lastness without end, and it goes on. But the seven attributes of life, of sight, of hearing, that he’s (foreign
language) that God speaks. So sight, life, hearing,
speech, and that he sees everything. The seven attributes,
the theologians argue that these attributes
manifest in the human being, as a way of approximating the
understanding of God to Man. That we know that God is all seeing, because he has limited our sight, and yet, he can speak to us, and tell
us that he’s all seeing. And the fact that we
have sight, enables us to understand what that means. Even though, you know,
in Mathematics they say any number over infinity, is canceled out. And so, any temporal attribute
of a contingent being, in relation to the atemporal
reality of an absolute being, that’s not contingent, is canceled out. We can’t say, we see, but we can’t say we see like God. But when God says, he is
the all hearing, or the all seeing, the all hearing,
or the omniscient, the all powerful. We know what power is,
because we have been given this limited power, contingent power, that enables us to
understand that concept. The Muslims agree with the
Jews, and the Christians on that principle, but with that caveat, that it has to be understood… We have a, the Christian’s
call it, the Catholics call it the via negativa, right? – Yes, that’s right.
– In theology, that we believe that it’s
easier to say what God is not, than to say what God is. And the Muslim theologians
say, that anything that will occur to your
mind, God is other than that. And so, in the end, there’s the inconceivability of God,
for the human intellect. And in fact, there’s a tradition,
the Prophet Muhammad said, never reflect on the essence of God, but reflect on the gifts
that God has given you, the blessings. And we know that mathematicians
like George Cantor, who attempted to even penetrate infinity. Most of these mathematicians
have gone mad. I mean literally, Cantor
ended up in a straight-jacket. That the human being cannot
contemplate infinity. Even an actual, actual infinity, which mathematicians talk about,
as opposed to an absolute. God’s essence is impenetrable,
for the human intellect. – The relationship
between faith and reason. In Christianity, there are a
spectrum of views about that, as is true, I’m told by my
friend Rabbi David Novak, within in Judaism. But on the Catholic side
of that spectrum, and also for some Protestants, and for some Jews, it is thought that there
is a fundamental harmony, and not only a harmony, but a mutual necessity, of faith
and reason, or revelation and reason. Pope John Paul II opens
his great Encyclical, on faith and reason,
called Fides et ratio, faith and reason, with an image. He says that faith and
reason are like two wings, on which the human spirit ascends to contemplation of the truth. He worries, and this is very much in
line with the Catholic side of the Christian tradition,
that too great an emphasis, and an over emphasis on
reason, leads to fideism. – Right.
– And of course… On faith, I’m sorry, an
over emphasis on faith leads to fideism. The belief that what we can know, especially in the ethical
domain, is limited to what God especially reveals. And if you make the opposite
error, too great a faith and reason, you get rationalism, which ends up being reductive, and turns on itself, to
eliminate the possibility of any knowledge, at all. Do we find a spectrum within
Islam, on the question of the relationship of faith and reason? And from your own perspective,
as an Islamic thinker, how do you understand that relationship? – You know, I think one of the
major problems that happened a few years back, when the
Pope gave the famous talk. – Oh, the Regensburg. – Right, the Regensburg talk, in Germany. And he quoted, he was actually quoting one of the last Emperors,
of the Byzantine, before Istanbul, Constantinople fell, I think he was about 90
years before the fall. And he was quoting him,
about the irrational nature of Islam, and then he
quoted a Muslim theologian, Ibin Hazam, who’s an Anderocian thelogian from the 5th Islamic Century. There’s definitely been, as you know, in Christianity, and in Judaism, there are strains that are, that are anti-rational. And you find that within
the Islamic tradition. And historically, the Muslims
had a fundamental crisis, between this idea of what
they called naql and aql. Naql is what the revelation
is that’s transmitted, and aql is the intellect,
and how it grapples with the revelation, so reason and revelation, and the interchange between these two. And this became one of
the fundamental debates, in the early Islamic tradition. And there was a school,
called the Mutazilite, that are the rationalists,
that argued that religion has to be consistent
with reason, at all times. And they took an Aristotelian
position, that if it could not be justified rationally, then we would reject it. And the counter to that, were two schools. One was a traditionalist
school, that argued, that reason doesn’t have any
place, we just simple accept what’s been given to us, and the intellect will
just lead us astray. This school was a very small
minority school, that now, a modern version of that
school is what we find, for instance, in some of the extremist traditions today. And certainly, in some of
the positions in Arabia. But I would not lump all of
the Saudi scholars together, it’s very dangerous to do that. There are some very
enlightened Saudi Scholars, even within what’s called
the Wahhabin tradition. They don’t like to be called Wahhabees. Even within that tradition,
and I have friends from that tradition, but some of those scholars are, it’s unbelievable
what they come up with, because of their rejection of reason. Logic is forbidden in
their school, to teach. Whereas, in the dominant
strain of Islamic tradition, you have a balance. And they talk about the two wings, also, of faith and reason, and
the importance that in fact, Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, one
of the greatest theologians of Islamic history, there’s
a verse in the Quran called the Light Verse, and
it said that God sends us, this revelation down, and
then it says light upon light. And he argues, that it’s
reason upon revelation. That if you don’t have
the light of reason, to interact with
revelation, you’re blinded by the Light of God, as
opposed to guided by it. That you need your own
reason, to enable you to see with the Light of God. That revelation without reason blinds you, it does not enable you to see the truth. And this becomes the dominant position, and this is what taught… I studied Aristotelian logic with West African scholars. I mean, they still are very committed to the Aristotelian tradition. They haven’t really had
the additions that Bacon, or John Stuart Mill, or others have added to the logical tradition. And they certainly, have
no idea of symbolic logic, or some or the madness
that modern logic has. And I’m not saying that
flippantly, I mean, I just, the fact that we’ve, we’ve removed logic from tra… Even in law school, they no longer study, in most law schools, they
don’t study formal logic. The inability to understand… The Arabs, what I was talking about with one of my Logical teachers, he said, that the foundation of
understanding is that is, he said, it’s first
tasorl, conceptualization, and then he said it’s hookum, judgment. And then he said, and then’s
it’s reasoning with those, those two, that you need those two tools to do the third. And then he said, but
the hookum Is based on… The ruling, the judgment about a thing, is based on it’s conceptualization. And then he gave me this
principle, (foreign language) (foreign languag). Which means, before you can
judge a thing, you must grasp and understand it, in all of
it’s understandable dimensions. And so, this is the idea
of really teaching people how to think, defining terms, understanding how we can reason. I mean, this is the great
gift that we’ve been given, the ability to reason, arguments. The Quran uses many arguments. There’s a book written
by a great theologian, Imam Jafer e Sadiq
called (foreign language) which means the sound standard or balance, and he argues in there,
that he refutes those who reject the logic,
saying that God himself uses reasoning in the
Quran, usually in the form of enthymemes, right? But they are solid logistic,
in their basic structures. All of my teachers were very committed to a rational understanding,
and the idea, like when I taught, I taught
theology last year, and we read, we read the traditional the
Kalam Cosmological Argument, for the existence of God,
which is the great contribution of Muslim theologians. Even now, to Western tradition, because the primary book we use, was
written by a Christian scholar who used the Kalam Cosmological Argument, because it’s a very sophisticated form of the traditional cosmological argument. And so, they were really struck by that. And when we dealt with the new atheist, I mean, the thing that I
tried to point out, was that the new atheist, they’re
reasoning is so shallow, they’re not… Nietzsche was a much better atheist, – Oh, yeah, yeah.
– than these modern… I mean, if you’ve ever read Nietzsche, Nietzsche was the only guy
that ever, in my experience in reading, I felt like
he grabbed my spine, my religious spine, and just shook it. – Everything’s gone to
pot, including atheism. It’s so much better–
– Exactly, exactly. Yeah, no, much better atheists,
much better theologians. We’re now waxing nostalgic,
you know, the past… I mean, even Georgetown,
look at the students. You know, seriously, and I tell the… I was at a college, because I teach at a junior college, I’m teaching a class with another teacher. And they were asking about, you know, oh, doesn’t Saudi Arabia claim
to be the only true religious state in the Muslim world? And I said, well, don’t you
all claim to be students? I mean, does a claim really mean anything? (laughing) (laughing) I said, I know you’re all smoking dope, and doing your Gameboys. You’re not reading the books, we know, we can tell from the tests. (laughing) (laughing) – Being a Catholic,
I’m not quite as strong on my scriptures, as I should be. But I believe, Mike Harmony
can correct me, if I’m wrong, and will, I’m sure, that it’s our common
spiritual father, Abraham, who argues with God. He begins with a negotiation, right? – Right, yes–
– About Sodom and Gomorrah. But he doesn’t just negotiate– – That’s in the Quran, too, by the way. – He makes an argument.
– He makes an argument. – He essentially– – Give me 10 righteous people. – Well, there’s the bargaining,
but then, the argument is, you wouldn’t want it to be said,
of the God of all creation, that he would do an injustice.
– Yes. – You know, it’s contrary
to the nature of, to the nature of, nature of God.
– We have the same argument. – At that Regensburg speech, which caused so much controversy, but also then, I think, generated– – A lot of dialog, I think he… I actually met the Pope, because of it. – Yeah, you were one of the 38– – We met, and he got like
completely shocked, because… And he was very gracious, he actually stayed on the same level
as the Muslim interlocutor, that represented the Muslim. So he didn’t, he wasn’t raised on a dais. But he came down, and
greeted each one of us, and really connected, and
spent like 30 seconds. Which is a lot of time, when
you’re meeting the Pope, you know, 30 seconds.
– That’s right. (laughs) – I was really struck, first of all, by how poorly he photographs. He actually has a very
soft face, that really, when I met him personally,
it really came through. But I told him, I said,
“Listen, I have a mother-in-law “that I’ve got problems with, because “her daughter married
me, and she’s a Catholic. “So I think I can solve this problem, “if you would just pray for her”. (laughing) – Never miss an opportunity. – And his eyes just lit
up, they really did. And he said a prayer,
in Latin, by the way. I had four years of Latin. He said a prayer in Latin, for her. When I told her that, I am
just like in like Flynn. I have no problems, you know. I’ve solved all of my problems. (laughing) So she’s got, she’s Mexican Catholic, a really devout Mexican American. But she’s got a picture
of me meeting the Pope, that everybody that comes in the house, “That’s my son-in-law”. “I don’t care if he’s Muslim, or what”. (laughing) (laughing) So anyway, that– – The thing the Pope was concerned about, it’s interesting the
way the thing came up, the faith and reason
issue, directed toward the engagement with the Muslim world, if I’m recalling correctly. Of course, the debate over
fideism within Christianity, is a long standing debate. The Reformation has a lot, a lot to do with that. But his concern, express concern was, that when religion is not,
as he put it, purified, that’s the term he used, at
least it’s the translation into English, I believe
he was speaking in German, was purified. That unless religion
is purified by reason, it can degenerate into violence. So that’s where that,
so he sees reason as… Let aside, the merits of the
argument about Islam, but he sees reason as necessary to religion, as part of religion, and
not something apart from it, for the sake of humane, compassionate values, peaceful values. – Anyways, I can agree with him, I mean, he’s absolutely right on that, yeah. I think Asimov’s remark, that violence is the last refuge of the
incompetent, and that it’s lack of reason, that
leads to that inability to deal with the problems. And I think what’s happening
in the Muslim world today, the social problems are so great. We’re talking about
religious freedom, right? Which is a serious problem. And it is, in the Muslim world. On a lot of different levels,
like he was talking about, intra-religious debate, because
within the Muslim community there are people that
actually will deal better with interfaith, than
they will with intrafaith. Like they’ll actually be
able to talk to Christians and Jews, with respect, and
mutual tolerance, and dignity. – That’s true in all religions. – Well, I think, but it’s a problem. – It is a problem in all religions. – It’s a type of stupidity, because… First of all, human differences,
we will never agree. You know, the Arabs, and
Mutanabbi is a great Arab poet, he said, “Man will never
agree on anything, accept “that they disagree, and death”. And then he says, “But even
in death, they disagree, “because some say, the
soul dies with the body, “and others say, the soul
goes on after the body. “So even in death, men differ”. So, you know, this idea that
we can somehow construct… And this is the Utopian fantasy, of every ideology, that we can
kind of construct society in a uniform image. There’s nothing in nature, that’s uniform. Nature is, it’s not chaotic, but it’s extremely diverse,
and it has a chaotic element in it, I mean, from our perspective. So this idea, that we
have to regiment people. I mean, I believe in a magisterium, I do. I think that religion does
need, because of the dangers inherent in religious belief. Because, you know, nothing
is done more heinous, than when it’s done in
the name of religion. It’s very easy for good
people to do evil things, has been noted by many
people, because of religion. And so, when you’re
dealing with religion… This is one of the issues
with freedom of religion in the Muslim world. Jordan, I mean, I’m very familiar with the situation in Jordan. Jordan does issue a weekly sermon, that all the
Imams give in the Mosque. And every Imam, every mosque
has like a secret police, in most of the, I would
probably say, almost all of the Muslim countries, monitoring the Imam’s statements. Now, part of that, for
me, it’s deeply troubling. I would like to see like
here, I’m able to get up and say whatever I want, in the masjid I mean, now we have FBI
monitoring some of the masjids. Generally, I’m not gonna get, the FBI’s not gonna come and
arrest me, for what I’m saying. They might mark down,
that he said some things against the government, or whatever. – But that would happen
throughout the Arab world? – Well, in the Arab world,
if you say certain things, and some of them, yeah, large
parts of the Muslim world, you will end up in jail the same day, if you say certain things. One of the things about Americans, and I think Western people
in general, is this idea of freedom, how we define the term. Because it’s, as you know,
it’s a very problematic term, especially as a legal theorist, you know the relationship between
law and freedom is a very nebulous one. – I’ve written a couple of books on that. – Exactly, yeah. – In fact, they’re on your
reading list, on your website, for which, I thank you. – We have one of the great legal theorists, and you do have the Hadley Marcus.
– Hadley Marcus. – I mean, I would love to have
him up here, instead of me. You know, this idea… Mortimer Adler, who wrote
this in topic on essays, and they identified that
University of Chicago project, identified 102 great ideas,
and freedom was one of them. When he founded the Institute
of Philosophical Research back in the 50s, the first
great idea that they decided to do, they never got beyond
it, because it took so long. But the first idea they decided
to investigate, was freedom. And they wrote a two
volume work, that I think maybe one or two people
have read, on freedom, but it was identifying the
different types of freedom. You know, moral freedom, in this country, we don’t talk about moral freedom. Like the ability to be free
to control your akrasias. – St. Paul.
– Exactly! The ability to control… We have political leaders,
that lose their careers, because they don’t have moral freedom. They’re unable to freely act, they submit to their own lower tendencies. And so, moral freedom is just absent from this talk about freedom. Freedom in America becomes licentiousness, and the idea that it’s the
freedom to do whatever I want, as long as I don’t hurt anybody. That’s always the nice caveat. Not recognizing that, for instance, in the case of pornography,
we now know that there’s a great deal of statistical
evidence, that indicates that people that engage in pornography, over long periods of time,
end up in pedophilia. They end up watching pedophilic images, which, as you know, anybody in a society that wants to maintain
the fabric of a society, to hold it together, has
be be deeply concerned by evidence like that. And just say, look,
this can’t just be about what I do in the privacy of my home. We also know that a lot
of the films are made by organized crime. A lot of the women,
that are in these films, are actually in sexual
slavery, which we have, literally, millions of people now engaged – all over the world.
– All of this came out, in the conference.
– Exactly! There are deep issues about this. So when we look in the
Muslim world, I understand, and the Jordanian example, that it used to be, that
scholars were allowed to say whatever they wanted. This was when the great
teaching institutions of AlAzhar, of (foreign language), of Zaytuna, that were producing
these world class scholars. In the colonial period, a
lot of these institutions broke down, their funding was absconded, there was a lot of malfeasance,
there a lot of problems that came about. These institutions lost their credibility. They became part of government control. And so, AlAzhar went under the government. It used to be an independent organization, but it went
under the government. And so, you got the scholars for dollars, the people that were, you know, under, they were being paid by the state, and they lost their
independence, and their freedom. But these men, and the women also, that were involved in this, were people that were committed to a
balanced, moderate tradition, in Islam, recognizing that social order was extremely important. And so, you had very
responsible sermons on Friday. What happened in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, when you got this transition
to the weekend scholars, because of the high literacy that emerges in the Muslim world. And suddenly, you have people reading. As you know, St. Augustine wrote on Christian doctrine, arguing that the Liberal
Arts was necessary, that you had to be a liberal
artist, to read the Bible. You have to know what a
conditional sentence is, you have to know what
the subjunctive mood is, if you’re gonna read a book
that purports to be from God. If you haven’t studied Grammar, if you haven’t studied rhetoric, if you haven’t studied logic,
than it’s very dangerous to open up a book,
believing this is from God. Years ago, when I was, I did a
rotation in an Insane Asylum, I wasn’t in there as a patient. (laughing) I did a rotation in an Insane
Asylum, and there was this guy he was a Manic Depressive,
and he had gone, he had a psychotic episode,
because he read in the Bible, stay awake and keep vigil. And he took it literally. And he stopped sleeping. And he went into this psychotic episode. So I was, you know, talking
to him about this, and I said, “Did you ever think that
that might actually have been “more like metaphorical,
that it meant like “stay awake, and keep vigil, “not all the time, but
just when you’re awake, “and be aware that there’s danger.” And then, he said, “No,
I didn’t think of that”. And it was, this kind of light
went off, on this poor man. But we have people reading books, that are very dangerous books. I mean, the Quran is a dangerous book. The Bible is a dangerous book,
these are not easy books, and in the wrong hands,
I think, they cause an immense amount of harm. I mean, the metaphor that I would use, to use an economic metaphor,
we have externalities, right? In economics, you have a
company that will do something for a primary reason, but then,
it has these externalities. Now, there’s positive externalities, and negative externalities. So suddenly, they’re polluting
the river, do you know? And then, people downstream
start having birth defects. The people want that
corporation responsible for those externalities. Well, we tend to forget, that
religion has externalities. You know, there’s toxic
side effects, of religion. And as religious people,
I think we need to take more responsibility, for
the toxic externalities. I can’t, as an individual,
say, “Look, I’m responsible “for Bin Laden, and what he did”. But I have to acknowledge,
that there’s a strain of thinking, within the Islamic tradition, that is incredibly dangerous. And if it’s not marginalized,
if it’s not, in the same way that we would deal with a nuclear power, because religion is like nuclear power, it’s incredibly clean, and it’s, it will illuminate
houses, at much cheaper, and less harmful effects, than petroleum, and other energy sources. But, it has toxic that waste. And if you don’t have some
way of dealing with that, then you have meltdowns. – I’ve never thought of that analogy. We do want to have some time
for Q&A, but there are two, I want to a little lightening
round with you, first, Hamza. I don’t know if David
Frost every talked about lightening rounds. There are two issues that I– – What’s the first thing
you think, when I say? – Yeah, right. – The poor candidates, you know. Like, how would you describe yourself? – Or, do you prefer deep
dish, or thin crust? Here are the questions. One has to do with the impact of Islam on America. And the other, with America on Islam. So let’s start in reverse order. – Okay. – That document that I referred
to so frequently today, in my prepared remarks, Dignitatis Humanae of the Second Vatican Council. I believe was only made
possible, because of the American experience,
of religious liberty. And the work of American
thinkers, above all, the Jesuit thinker, John Courtney Murray, who for all I know, might have been at Georgetown, I’m not sure. But anyway, he was a very
distinguished Jesuit thinker, who for awhile, was required by the Church,
not to publish his work. He could continue doing it, but
the Church wasn’t quite sure about his robust conception
of religion liberty, that he was advancing. Not quite having yet
disentangled their idea of religious liberty, from
French Revolutionary ideology, which these European
prolets associated it, not quite gotten hold
of the American idea. But Murray, in the end,
prevailed, and his prevailing wasn’t the achievement
of one man, it was really the transmitting of the
experience of America, with a non-French Revolutionary version of religious liberty. One that was pro-religion,
that was friendly to religion, that supported religion,
that enabled the church to move from a limited, and cramped idea of religious liberty, to the robust idea. Is something like that… Will the work of American
Muslims, and the experience of Muslims in America, have that impact on Islam internationally? – I totally believe that. I mean, one of the most
interesting things about Muslim, Muslims in America, is
that for the first time, a lot of these immigrants,
have never had to like build a mosque, because the
state does all this stuff, where they come from. And so, suddenly it’s the
idea, you know, self-reliance. The American virtue becomes part and parcel of the
Muslim immigrant experience in this country. Of having to have fundraisers,
and do these things. Because in Muslim countries,
it’s all controlled by the state. And so, the state builds the mosque, the state runs the mosque. I mean, there’s still areas
where that’s not totally true, and I was in a few of them. But, generally, that is the case. There’s an immense amount
of strength, that comes with this separation. And I mean, my own personal
experience, I really believe that the conflation of state and religion, is the worst thing that
can happen to religion. Because it deracinates religion
of it’s spiritual sources. It really, you know, sterilizes the, the religion, it has a
horrible affect on people. Which is why you see
so many people sleeping in these Friday sermons, throughout the Muslim world. And then, the passivity it creates, because people aren’t forced
to have to think about things. – Well, it hasn’t done much for England, to have an established
church, in recent years. I mean, that’s certainly– – Yeah, England, I think
it’s such a unique, I mean, I think, we underestimate
the impact that having a world war on their
continent had on them. We didn’t have, we lost a
lot of people, my Father was a World War II Veteran. And he came back, fortunately. But we lost a lot of
people on the continent. All those cities were destroyed. I mean, people really, you know, their faith was shaken to the core, with World War I, and then II. They had a devastating impact on them. – There’s not doubt
about that, but it seems that the people who were
most eager to disestablish the Church of England,
are not the secularists, and people who are hostile to religion. – The very–
– It’s the Anglican people. Exactly, when it–
There are religious people who think that this is– – It’s gotta stop.
– They say, what you say, that it deracinates religion,
that it makes if proforma, and so forth. But then, shifting now to the second. The impact of Islam on the United States. Catholics have had a major
impact on the United States, Jews have had a major impact. Obviously, Protestants, the
original European settlers, did. Muslims, and not just extremists. And not just Muslims
abroad, although them too. But American Muslims do worry, especially raising their
children, about this issue that you mentioned, of licentiousness. – Okay. – We don’t hear a lot of… From you we do, but we don’t
hear a lot from others, about these kinds of moral issues. – Right. – And I think that’s probably because as was the case with other
minorities in the past, especially recent arrivals,
they are very concerned with prejudice against them.
– Right. – With dealing with being in a new place. With wanting to seem as
though we’re not outsiders, we’re not hostile, we’re not dangerous. But my hope is, and your own work leads me to think this hope is a reasonable one. Is that, Muslims will join with
Protestants, and Catholics, and Jews, who are faithful, in the moral renewal of our culture. Is that a reasonable hope? – First, you know, I want to
just take a historical stab. Who would say was the most influential philosopher on the Founding Fathers? – On the Founding Fathers?
– Yeah. – Well, it’s interesting,
like the standard answer to that question, is Locke. But when Jefferson wrote his
famous letter to Henry Lee, in 1823, near the end of his life, he said, that he drew the inspiration, the content of the Declaration of Independence,
not for any one thinker, but from, Hadley can help me here, the standard books of political right. And then, he listed four or
five names, and then said, etc. And they were Aristotle, Cicero, – Yeah, great.
– Sidney, Locke, etc. – This is what’s wrong with
asking an academic a question, because he was just
supposed to say John Locke. (laughing) – Well, this is a lightening
round, so it’s Locke! – Yeah, okay, so John Locke. A lot of people don’t know that John Locke actually wanted to do Islamic studies, and that one of his main
influences, was Edward Pococke. And the Pococke Library
is in Oxford today, with 400 Arabic manuscripts,
because Pococke was his teacher at Oxford, and Pococke
had studied in Syria for several years, and
actually became a scholar, a notable Muslim scholar. Not a Muslim scholar, but a
very good scholar of Islam. He was a Christian when he returned. And one of the things that he
promoted, was Unitarianism, which is why Locke
converts to Unitarianism, and he also promoted
toleration, because he thought that the Muslims had
really solved the problem of religious plurality.
– This is Pococke? – Pococke, yes. – Locke had a more limited tolerance. – Absolutely. But I think the impact that
he had on Locke, is real. And so, I think the Muslims
that Islamic tradition has had an impact already,
and it’s an area that needs a lot of research, and investigation, but I think that there’s room for that. In terms of modern, the modern situation, one of the things that’s so striking, is wherever you go now,
you will see Muslims in some of the best universities
in the United States. And I know you’ve got
several students yourself. A lot of them are very committed to a moral life. They might not be, you know, as devotional as a really committed Muslim would be. But they’re raised in
environments with, usually, a very strong family, solid families. The divorce rate is much
lower in immigrants, than it is in the community at large. I think they’re gonna really
begin to have major impacts, because they’ve just
got so many advantages, over a lot of the… In many ways, I think we
mirror a lot of the Jewish communities experience,
in the United States. So a lot of the… I always tell the Muslims
now, like first of all, you don’t know what
persecution is, so don’t say you’re persecuted in America. I mean, we’ve got some
troubles, and we need something, but this idea that we’re
a persecuted minority, is absolutely absurd. I think there’s been some
egregious mistakes made, in law enforcement,
and things, undeniably. But overall, it’s just, it’s a fallacy
to say that, because they don’t know the
history of this country. And that’s one of the things
I try to remind people, that every minority
community that has come here, has been bitten, and had a difficult time. Which is why they tended to call the source of those stings, wasps. Because they really saw that, as kind of, you know, you had to assert yourself. The Irish Catholics had to do it. They were not part of that Anglican Protestant community. The Italian Americans
had to do it, you know, and they’re still dealing
with the territ… And we forget, you know,
the Waps, Diegos, Kikes, Niggers, Spics, Greasers. My Irish Great-Grandfather
changes his name. My Greek Grandfather’s name
was Dimitrius Uri Appolos, and he becomes James George, right? And he was light skinned–
– See we were related, I knew we were related. – He was light skinned,
and he had to tell people that he was from France. And this is like 30s, and
40s, in America, you know. I think, people, we’ve come a long way. And I think the Muslims, and the Hindus, and the Buddhists, now, are
the new kids on the block. They aren’t part of the European… Because the Eastern European
migration to this country was a radical change, from the past. I mean, at the turn of the
20th Century, all of… And a lot of the
anarchists that came over, and I mean, it’s a very
interesting period. So the Muslims are, they’re here, and they’re here in larger numbers. We just had a report that was
released, they did a study. I mean, the growth in mosques
in the last 20 years, is 79%. There’s now, almost 3,000 mosques. There’s more mosques here,
than there are in Jordan, if that quote today was accurate. We now represent one of the
largest minority communities of Muslims in the world. There are several Muslim countries, that have smaller numbers,
Mauritania is an example. And yet, we don’t have
representation on the Hajj. All of the Muslim countries
have Hajj representation. We now send more people to Hajj, than most of the Muslim countries. We send 17,000 people a year, to Hajj. There’s still no quotas, on
Muslims to Hajj from America, like they said, because
all the the other countries have quotas, because they can only take about three and a half
million people maximum, and they get so many requests. So, the Muslims, Keith Ellison
is actually trying to get some kind of representation
from this community, so that they can meet with
the King, and petition, right, the right to petition, for the necessities of
the American Hajjis. So I personally think,
there are many areas where Muslims are going to
increasingly impact the country. I mean, for instance,
what we’re trying to do in California, with the Zaytuna College, and I’m really trying to,
to get back to a kind of, it’s almost like an 18th
Century, early 19th Century ideal of a Liberal Arts college,
in the United States. Swarthmore is a good
example, what you might do. I mean, I think that you
should have, just like you have Pre-Med, you should have Pre-Law, in a Liberal Arts college,
instead of churning out these lawyers, that have no
philosophical understanding of the real issues about
law, like positivism, and natural law theory,
and really thinking deeply, about these issues. They end up becoming specialists,
that know a little bit about a subject, that needs to have a generalist understanding, if you’re gonna specialize in law. If you don’t have a
generalist understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of law. And these are ancient problems. I mean, religious freedom,
we’re talking about Antigone, is where we can argue
about religious freedom in a Liberal Arts college,
if you read Antigone, the same issues are there,
when the state impinges on the right for people to
practice their religion. As moderns, we’re so
arrogant in the assumption that these are new problems, you know. – At Cornell, West and I, in our seminars, always begin, we have lots
of different readings, we change it in different
ways, but we always begin with The Agtigone.
– Great. – Well, okay, let’s open the floor. Yes, Professor Bradley? – [Jerry] I’m Jerry Bradley, from the University of Notre Dame. That’s a school in the
Midwest, that was formerly a football powerhouse. My question has to do with
Robby’s favorite text, which is Dignitatis Humanae. And it may seem paradoxical, after all that’s been said
today, and including this evening to say that the writer, with this liberty that’s affirmed there, by
the Council of Fathers, based as Robby said,
I think quite rightly, in light of the American experience, with freedom of religion. Not so much specifically, I
think Murray’s theological writings and arguments, but
the American experience, I think, had a lot to do
with Dignitatis humanae. But it’s actually, though,
a basic human right, and a big deal, and the
reason why we’re here today. Freedom of religion is
actually derivative, it’s not foundational, it
comes from something else. When you look at the first
part of Dignitatis humanae, it’s easy to see that the something else is a moral duty.
– Right. – It’s the moral duty to the truth, each one is required, to seek out the truth
about matters religious, and to adhere to that truth,
which he or she finds. And my question is to you,
Shaykh Hamza, is there a counterpart notion, parallel notion, or something like that,
in the Islamic tradition, where you have this… Now these are my own terms,
to describe this phenomenon and to touch, right? You have this foundational commitment to the truth, whatever that happens to be. And Catholicism comes
in a little bit later. Is this overriding moral duty
of each one, to what’s true, part of the tradition in Islam? Because if it is, then you
have the sort of the resources, to develop a critical theology. And you really have the
opening, to move philosophy, and reason, Benedict
would say, into a kind of, consortium, with the Islamic
theological tradition. – Yeah, and that’s what,
it’s been there, I mean, our theologians were very
committed to that idea, that faith had to be based on reason. They were very troubled
by circular reasoning, they call it (foreign language), I mean, we studied these things in
our theological training, that you can’t argue… The Quran has to be proven, to be true rationally. So there’s all these books written, making rational proofs,
of why it’s revelation. There’s all these, because they
needed to ground it in that. And so, I think that’s
foundational, to the understanding, that you had to have faith and reason, and that component was so important. And also, there are many,
there’s no verses in the Quran where any coercion is mentioned. The Quran states clearly, in Chapter 18, (foreign language) who ever wants to
believe, let him believe. It literally says (foreign
language), let him believe. And whoever wants to
disbelieve, (foreign language), let him disbelieve. And then, the Prophet
Muhammad, it was said to him in the Quran, can you compel
people to be believers, in the second chapter
of (foreign language), it says that, there can be
no coercion in the religion, that reason is clear, from unreasonal error. The reason it’s clear, this is clear, so you can’t force people,
let them think about this. Even in the chapter where
they say, about killing people in (foreign language),
which is the ninth chapter. And this is always quoted by people, saying that Islam is violent. It says, to kill the
polytheists wherever they are. And that verse, which is in that chapter, that verse was a time specific verse, because the polytheists
had broken the treaty with the Muslims. They had a treaty, and they had broken it, by killing Muslims. And then they, they went to Mecca, which was
a sanctuary at that time, and they had captives, and it was permission to fight in the sanctuary. That was not a universal theme to, I mean, isn’t
what you were taught. You know, this is what we were taught. And then, it says immediately after that, but if one of the wants
to hear the word of God, let him hear the word of God. And then it says, and if
he decides not to believe, then take him to a safe
place, and leave him alone. Right? This is this de-contextualization, and the idiotic people, quoting… I mean, I had one of my
teachers, somebody got up in a lecture, and quoted
this verse in the Quran, that says, whoever doesn’t judge by God, he is a disbeliever. And he said to him, “Which
chapter is that in?”. He said, “I don’t know”. And he said, “What was
the verse before it, “so I can know the context”. He said, “I don’t know”. He said, “What was the verse after it?”. He said, “I don’t know”.
He said, “What do you do?”. He said, “I’m a mechanic”. He said, “Fix cars”. I mean, we… Like I said, these books
are dangerous books, and you have to have a
scholastic tradition, that is able to navigate these meanings. The Prophet said, I said never, nobody, during his lifetime, was
killed for apostacy, nobody. And there are apostacy laws,
just like in Catholicism, you can find in church canon law, you can find apostacy laws. There are apostacy
laws, there’s one Hadith that they base these on. But there are other Hadiths, and they weren’t in agreement upon this. One of the greatest
scholars of Islam, Oppa, did not believe that there should be any capital offense, and apostacy. Now, the idea, and you
know, in our Supreme Court, in 1955, there was an
argument, and you know much better than I do, I
think it was about polygamy. Which, that–
– The polygamy case was back in the 19th Century,
the Mormon Polygamy case, called Reynolds– – Which was the one, where
it was sent the freedom to, that religious freedom,
is the freedom to believe, but not necessary, the freedom to act. (mumbled words from audience) – What was that? – [Male in Audience] Well,
the Jehovah Witnesses case, from 1940, says that. – It might have been–
– Gobitis and (mumbled word)? – Yeah.
– Yeah. – Okay. That, obviously, there’s a lot
of room for interpretation, on what that means, right? – Sure, sure. – But, traditionally, many
people did not believe in Islam, and I guarantee you, there are many people in the Muslim world, that
do not believe in Islam. But they don’t go out, into the society, and declare these things,
not necessarily because they can’t do it, but
because they understand, that this will really
affect the social fabric. That, you know, first of
all, people end up losing the whole marriage, all these things, because in Islamic law, if you’re, a Muslim woman cannot marry
a un-Muslim man, by law. And a Muslim man, although
he can marry a Jew, or a Christian woman, is
not encouraged to do so. But he has that dispensation. The other thing that’s very problematic, in Islamic tradition,
and I have to say this, you know, full disclosure. The Islamic tradition is not
amenable, to the same degree that other traditions are, to reformation. The reason for that, is
the Islamic tradition actually sees itself as a
reformation, of the Jewish and Christian sectarianism. Throughout the Quran,
there are verses that say, do not turn into sects, like the Jews and the Christians did before you, right? And you know, I mean, the
Middle East was filled with Jacobites, and historians, and Syrian Orthodox, and
Catholics, and Coptic. I mean, all these sects,
right, were there. And there are many verses saying,
don’t change your religion after it’s been given to you. Muslim, it’s much more difficult
for us, to deal with it, and that’s why we have to find the sources from our tradition, and they’re there. That’s that beauty of the tradition. Those sources are there, those dissenting opinions are there. And those dissenting opinions need to be brought to the forefront,
because right now they’re in the background. And that’s something, you know… We’re sitting under
these Babylonian bricks, worrying about them falling on our heads. But we tend to just forget
about things in the background, when we’re so focused on the foreground. But very often, in religious
thinking, and tradition, we have to look at the
richness of the tradition, and bring things that in the past have been in the background, and bring them into the foreground. And this give is a much stronger basis, for convincing
Muslims around the world. And this is what I try to do. You know, find those sort of… I have Muslims all the time
say, “I can’t believe that”. Isaiah’s right there. You know, here’s the
Hadith, you know, look, the Prophet said that. And the Prophet said once,
he said, none of you… And this is a sound
Hadith, (foreign language) this is very important amongst Muslims, wheter the Hadith is sound or weak. This is a sound Hadith,
so it has authority. But, you know, it says, that
none of you truly believes, until you have mutual mercy. And one of the companions
said, all of us are merciful. He said, no, it’s not the mercy
a man shows to his friend, it’s (foreign language) universal mercy, mercy for all of creation. And it’s not just, it includes animals. The Prophet was, he was very concerned about harming animals. I mean, how can you have
a religious tradition that can blow up people, on
buses, and little children, and things like that, and you’re
not allowed to kill frogs? I mean, it’s just so weird,
you know, this modern madness. – We have time for one more question, and it’s Professor Arkes. – [Hadley] I get it? Is this on? – Yes.
– Yup. – [Hadley] Yup, well,
in that case, we’d say we could the raise the money, but it would be wrong, for sure. (laughing) Now I wish I could take Hamza back to Amherst with me, but I’ve given up Amherst for Lent. (laughing) (laughing) Tom reminded me, Tom made
a remark today about, that the understanding of
religion is distinctly human. Reminded me of (mumbled word) line, that animals have no religious sense. When was the last time you heard a cow give up grass on Fridays, you know. I want to go take us back,
to something that could be, must be embedded in what
we’re arguing today. I was taken by that
passage in the new book, about religion being our,
working out a relation to the harmony of the universe. And I thought, what beast
would make a contrast with Madison’s understanding,
reflected in Stephen Field, what do we mean by religion? Our relations to the
creator of the Universe, and the duties that we owe him. Now, of course, some of the things that
advertise themselves as religion, seek to get a liberation from duties. Duties is a distinctly moral term. You know, years ago with
Father Newhouse, we used to, Robby was there, we used to have seminars with people,
litigating on these questions, Mike McConnell, Doug Lakehawk,
and they were offended when we raised the
question, “Well what is, “how do you understand
a legitimate religion?”. You have these prostitutes
in San Francisco, forming COYOTE, Call Off
Your Old Tired Ethics. If they claim to be a
religious sect, do you have any grounds for resisting them. Robby referred to The Strata, Astra Tata, and the
concern by seeking the truth accepting the truth in relig… Oh, of course, you imply
now, that we have access to standards of reason,
by which we could gauge the difference between claims
that are true, or false, plausible, or implausible. There’s a concern for an upright life, I presume we reject satanism. The point I’m trying to
make, is that we are, we are folding into our
understanding of religion, standards of reason. And Robby was citing Abraham negotiating with
God, over Sodom and Gomorrah, “Shall the God of the Universe
not himself be just?”. Remember we had this
conversation with David Novak, he said, “It’s all revelation!”. Oh, what was Abraham saying to God? “You don’t understand
your own revelation?”. He said, “We’ve gotta be
reasonable”, David said. Ah, yes, we have to be reasonable. Right, we’re appealing
to standards of reason. We’ve seen sects in Upstate New York, the Universal Congregation of
seeking to simply affirming, as a doctrine of belief, their exemption from the
taxes that are imposed on real estate, so they
can be on the same plane with other religious, claimed by other religious
institutions, in the area. We might see the aftermath
of the Hosanna-Tabor case, a new sect claiming that they too, the main doctrine, is that
they wish to be exempted from the regulations
that apply from the EEOC, to matters of hiring, hiring and firing. Right? And they want to call
everybody a Minister, who works for them. And at some point, we need
something to say to them. So what I want to suggest to you, is this, does this not all get back to us, to the God of the logos, the God of reason. The God mentioned in the
Declaration of Independence. The author of the laws of nature, and nature’s reason about moral things. So I put this to, Shaykh Hamza, what would you say, in
response to this question, when somebody says, don’t we have here a stance, an
understanding that does not make us vulnerable, to any
group, animated by passion, that comes forth, to declare
itself to be a religion, and gives us grounds of judgment. What would your own advice on that be? – You know, I mean, you know
very well, that we’re down the, we’re Alice, fallen
into the hole, and it’s, we’re in Wonderland. I mean, everything’s been… I mean, I felt so sorry for Robby today. He doesn’t feel sorry for himself, because he deals it all the time. The woman who asked about the, the marriage, and this
idea of trying to reason from natural law, not
a religious argument, but a natural law
argument, that uses reason. And a lot of these
people, will simply say, but I’m not rational. That I don’t believe in rationality. These are Dionysian people,
they’re not Apollonian, and they want the Dionysian world, to be the dominant world. This is our argument, you
know, we need to, that… I recently read a book,
it’s a beautiful book, All Things Shining, I don’t
know if anybody read it in here. One of the things that they’re arguing, is trying to find meaning
in a secular age, right? They talk about this kind of just, like how Helen was honored by the Gods, and that the Gods were the
ones that seduced here away, and that it wasn’t like a
betrayal of the marriage bed, it was her recognizing the moment, and Paris sweeping her off. And there was this kind of celebration of the Dionysian spirit, in this book, that really intrigued me. But I think we’re dealing with this today, in the United States, that people don’t understand
where we’re headed. Toynbee studied 21 civilizations, and showed very clearly, how they fell. And they fell, the way
we’re falling right now. You know, it’s quite troubling. I mean, this country has a
lot of strength, and power, and I think there are
possibilities for renewal. But we’re entering into a post-Abrahamic period, in the West,
that’s deeply troubling. And I think the Founding
Fathers, they certainly got some things wrong, but
they got a lot of things right. And they understood, things from the perspective
that you’re arguing from, that is no longer the perspective. I mean, we’ve got moral relativism is the dominant force in our
schools and universities today. And even though, the
sad thing about it is, is that a lot of these professors
are not absolute skeptics, and they’re not total moral relativists, but they teach in a
way that hints at that, and these students,
that’s what these young, impressionable minds go away with. And so, you know, I told
this class there, that if anybody says to you,
there are no absolutes, you have to see the
paradox of the statement. That they are articulating an absolute, and I think it’s one of God’s jokes on us, that we can’t deny absolutes, without using an absolute. I don’t know, I really don’t
have an answer to that. I wish I did, you know, but I’m, I’m troubled about the way
all these things are going. And like you said, we’ve got
new religions cropping up, there’s magazines that say how
to start your own religion. I mean, that was in a
reader, had a cover story, how to start your own religion. And a lot of young people
say, I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious. They don’t want this idea,
of any organized religion. I always tell ’em to
join the Islam religion, we’re the most unorganized
religion out there. – I’ll confess, that when
I heard a few years ago, as we all did, Woody Allen’s
response, when he was exposed as having taken up in a
relationship with his wife, or girlfriend’s daughter,
Soon Yi, as I recall her name. I remember when he responded to that, not with any defense,
not with any apology, not with any resolve to do
better, but simply by saying, “The heart wants, what the heart wants”. I’ll confess, that my reaction
to that, was to think, we’re doomed!
– Yeah. – In a cheerier moment, I think that while everything
you say is certainly true, and this is how the
great civilizations fell, I think there’s still hope. – There is, I honestly–
– For this great experiment. – We have children, I
mean, we can’t give up. – We have to hope.
– We have to hope. – And our hope, it seems to me,
and I’ll conclude with this, and it’s why, Hamza, I
have such esteem for you and what you’re doing.
– Thank you. – Our hope is in people of good will, believers in the great
truths of the Declaration, joining together, across the lines of historic theological divisions. – I agree. – And standing as brothers. – Yeah, we need an alliance of faith. – Yeah, that’s right. Faith in God, and faith in reason. – Yes. – Because, you notice they’re both, – Because reason, no, absolutely. – They’re both being undercut.
– They’re both being undercut. Completely, totally. – Tom, thank you, so much. Hamza, thank you.
– Ladies and Gentlemen, thank our guest.

46 thoughts on “Religious Freedom: Why Now? (Discussion between Robert P. George and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf)

  • It is our capacity to love that is God-like. God is love and we are Love at our cores, each and every one of us.

    Man has recreated God in his image complete with anger, vengeance, and other human emotions.

    God cannot be Love and not Love (as a verb). When you love you are love. God is not angry, nor vengeful. God always looks at what is best in us.
    All is of God, part of God.
    Humans can contemplate God, Shamans and Meditators do it successfully often.
    Faith is absolute if you have done it.

  • Revelation comes in response to the question a specific individual is asking at the time and then translated through the beliefs and expectations that individual holds. The answer is always specific to that individual including revelations to 'prophets'.

    God is alive and well and answering questions being asked today for those who hold a belief that they can receive answers.

    When humans love they are at their most God-like

    Look for reasons to love others. Look for the innate goodness in all

  • When we are solid in our own belief we will not be threatened by others who believe differently.

    Only those who are not confident in their own minds feel threatened by others having reached different conclusions.

    When we dig to the root of almost anything (even things we believe we agree on at the surface level) we will find differences in our beliefs ~ even the closest family members find these differences.

    We were not created to be 'same".

  • I love what he said about the toxic potential of religions. As I see them, at their basis they are all very much the same and good but it is the layers that man has added to them – in his desire to control others.

    I have looked at many religions and have found that at their basis they are good but it is aspects that I can clearly see were added to keep the powerful in power that create so many problems and wars.

    So many I know have been brainwashed to believe as they do – without thought.

  • Finding truth in reason is not necessary. We each receive guidance and can feel it if we have trained ourselves to listen to our inner wisdom. We will feel the resonance of truth when we hear it.

    God gave us far more tools to live our lives joyfully than most utilize.

  • Animals need no religious acts – they have not forgotten their connection to their Creator. That is how they hear their instinctive behaviors. Humans have the same capacity.

  • Science is beginning to learn the truth about our minds. Our brains are not storage towers – they are transmitting and receiving towers. Look at the quantum physics research being done which reflects the truth of this.

    We have access to thoughts that we have vibrationally tuned to. Revelations come when we tune to the frequency of our higher power. Some would say that is an enlightened BEing.

  • If they would understand that when individuals are in a good emotional place their inner goodness shines forth. I do not mean a temporary good mood but a sustainable and stable countenance of peace, well-being, positive emotion, positive expectation, and resilience the first thing they WANT to do is help others feel better. If we teach people how to reach this place the desire for peace will be so much easier to attain & sustain. Trying to do it head on w/religion is the harder/longer path.

  • Append to prior post re: the importance of emotions. Barbara L. Fredrickson's 'Broaden and Build' theory explained in her book, Positivity, explains much of this.
    University of California – Davis (2011, August 22). Happiness can deter crime, a new study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 26, 2012, from Search: .sciencedaily keywords (happiness + McCarthy + crime)

  • Quite dissapointed with Ustadh Hamza. He made too many generalisations about some topics and it's a shame he didnt present a more balanced view of those with whome he disagrees with.

  • well glad u have realised it, he is on his way to apostasy with some of the things he has said in this video. just look at his talks 10 yrs ago, he would champion the shariah, and now he is claiming democracy is the way forward and their should be a seperation of church and state. this is what happens when people do not practice Quran 5:51, they start changing the deen so they are accepted more by the unbelievers.

  • There we go again, calling people dirty, apostate or kufur this and kufar that. This whole idea of throwing baby out with the bath water is very damaging to us Muslims. I am a very avid reader of history myself. I personally find gems in all schools of thoughts, weather Mutazila, Ashari or later theological. Even scholars and theologens from other traditions have great things to teach about life, like Plato, Socrates and others. Early christian theologens have great contributions.

  • When you start your conversation by Saying "Dirty Sufi" you have already broken the rule of ADAB (respect) in Islam and should not give your opinion..Don't know if prophet pbuh ever started his conversation this way….many of us respect the great scholars of all schools and hear them and learn from them…if you disagree …there is a way to do it ..Peace..

  • If he is a representative of Suffism and you, with your questionnable manners, a representative of the Salafis, people with an iota of judgement and common sense would know with whome to side. Brother, this attitude is contrary to the noble guidance of our beautiful religion. May Allah forgive us all!

  • Then, by your logic, I am a dead man walking. You see, though I was born in a muslim state, Morocco, I only started embracing religion at the age of 19. I was enthusiastic in my repentence that I went to extremes, making me to let go after only one year (astarfighu Allh) : This is a warning to all of you, brothers and sisters, no extreme attitudes in our din.
    I rejected almost everything and became almost agnostic (well, I still had some imane but mixed feelings). Alhamdulillah, Allah has…

  • , in his mercy, made a sabab (a cause) for me to repent and make tawba, and I wish that Allah guides my heart till the day I die. So, shall I send you my adress for you to come along and kill the apostate that I had been?

  • yeah, if you were in an Islamic state and after being given the 3 days to repent you would have been a dead man walking. it is through Allah swt's mercy and decree that you did not apostate where the shariah was implemented and that you would be able to come back to Islam.

  • well from that comment you have shown just how confused your Islam is. you are praising a sect considered by the vast majority to be heretical, the mutazila as well as praising christian theologians. am sure you have some very confused views as well. May Allah swt guide you.

  • of course i wouldnt kill you. firstly because you repented and came back to Islam, secondly because that punishment is for the Islamic state to carry out, not any individual. as for my bad character, hamza yusuf is a sly snake who tried to take a cheap shot at the true Muslims. he also made numerous statements of possible kufr in this talk, including saying there should be seperation of mosque and state.

  • Hamza Yusef is CLEARLY NOT a Sufi! Where did these people get this idea? Read the works and writings of our greatest Islamic theologians from the past and you will see that Hamza Yusef is NOT saying anything NEW! Why are Muslims today so behind in technological and scientific advancement? When Muslims used to think like Hamza Yusef it was the Golden Age of Islam where we were the leaders in science, medicine, mathematics etc… It is only the backward who believe that Hamza Yusef is a Sufi.

  • I hope I am not true in this. Of course the Muslims are the most egalitarian and the Lamas of Tibet are the least egalitarian to those of their faith and the Jews do not even grant spiritual autonomy to non Jews. Therefor the approach to misery after death is in no way fair. This is especially true in the case of high status murders as many low status common people are much more likely to encounter extreme pain after death.

  • actually he acknowledges that he is a student of the maliki school and in all my years of listening to his lectures he has never claimed to be "sufi"

  • he is maliki, and sufi as well. normative mainstream muslims, who follow the four madhabs, often times follow the different tariqas of tasawuf. One of the teachers of Hamza Yusuf is Muhammad al Yaqoubi – Shadhli tariqa

  • For Sufis, all the religions are equal——-Sufi grand master Ibn Arabi and Christians.—-IBN ARABI and CHRISTIANS
    Christians’ mistake is only to limit divinity to Isa (aleyhi salam)
    Ibn ‘Arabi wrote in the chapter of ‘Isa (aleyhi salam) :
    “Allah said, "They are unbelievers who say, 'Allah is the Messiah, the son of Maryam.'" (Qur'an 5:17, 5:72.)
    They fell into both error and disbelief at the end of all they said, not because they say that he is Allah nor by calling him the son of Maryam”
    Mulla Ali Al-Qari in his “Ibtal Al-Qawl” p 137 quoted the explanation of the Sufi Al-Badlisi from his explanation of “Fusus ul-Hikam”: “The commentators of “Al-Fusus” such as Al-Qaysari, Al-Jundi, Al-Jami all agree that the meaning of the Shaykh (Ibn ‘Arabi) by this statement is that they (Christians) did not become disbelievers except by limiting Al-Haqq (Allah) to ‘Isa, because He (Ta’ala) is not limited rather he (Subhanahu) is manifested in the whole universe.”

    So Mulla Ali Al-Qari showed that all Sufis that commented “Al-Fusus” say that Kufr does not occur by saying that ‘Isa is Allah, but by combining this saying with the saying that he is the son of Maryam, meaning limiting Allah to ‘Isa. If one says that ‘Isa is Allah like the rest of the creation, this is correct for ibn ‘Arabi.
    Because of these heretic beliefs, Ibn Arabi was declared KAFIR by Muslim scholars

  • God addresses Muslims, Jews, and Christians with the following:
    "We have assigned a law and a path to each of you. If God had so willed, He would have made you one community, but He wanted to test you through that which He has given you, so race to do good: you will all return to God and He will make clear to you the matters you differed about."
    from "The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)" by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem

  • I admire that Hamza is disciplined and well studied, but he waste all that apologizing for Islam and antiquated ideas.

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