Hamza Yusuf’s absurd views on Hijab

One of the instrumental figures in shaping my Islāmic life and enabling it to grow as a result, was Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. I remember being introduced to one of his fiery speeches back in the late 90s. The talk ‘Dajjal and the new world order’, catapulted me into learning more about Islam. Prior to this encounter, my idea of Islam was pretty much pessimistic, at best. On a daily basis, i would attend the after school evening madrasas to learn how to read Arabic texts and nothing more. Occasionally, getting beaten up by the dreaded imam with the stick and then coming home after class to yet another evening of the same mundane homework. This was my understanding of Islam. – You go to the mosque, get beaten up, and then come back home. Only to repeat the same procedures the next day. There was no thirst to learn Islam. Simply, because i had not really ‘seen’ Islam, free from the usual rituals of after school evening madrasas.

In the late 90’s the Islāmic after school madrasas, were nothing like it is today. Although it would be safe to say, there is much improvement still needed. It has improved nonetheless. I remember it being as ‘the-most-hated’ activity of the day, sort of thing. Where after school we (inc the other kids) would dread going to the class out of sheer distaste and boredom. We certainly didn’t learn the Islam we were meant to, save only learning how to read and regurgitate the surahs being barked at us by the man with the stick! But, Shaykh Hamza’s speech opened my eye to a far greater and a more beautiful picture of Islam, than what i was accustomed to. I realized then, there is more to what meets the eye. The contents of the talk, the fashion and the tone in which it was delivered, rallied me to learn more about Islam and to search out more lectures by Shaykh Hamza. Another reason which spurred me on was the fact that, he was the first convert Muslim scholar i had ever come across. I was taken about by the fact how he, despite all the freedom he had as a non-Muslim; the chance to drink, dance, have girlfriends, chill-out late into the night etc, would choose to leave all that behind and come into a restricted and rigid religion. As i was seeing it at that time anyway. His lecture totally revolutionized my perception of Islam. For that i am grateful to him and make dua he continues to help others.

Fast forwarding a few years to the early 21st century, Allah blessed me by giving the chance to meet my shaykh. For whom i am continually grateful for.
Anyway, for some time now, my concerns about sidi hamza yusuf has grown steadily. Not that i am qualified to teach or direct him, Or, to judge him. But, as a concerned brother in Islam. I have noticed how (as i have mentioned it before), his views and the language of address has changed alarmingly post 9/11. To the point, the Hamza Yusuf i had known in the late 90s is no longer with us. His views and outlook on Islam has changed in such dramatic fashion! For a while i had heard some disturbing news about his views on Hijab. I had wished to leave this aside and let him clarify what his views actually are about the hijab. Sad to say, it seems, he is only festering his views on hijab further, and not withdrawing the controversial remarks. In 2010, in a response to a question he wrote in his article on sandala.org about ‘Empower our women as spokespeople’:

While I am personally committed to the injunctions of modest dress for men and women, I think we absolutely must get beyond the wedge issues in our community, such as who wears a headscarf and who doesn’t, and recognize that we are all in this together, and that people’s outward degrees of religiosity do not determine their loyalty to the faith in any substantial way [1]. While the ideal is inward and outward congruity, nonetheless, we have people whose outward displays are of religiosity while their inward reality is hypocrisy; contrariwise, we have people who have no outward display of religiosity but are actually doing much more than the average Muslim to help Islam and the Muslims [2]. It is important to get beyond judging people according to stereotypical expectations of what a good Muslim is or is not. I heard a wise person state, “The trappings can be a trap,” and I completely agree. We have brilliant, committed Muslim women who do not wear a headscarf and are extremely effective, and they should be centralized, not marginalized [3]. These women can reach people much more effectively in many but certainly not all cases. Here again, a case-by-case assessment is important. The majority of American Muslim women do not wear a headscarf, and to always assume that only a woman in hijab should be chosen to represent Muslims is a misrepresentation of the diversity of our community [4].

[1] He says;

“I think we absolutely must get beyond the wedge issues in our community, such as who wears a headscarf and who doesn’t, and recognize that we are all in this together, and that people’s outward degrees of religiosity do not determine their loyalty to the faith in any substantial way”.

This sort of responses from a highly influential ‘scholar’ only serves to give support and fuel to liberalist Muslims like Mona Eltahawy, who argue to case against the hijab. Calling it backward and an ancient cultural clothing imported from Arab cultures. It allows people like Mona Eltahawy, to completely throw the Quranic injunctions of the hijab out the window and totally disregard it. It further gives an unjustifiable right to those people who champion ‘hijab of the heart is far more important than the hijab of the body’.

[2] He says:

we have people whose outward displays are of religiosity while their inward reality is hypocrisy; contrariwise, we have people who have no outward display of religiosity but are actually doing much more than the average Muslim to help Islam and the Muslims

Regardless if a person is pious or not from the inside. We as Muslims must obey the divine laws of Allah. We have no right to say, if a particular person may seem to be a hypocrite, or have some weakness, she should not wear the hijab. Nor does it allow only pious women to wear it. People’s personal inner state is a matter with them and Allah. What we must live by the God-given laws. No matter if we seem to have a clean heart or not. The Quranic injunctions is ‘ALL women MUST wear the hijab’, period.

[3]
He carries on:

It is important to get beyond judging people according to stereotypical expectations of what a good Muslim is or is not. I heard a wise person state, “The trappings can be a trap,” and I completely agree. We have brilliant, committed Muslim women who do not wear a headscarf and are extremely effective, and they should be centralized, not marginalized

How can you decide or even allude to the the idea, Muslim women who wear the hijab are not ‘brilliant’ or aren’t as ‘effective’?. Secondly, the women who choose not to wear the head scarf and yet seem to you as ‘effective and brilliant’, are lacking the foundations to stand on. The basic injunction of Islam for women is to wear the hijab. It does not matter how forward thinking a person may be, if the foundation is not there, then the castle they’ve built on sand will not last long. Sooner than later, it will be swept away by the satanic tides of the world.

[4] He adds;

The majority of American Muslim women do not wear a headscarf, and to always assume that only a woman in hijab should be chosen to represent Muslims is a misrepresentation of the diversity of our community

If majority of American Muslim women do not wear the hijab, then change this perception! Teach them to wear it. Don’t just ‘live and let be’. If an evil is rampant in society, then you must do what you can to decrease its effects. Not leave it be and say, ‘well that’s the norm. i cant do anything’. That is an attitude of the non-Muslim! You should love whats good in a society and change whats bad. Secondly, Yes, only a Muslim woman who wears the hijab should be chosen to represent the Muslim community. Why? Because, not doing so, will have negative re-precautions in our communities. The hijabi muslimah will be a role model to the hundreds, if not thousands of other Muslim women. Now if they begin to see a leading Muslim woman, chosen by the community elders. Does not wear a hijab, what moral ground do you think they will find to wear one? One can already see the evil of his own doing. All the women will slowly begin to remove hijabs and take a stand like her. ‘In order to be accepted in society, be seen as a modern Muslim woman, i must remove the hijab. Begin to wear skin-tight clothes and go out all guns blazing’.

This is just one example of the ludicrous claims he is advocating these days. His views, which is held in reverence by the majority of Muslims, especially American Muslims, is only giving strength to the twisted, evil and government sponsored ‘Muslim’ groups like Progressive Muslims to advance their ideas into other territories. It is not surprising to know why these groups are emerging from the close headquarters of Hamza yusuf in Los Angeles, America.
Hamza Yusuf is beginning to sound more like Robert Spencer. His tone of address, the condescendingly demeanor attitude towards the Muslim world. Only justifies the remarkable resemblance. It appears, he too like Spencer and Pamela Geller, see Islam is in need of change. Change from the ancient 7th century, cave dwelling and camel riding days to the modern age of liberalism, open free sex and dance. He is beginning to sound more alike the ‘critics’, the bigots, and the anti-Islam commentators who come on prime time television on FOX news. Slowly beginning to distance himself from the traditional Islam which was layed by OUR founding fathers, the prophet (sallahualihiwasalam) and the companions.

His infamous Youtube video on hijab widely circulated among the modernist Muslim groups is only the tip of the ice burg on how far and dangerously distant he has become, from that of traditional Islam. He makes ludicrous and absurd claims Umar (radiallahuanhu) did not allow slave women to wear the hijab. He then goes on to couple this with, apparently a historical fact that, “there were women who walked bare breasted in Madinah”. (God forbid) First of all, to desecrate and defame the honor and reverence of one of the greatest companion of the prophet (sallahualihiwasalam), the master of all the lovers, the second most blessed person on earth after the prophets, Umar (radiAllahuanhu). Is a major sin in Islam, in extension to this, to disrespect any companion is a grave sin.
Secondly, the tone in which he alludes to this fanciful claim is shocking. Showing no thought, or consideration to the consequences it will have. As if to say, ‘Umar (radhiallahuanhu) was the cause of disruption and chaos which eventually follows in madinah, during the time of Yazeed and his henchmen. (Astagfirullah)!

  • We do not take our Islam from ‘Historical facts’. Nothing is free from error, prejudiced and based on biased reporting other than the Qur’an and the sunnah. For all we know, the supposed ‘historical facts’ which he is referring to may have been added in by the enemies of Umar (radhiAllahuanhu) and the enemies of Islam. To mock, disrespect and devalue Umar (radiAllahuanhu).
  • After all, he was the one who more or less, shaped the governance of the modern world from creating the of child benefits system, to that of state benefits and trade regualtions.

    To round-up. It is clear Hamza Yusuf understands that, as long as we hold on to our traditional and firmly grounded God-given laws, we will not advance in the world. Nor, be able to compete with the western world. On their ideals of ethics, education, business, society, public engagements etcetera. Just as America is trying to bomb its way into enforcing ‘democracy’. Trying to create a ‘free’ world’. Hamza Yusuf, is also trying to do the same thing, but with islam that is, to create a ‘Free islam’.

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