Hamza Yusuf

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Not to be confused with Humza Yousaf.
Hamza Yusuf
Hamza Yusuf at Yale University, 2016.
Title Shaykh
Born Mark Hanson
(1958-01-01) January 1, 1958 (age 59)
Walla Walla, Washington, U.S.
Era Modern era
Occupation Islamic scholar, author
Religion Islam
Denomination Sunni[1]
Jurisprudence Maliki[2]
Movement Sufi[3][4]
Sufi order Shadhili[5]
Website www.sandala.org
Personal Information
Residence Northern California, United States
Citizenship United States
Education San Jose State University[6][7]

Hamza Yusuf (born January 1, 1958)[8] is an American Islamic scholar,[7][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] and is co-founder of Zaytuna College.[6][16] He is a proponent of classical learning in Islam and has promoted Islamic sciences and classical teaching methodologies throughout the world.[17]

He is an advisor to the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.[18] 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.[19][20]

He is one of the signatories[21] 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."[13] Similarly, The New Yorker magazine reported that Yusuf is "perhaps the most influential Islamic scholar in the Western world."[22]

Early life[edit]

Yusuf was born as Mark Hanson to two academics in Washington state and he was raised in northern California.[6] 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[6] (he seemed destined for the Greek Orthodox priesthood at his early age).[23] Yusuf has Irish, Scottish and Greek ancestry.[13]


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.[24][25] 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.[24] 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.[24]

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.[26] In Mauritania he developed his most lasting and powerful relationship with Islamic scholar Sidi Muhammad Ould Fahfu al-Massumi, known as Murabit al-Hajj.[24]



He and other colleagues founded the Zaytuna Institute in Berkeley, California, United States, in 1996,[6] dedicated to the revival of traditional study methods and the sciences of Islam.[27] 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.[22] 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."[28] The Zaytuna Institute became the first accredited Muslim campus in the United States after it received approval from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.[29][30] Yusuf stated that "We hope, God willing, that there will be more such Muslim colleges and universities to come".[29]


Yusuf has taken a stance against religious justifications for terrorist attacks.[31] 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."[13]


Jordan's Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre currently places him 36th on its list of the top 500 most influential Muslims in the world.[32] The magazine Egypt Today described him as a kind of theological rock star, "the Elvis Presley of western Muslims."[33] In its 2016 edition Yusuf is described "as one of the foremost authorities on Islam outside of the Muslim world" by The 500 Most Influential Muslims, edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin.[34]

In the April 2016 issue of Dabiq Magazine, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant declared him a murtadd (or apostate).[35]


Books and pamphlets authored

Books with forewords and notes

  • Instruction of the Student: The Method of Learning [48]
  • The Prophetic Invocations By Mostafa Al-Badawi [49]

Book edited with Zaid Shakir


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grewal, Zareena (2014). Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority. New York University Press. p. 129. ISBN 1479800562. 
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ Pew Research Center: "Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe - Sufi Orders September 15, 2010
  4. ^ Geaves, Ron; Theodore, Gabriel (2013). Sufism in Britain. Bloomsbury 3PL. p. 172. ISBN 978-1441112613. 
  5. ^ Kugles, Scott Alan (2006). Rebel Between Spirit and Law: Ahmad Zarruq, Sainthood, and Authority in Islam. Indiana University Press. p. 8 and 16. ISBN 978-0253347114. He holds allegiance to a Sufi community with close historical ties to Morocco, asserting simply that his approach to Sufism is "Shadhili." 
  6. ^ a b c d e E. Curtis, Edward (2009). The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States. Columbia University Press. p. 405. ISBN 0231139578. 
  7. ^ a b Cesari, Jocelyne (2004). When Islam and Democracy Meet: Muslims in Europe and in the United States. Pelgrave MacMillan. p. 150. ISBN 1403978565. 
  8. ^ The Muslim 500
  9. ^ Bilici, Mucahit (2012). Finding Mecca in America: How Islam Is Becoming an American Religion. University of Chicago Press. p. 86. ISBN 0226922871. 
  10. ^ Lumbard, Joseph E. B. (2009). Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition: Essays by Western Muslim Scholars. World Wisdom, Inc. p. 40. ISBN 1933316667. 
  11. ^ Esposito, John (2009). The 500 Most Influential Muslims. Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. p. 86. ISBN 978-9957-428-37-2. 
  12. ^ Al-Rasheed, Madawi (2005). Transnational Connections and the Arab Gulf. Psychology Press. p. 175. ISBN 1134323999. 
  13. ^ a b c d O'Sullivan, Jack (October 7, 2001). "If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 22, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Islam 'hijacked' by terror". BBC. London. October 11, 2001. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ Grewal, Zareena (2014). Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority. New York University Press. p. 377. ISBN 1479800562. 
  17. ^ Cesari, Jocelyne (2007). Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States. Greenwood Press. p. 643. ISBN 0313336253. 
  18. ^ Carnegie Workshop Biographies | Graduate Theological Union
  19. ^ Introducing global center for renewal and guidance « Bin Bayyah
  20. ^ Haque, Mozammel. "Introducing global center for renewal and guidance". Saudi Gazette. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  21. ^ Signatories | A Common Word Between Us and You
  22. ^ a b Romig, Rollo (May 20, 2013). "Where Islam Meets America". New Yorker. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  23. ^ O'Sullivan, Jack (October 7, 2001). "If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country". The Guardian. London. 
  24. ^ a b c d Grewal, Zareena Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority p 160-171
  25. ^ Ukeles, Raquel The Evolving Muslim Community in America: The Impact of 9/11 p 101
  26. ^ Grewal, Zareena (2014). Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority. New York University Press. p. 161. ISBN 1479800562. 
  27. ^ Daniel Brumberg, Dina Shehata, Conflict, Identity, and Reform in the Muslim World: Challenges for U.S Engagement, p 367
  28. ^ ZAYTUNA COLLEGE | About > Our Mission
  29. ^ a b Song, Jason (March 11, 2015). "Muslim college gains accreditation". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 12, 2015. 
  30. ^ "US gets its first accredited Muslim college". The Express Tribune. March 12, 2015. Retrieved March 12, 2015. 
  31. ^ Cohen, Charles L.; Numbers, Ronald L. (2013). Gods in America: Religious Pluralism in the United States. Oxford University Press. p. 186. ISBN 0199931925. 
  32. ^ The 2016 Edition is Here!
  33. ^ Elmhurst College: Modern Lessons from an Ancient Faith
  34. ^ The 2016 Edition is Here!
  35. ^ "Kill the Imams of the West" (PDF). Dabiq 1437 Rajab (April - May 2016). Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (14): 13–14. Retrieved 2016-04-30. Of the Sūfī so-called “mainstream,” and perhaps the pinnacle of apostasy in Americanist Islam, is Hamza Yusuf. 
  36. ^ The Prayer of the Oppressed: Imam Muhammad b. Nasir al-DarÏ, Hamza Yusuf
  37. ^ The Prayer Of The Oppressed: Amazon.co.uk: Imam Muhammad b. Nasir al-Dar'i, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf: Books
  38. ^ 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
  39. ^ Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart: Amazon.co.uk: Hamza Yusuf: Books
  40. ^ Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart. By Hamza Yusuf
  41. ^ The Content of Character: Ethical Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad: Amazon.co.uk: Books
  42. ^ Amal Press
  43. ^ 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
  44. ^ The Creed of Imam Al-Tahawi: Amazon.co.uk: Hamza Yusuf: Books
  45. ^ The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi: Hamza Yusuf. Treatise on muslim belief
  46. ^ Educating Your Child in Modern Times: Amazon.co.uk: John Taylor Gatto, Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Dorothy Sayers, Nabila Hanson: Books
  47. ^ Educating Your Child in Modern Times - Raising an intelligent, sovereign & ethical human being: 4 CD set - Hamza Yusuf, John Taylor Gatto
  48. ^ Instruction of the Student: The Method of Learning: Amazon.co.uk: Imam al-Zarnuji, Hamza Yusuf, Gustave E. von Grunebaum: Books
  49. ^ Amazon.com: The Prophetic Invocations (9781929694105): Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi, Hamza Yusuf: Books

External links[edit]