Yusuf at Yale University, 2016
1958 (age 61–62)
|Occupation||Islamic scholar, author|
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (born Mark Hanson; 1958) is an American Islamic scholar and co-founder of Zaytuna College. He is a proponent of classical learning in Islam and has promoted Islamic sciences and classical teaching methodologies throughout the world.
He is an advisor to the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. 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. He also serves as vice-president of the UAE-based Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, where Abdullah bin Bayyah also serves as president.
He is one of the signatories of A Common Word Between Us and You, an open letter by Islamic scholars to Christian leaders calling for peace and understanding. Yusuf was also one of the signatories of an open letter to former-ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that refuted the principles promoted by the terrorist organization. The Guardian has referred to Yusuf as "arguably the West's most influential Islamic scholar," and The New Yorker magazine also called him "perhaps the most influential Islamic scholar in the Western world.". He has been listed in the top 50 of The 500 Most Influential Muslims (also known as The Muslim 500) an annual publication compiled by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan, which ranks the most influential Muslims in the world.
Early life and education
Yusuf was born as Mark Hanson in Walla Walla, Washington to two academics working at Whitman College and he was raised in northern California. He grew up as a practicing Irish Catholic Christian and attended prep schools on both the East and West coasts. In 1977, after a near-death experience in a car accident and reading the Qur'an, he converted from Christianity to Islam. Yusuf has Irish, Scottish and Greek ancestry.
After being impressed by a young couple from Saudi Arabia who were followers of Abdalqadir as-Sufi—a Scottish convert to Islam and leader of the Darqawa Sufi order and the Murabitun World Movement—Yusuf moved to Norwich, England to study directly under as-Sufi. In 1979, Yusuf moved to Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates where he spent the next four years studying Sharia sciences at the Islamic Institute, more often on a one-on-one basis with Islamic scholars. Yusuf became fluent in the Arabic language and also studied Qur'anic recitation (tajwid), rhetoric, poetry, law (fiqh) and theology (aqidah) among other classical Islamic disciplines.
In 1984, Yusuf formally disassociated himself from as-Sufi's teachings and moved in a different intellectual direction having been influenced by a number of Mauritanian scholars residing in the Emirates. He moved to North Africa in 1984 studying in Algeria and Morocco, as well as Spain and Mauritania. In Mauritania he developed his most lasting and powerful relationship with Islamic scholar Sidi Muhammad Ould Fahfu al-Massumi, known as Murabit al-Hajj.
In 2020, Yusuf completed his PhD from the Graduate Theological Union with dissertation title: "The Normative Islamic Tradition in North and West Africa: A Case Study of Transmission of Authority and Distillation of Knowledge in Ibn Ashir’s Al-Murshid al-mu’in (The Helpful Guide)".
He and other colleagues founded the Zaytuna Institute in Berkeley, California, United States, in 1996, dedicated to the revival of traditional study methods and the sciences of Islam. 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. 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". Zaytuna College became the first accredited Muslim campus in the United States after it received approval from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Yusuf stated that "We hope, God willing, that there will be more such Muslim colleges and universities to come".
In December 2016, Yusuf made comments that may be perceived as critical of the tactics employed by the Black Lives Matter Movement. Yusuf claimed there were more endemic issues facing the black community within, such as the breakdown of family. He also raised concerns about racist sentiments in the muslim community, where the condemnation of 'white privilege' is fierce, but silent on 'Arab privilege', citing the treatment of Pakistanis and Indians in some parts of the Arab world. This set ablaze a storm of social media hate, but many scholars defended Shaykh Yusuf, such as Imam Zaid Shakir who stated, " I can say with absolute confidence that there is not a racist bone in Shaykh Hamza’s body. A racist is someone who believes in the superiority of one race over another. Shaykh Hamza, like any serious Muslim, totally rejects that idea.".
Yusuf participates in the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies hosted by the UAE. He praised the UAE for its increasing tolerance, which has been evident as the UAE adopts multi-faith initiatives and plans to build a multi-faith centre in Abu Dhabi.
Comments on the Syrian Revolution
In 2019, a video was released in which Yusuf urges patience and caution in relation to the Syrian crisis. Although some viewed these comments as supportive of the Syrian regime, this has been unequivocally rejected by Yusuf, who apologised for any hurt caused.  Many critics of Yusuf do not accept the classical Sunni position that Yusuf applied to the Syrian crisis, which is recognised in all traditional Islamic books on revolutions. Yusuf translated a poem titled the 'Prayer of the Oppressed' in 2010, dedicated to all oppressed peoples all around the world.
Views and influence
Yusuf has taken a stance against religious justifications for terrorist attacks. He described the 9/11 attacks as "an act of mass murder, pure and simple". Condemning the attacks, he also stated that "Islam was hijacked ... on that plane as an innocent victim."
Hamza lives with his wife, Liliana Trujilo-Hanson and they have five children.
|Beyond schooling: building communities where learning really matters||Also includes essays by John Taylor Gatto, Dorothy L Sayers and Nabila Hanson. Re-edited in 2010 as Educating Your Child in Modern Times: How to Raise an Intelligent, Sovereign & Ethical Human Being.||2003||Books and Pamphlets|
|Agenda to Change our Condition||Co-authored with Zaid Shakir||Books and Pamphlets|
|Caesarean Moon Births: Calculations, Moon Sighting, and the Prophetic Way||Available in||2008||Books and Pamphlets|
|Imām Busiri, The Burda: Poem of the Cloak (2003)||Includes a CD of performances by The Fez Singers feat. Bennis Abdelfettah.||Translations|
|Imām Mawlūd, Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart (2004, 2012).||Translation and commentary of the poem Maṭharat al-Qulūb composed by a 19th-century Mauritanian scholar.||Translations|
|Shaykh Al-Amin Mazrui, The Content of Character (2004)||Foreword by Ali Mazrui, son of the author.||Translations|
|Imām Ṭaḥāwī, The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi (2007).||Translations|
|Imām Muhammad bin Nasir al-Dar'i||The Prayer of the Oppressed (2010). Includes a CD of performances by The Fez Singers.||Translations|
|Imām al-Zarnūjī, Instruction of the Student: The Method of Learning (2001).||Translated by G.E. Von Grunebaum.||Books with a foreword or introduction|
|Mostafa Al-Badawî, The Prophetic Invocations (2003)||Books with a foreword or introduction|
|Reza Shah-Kazemi, Common Ground Between Islam and Buddhism: Spiritual and Ethical Affinities (2010)||Books with a foreword or introduction|
|Asad Tarsin, Being Muslim: A Practical Guide (2015).||Books with a foreword or introduction|
|Joseph Lumbard, Submission, faith and beauty: the religion of Islam (2009).||Co-edited with Zaid Shakir.||Edited Books|
|Caesarean Moon Births Part 1||Papers|
- Grewal, Zareena (2014). Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority. New York University Press. p. 129. ISBN 1479800562.
- E. Curtis, Edward (2009). The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States. Columbia University Press. p. 405. ISBN 0231139578.
- Cesari, Jocelyne (2004). When Islam and Democracy Meet: Muslims in Europe and in the United States. Pelgrave MacMillan. p. 150. ISBN 1403978565.
- "Prominent Malikis in the American milieu include the founder of the Zaytuna Institute Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson". Jocelyne Cesari, Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States, p 23.
- "إضاءات :. حمزة يوسف". youtube.com.
- Lumbard, Joseph E. B. (2009). Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition: Essays by Western Muslim Scholars. World Wisdom, Inc. p. 40. ISBN 1933316667.
- Al-Rasheed, M. (2005). Transnational Connections and the Arab Gulf. Psychology Press. p. 175. ISBN 1134323999.
- "Islam 'hijacked' by terror". BBC. London. October 11, 2001. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
- Khan, Riz (June 17, 2007). "Sheikh Hamza Yusuf The American Islamic scholar discusses building bridges between Islam and the west". al-Jazeera. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
- Grewal, Zareena (2014). Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority. New York University Press. p. 377. ISBN 1479800562.
- Cesari, Jocelyne (2007). Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States. Greenwood Press. p. 643. ISBN 0313336253.
- "Carnegie Workshop Biographies". 10 May 2012.
- "Introducing global center for renewal and guidance « Bin Bayyah". binbayyah.net. Archived from the original on 2012-11-12.
- Haque, Mozammel. "Introducing global center for renewal and guidance". Saudi Gazette. Archived from the original on December 19, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
- Yusuf, Hamza (2016-06-24). "Opinion | The Orlando shooter Googled my name. I wish he had reached out to me". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-01-20.
- "Signatories - A Common Word Between Us and You". acommonword.com.
- College, Zaytuna (2014-09-24). "A Letter responding to #ISIS leader al-Baghdadi and signed by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf as well as 125 Sunni scholars... http://fb.me/6M9gDKUy1". @zaytunacollege. Retrieved 2020-01-16. External link in
- O'Sullivan, Jack (October 7, 2001). "If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
- Romig, Rollo (May 20, 2013). "Where Islam Meets America". New Yorker. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
- "Hamza Yusuf Hanson". The Muslim 500. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
- O'Sullivan, Jack (October 7, 2001). "If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country". The Guardian. London.
- Grewal, Zareena Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority p 160-171
- Ukeles, Raquel The Evolving Muslim Community in America: The Impact of 9/11 p 101
- Grewal, Zareena (2014). Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority. New York University Press. p. 161. ISBN 1479800562.
- Daniel Brumberg, Dina Shehata, Conflict, Identity, and Reform in the Muslim World: Challenges for U.S Engagement, p 367
- "Zaytuna College". zaytunacollege.org. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- Song, Jason (March 11, 2015). "Muslim college gains accreditation". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
- "US gets its first accredited Muslim college". The Express Tribune. March 12, 2015. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
- "Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson". The Muslim 500. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
- Bokth, Noshin (2019-07-19). "The controversy of Hamza Yusuf being appointed Human Rights Adviser to the Trump administration - TMV". Retrieved 2019-09-28.
- Hamza Yusuf under fire for comments about the Syrian revolution, retrieved 2019-09-28
- Hilal, Maha. "It's time for Muslim Americans to condemn Hamza Yusuf". aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
- "Hamza Yusuf and the struggle for the soul of western Islam". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
- 5Pillars (2016-12-25). "Hamza Yusuf stokes controversy with comments about Black Lives Matter and political Islam". 5Pillars. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
- "Influential Muslim scholar criticised for calling the UAE a 'tolerant country'". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
- "Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and The RIS Conference Controversy". Mvslim. 2017-01-02. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
- "Imam Zaid Shakir". facebook.com. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
- "Plans for multi-faith centre in Abu Dhabi presented to the UN". The National. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
- "Hamza Yusuf issues apology for 'hurting feelings' with Syria comments". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
- Arab, The New. "Outrage as Hamza Yusuf releases video mocking Syrian refugees". alaraby. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
- Yusuf, Hamza. "Don't Curse the People of Syria". Youtube.
- Don't Curse the People of Syria - Hamza Yusuf, retrieved 2020-04-26
- Cohen, Charles L.; Numbers, Ronald L. (2013). Gods in America: Religious Pluralism in the United States. Oxford University Press. p. 186. ISBN 0199931925.
- O'Sullivan, Jack (2001-10-08). "'If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
- "The 2016 Edition is Here!" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-26. Retrieved 2017-06-04.
- Esposito, J. (2009). The 500 Most Influential Muslims. Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. p. 86. ISBN 978-9957-428-37-2.
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