Hamza Yusuf

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Not to be confused with Humza Yousaf.
Hamza Yusuf
Hamza Yusuf 2010 Doha.jpg
Hamza Yusuf at Doha Academy Education Conference in Qatar, 2010.
Born Mark Hanson
1960 (age 53–54)[1]
Walla Walla, Washington, United States
Residence Northern California, United States
Alma mater San Jose State University[2][3][4]
Occupation Islamic scholar, author
Religion Islam[5]
Spouse(s) Liliana Hanson

Hamza Yusuf is an American Muslim scholar,[6][7][8][9][10] and is co-founder of Zaytuna College.[11][12] He is a proponent of classical learning in Islam and has promoted Islamic sciences and classical teaching methodologies throughout the world.[13]

He is an advisor to the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.[14] He also serves as a member of the board of advisors of George Russell's One Nation, a national philanthropic initiative that promotes pluralism and inclusion in America. In addition, he serves as vice-president for the Global Center for Guidance and Renewal, which was founded and is currently presided over by Abdallah bin Bayyah.[15][16]

He is one of the signatories[17] of A Common Word Between Us and You, an open letter by Islamic scholars to Christian leaders, calling for peace and understanding. The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom reported that "Hamza Yusuf is arguably the west's most influential Islamic scholar."[18] Similarly, The New Yorker magazine reported that Yusuf is "perhaps the most influential Islamic scholar in the Western world".[19]

Early life[edit]

Yusuf was born as Mark Hanson to two academics in Washington State and raised in Northern California.[11] He grew up a practicing Greek Orthodox Christian and attended prep schools on both the east and west coasts. In 1977, after a near-death experience and reading the Qur'an, he converted to Islam from Christianity[11] (he seemed destined for the Greek Orthodox priesthood at his early age).[20] Yusuf has Irish, Scottish and Greek ancestry.[18]


Soon after converting, Yusuf moved to England, Spain, and eventually Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates to pursue serious study of Islam.[21] There he primarily studied Arabic and also served as a muezzin of a local mosque. There he was introduced to Mauritanian scholars and began more serious study of various Islamic disciplines including Maliki fiqh. This eventually led him to travel to Mauritania itself in order to study directly with the renowned scholar and sage of the land, Sidi Muhammad ould Fahfu al-Massumi, more famously known as Murabit al-Hajj.[22] During his intermittent stays there, Yusuf both lived and studied directly with Murabit al-Hajj.[23]



He and other colleagues founded the Zaytuna Institute in Berkeley, California, United States, in 1996,[11] dedicated to the revival of traditional study methods and the sciences of Islam.[24] In the early 2000s he was joined by additional colleagues Zaid Shakir and Hatem Bazian in further establishing what was then Zaytuna Institute. Eventually, in the fall of 2010 it would open its doors as Zaytuna College, a four-year Muslim liberal arts college, the first of its kind in the United States.[25] It incorporates Yusuf's vision of combining the classical liberal arts - based in the trivium and quadrivium - with rigorous training in traditional Islamic disciplines. It aims to "educate and prepare morally committed professional, intellectual, and spiritual leaders."[26]


Yusuf has taken a stance against religious justifications for terrorist attacks.[27] He described the 9/11 attacks as "an act of 'mass murder, pure and simple'". Condemning the attacks, he has also stated "Islam was hijacked ... on that plane as an innocent victim".[18]


Jordan's Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre currently places him 42nd on its list of the top 500 most influential Muslims in the world.[28] The magazine Egypt Today described him as a kind of theological rock star, "the Elvis Presley of western Muslims."[29] Recently, Hamza Yusuf was ranked as "the Western world's most influential Islamic scholar" by The 500 Most Influential Muslims, edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin (2009).[30]


Books and pamphlets authored

  • Prayer of the Oppressed (2011) - with CD[31][32]
  • The Burda (2003) [33]
  • Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart (2004) [34][35]
  • The Content of Character (2004) [36]
  • The State We Are In: Identity, Terror, and the Law of Jihad (contributing Author) (2006)[37][38]
  • Educating your Child in Modern Times[41][42]

Books with forewords and notes

  • Instruction of the Student: The Method of Learning [43]
  • The Prophetic Invocations By Mostafa Al-Badawi [44]

Book edited with Zaid Shakir


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Muslim 500
  2. ^ Edward E. Curtis, The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States, p. 405. ISBN 0231139578
  3. ^ Shamim Akhter, Faith & Philosophy of Islam, p. 81. ISBN 8178357194
  4. ^ Jocelyne Cesari, When Islam and Democracy Meet: Muslims in Europe and in the United States, p. 150. ISBN 1403978565
  5. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfL0Fl9d0iA&feature=related at 4:22 a lecture by Hamza Yusuf on the Dajjal
  6. ^ Joseph E. B. Lumbard, Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition: Essays by Western Muslim Scholars (Perennial Philosophy Series), p 40. ISBN 1933316667
  7. ^ John Esposito, The 500 Most Influential Muslims, p 86. ISBN 978-9975-428-37-2
  8. ^ Madawi Al-Rasheed, Transnational Connections and the Arab Gulf, p 175. ISBN 1134323999
  9. ^ http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/rizkhan/2007/06/200852519340511165.html
  10. ^ Mucahit Bilici, Finding Mecca in America: How Islam Is Becoming an American Religion, p 86. ISBN 0226922871
  11. ^ a b c d Edward E. Curtis, The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States, p. 405
  12. ^ Z. Grewal, Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority, p 377
  13. ^ Jocelyne Cesari, Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States, p 643
  14. ^ Carnegie Workshop Biographies | Graduate Theological Union
  15. ^ Introducing global center for renewal and guidance « Bin Bayyah
  16. ^ Introducing global center for renewal and guidance | Islam | Saudi Gazette
  17. ^ Signatories | A Common Word Between Us and You
  18. ^ a b c O'Sullivan, Jack (October 7, 2001). "If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country". The Guardian (London). Retrieved November 22, 2011. 
  19. ^ http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/where-islam-meets-america
  20. ^ O'Sullivan, Jack (October 7, 2001). "If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country". The Guardian (London). 
  21. ^ Raquel Ukeles, The Evolving Muslim Community in America: The Impact of 9/11, p 101
  22. ^ Z. Grewal, Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority, p 161
  23. ^ Another Mother of the Believers | AE
  24. ^ Daniel Brumberg, Dina Shehata, Conflict, Identity, and Reform in the Muslim World: Challenges for U.S Engagement, p 367
  25. ^ ZAYTUNA COLLEGE | About > A Brief History
  26. ^ ZAYTUNA COLLEGE | About > Our Mission
  27. ^ Charles L. Cohen, Ronald L. Numbers, Gods in America: Religious Pluralism in the United States, p 186
  28. ^ The 2013/14 Edition is Here!
  29. ^ Elmhurst College: Modern Lessons from an Ancient Faith
  30. ^ "The 500 most influential Muslims in the world". Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. Archived from the original on October 2, 2010. Retrieved October 2, 2010. 
  31. ^ The Prayer of the Oppressed: Imam Muhammad b. Nasir al-DarÏ, Hamza Yusuf
  32. ^ The Prayer Of The Oppressed: Amazon.co.uk: Imam Muhammad b. Nasir al-Dar'i, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf: Books
  33. ^ The Burda: The Poem of the Cloak (CD Audio Book): Amazon.co.uk: Imam Salih Sharaf ud-Din Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Hasan al Busiri, Hamza Yusuf: Books
  34. ^ Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart: Amazon.co.uk: Hamza Yusuf: Books
  35. ^ Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart. By Hamza Yusuf
  36. ^ The Content of Character: Ethical Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad: Amazon.co.uk: Books
  37. ^ Amal Press
  38. ^ The State We are in: Identity, Terror and the Law of Jihad: Amazon.co.uk: Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Tahir Abbas, Yahya Birt, H.A. Hellyer, Aftab Ahmad Malik: Books
  39. ^ The Creed of Imam Al-Tahawi: Amazon.co.uk: Hamza Yusuf: Books
  40. ^ The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi: Hamza Yusuf. Treatise on muslim belief
  41. ^ Educating Your Child in Modern Times: Amazon.co.uk: John Taylor Gatto, Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Dorothy Sayers, Nabila Hanson: Books
  42. ^ Educating Your Child in Modern Times - Raising an intelligent, sovereign & ethical human being: 4 CD set - Hamza Yusuf, John Taylor Gatto
  43. ^ Instruction of the Student: The Method of Learning: Amazon.co.uk: Imam al-Zarnuji, Hamza Yusuf, Gustave E. von Grunebaum: Books
  44. ^ Amazon.com: The Prophetic Invocations (9781929694105): Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi, Hamza Yusuf: Books

External links[edit]