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Muslim society ‘has lost ability to strategise’

By Zaigham Ali Mirza / 3 November 2004

DUBAI — The Muslim society has lost the ability of strategic thinking, which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) exemplified by compromising on several points with the enemy when he signed the Treaty of Hudaibia, said leading American Muslim, Shaikh Hamza Yousuf, at a lecture on Monday.

Yousuf was responding to a question from a member of the packed-to-capacity audience, after a lecture by Yousuf Islam, the famous British pop singer who embraced Islam three decades ago. The event was part of the lecture series organised on the sidelines of the ongoing Eighth Session of the Dubai International Holy Quran Award.

Elaborating his point, Shaikh Hamza Yousuf said, “There are times when you have to live like a sheep in order to live in the future like a lion.”

Earlier in the event, Yousuf Islam exalted the virtues that identify the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), and described him as the very personification of compassion and generosity.

Talking about his conversion to Islam, he pointed out that the distortion that is lent to Islam through propaganda is so strong that ignorant people tend to take it for an alien religion.

“The Holy Quran talks about the eternal religion. So what is this eternal religion all about? Believe in the oneness of God, offer prayers and practise charity. And how much of this do we get to see in the media?” he asked.

Yousuf Islam pointed out that if more people were introduced to the true Islam, there would be peace, and this does not happen because the propaganda is strong.

He admitted that before he became a Muslim even he had a certain image about the faith, which changed as he began to read and understand Islam.

“The more I read the Quran, the more I realised that Islam is much more beautiful, much more profound than I had imagined it to be,” he said.

Yousuf Islam pointed out that despite its spiritual waywardness, the one good thing the West really teaches its people is to keep an open mind.

He said that the world today is polarised between the East (mainly Islam) and the West, “but the teachings of Islam are for the heart, not for a particular region or direction.”

The Traditions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), or Hadith, is a unique account of the lifestyle and behaviour of a messenger of God ever, and offers the Muslims a ready and detailed reference to living their lives as its reflection.

“So many have come and gone, and their teachings have changed..., sometimes people wonder if they really ever existed. The hadith, with its minute detail, makes sure that there are no queries left unanswered,” he said.

Earlier a seven-year old Tajik participant at the DIHQA, who has memorised the entire Holy Quran, commenced the proceedings with the recitation from the Holy Book.

Hamza’s humour

DUBAI — Shaikh Hamza Yousuf's sense of humour, witticism, a quick memory in recalling references from the Holy Quran endeared him immensely to the thousands who had come to attend the lecture. Here are some of the interesting things he had to say.

Shaikh Hamza Yousuf joked about an apparent mistake in the way Yousuf Islam's name was misspelled on the nameplate on his table, and pointed out that it was the same mistake that led the FBI to believe he was a terrorist. (He was recently detained at an American airport because of a mistaken identity and was denied entry into US.)

“Islam would spread a lot faster, if you drive a little better,” he said, referring to the driving sense of motorists in the UAE.

He recalled a news report in which European expatriates who had lived in the UAE said the greatest thing about the Emirates was its hospitality, while the one thing they hated was the driving sense of motorists here.

Replying to a question on Jihad, Shaikh Yousuf Hamza said that irrespective of what many say, Jihad is the duty and responsibility of all Muslims.

“Jihad is actually considered a Rahma (mercy) in Islam. If there is an oppressor and there is Jihad to stop his oppression, it is a mercy on him (the oppressor),” he said, adding that Islam, however, does not allow Muslims to terrorise prisoners and innocent people.



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