Zaytuna College Blog

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Hamza Yusuf is president of Zaytuna College. He is an advisor to Stanford University’s Program in Islamic Studies and the Center for Islamic Studies at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union. In addition, he serves as vice-president for the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, which was founded and is currently presided over by Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, one of the top jurists and masters of Islamic sciences in the world. Hamza Yusuf has been ranked as “the Western world’s most influential Islamic scholar” by The Muslim 500.
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Recent Posts

On the Passing of My Mother, Elizabeth George Hanson

Posted by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Aug 10, 2016 6:37:20 PM

My mother, Elizabeth Anne George Hanson, died last night with her hand in mine, surrounded by her children. She was ninety-five years old; when she was born, there was an Ottoman Caliph ruling much of the Muslim world. She lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights Movement, which she was actively involved in long before many others joined. My mother spent her life serving others. She never complained and was the most ethical person I have ever known. She hated bigotry, prejudice, and any form of discrimination. She spent her life fighting against injustice. Some of my earliest memories involve civil rights marches, on which she always brought along her children. She marched with Dr. King and Cesar Chavez, and even in her late eighties, she marched in San Francisco against the war in Iraq. All her life, she volunteered in various organizations and served for years on the Homeless Committee in Marin County. Even into her eighties, she volunteered teaching Mexican immigrants and farm workers how to speak, read, and write English, a language she loved and spoke beautifully.

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Topics: General

President Hamza Yusuf on CNN: A Voice Against Extremism

Posted by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Aug 9, 2016 9:15:31 PM

At Zaytuna College, we're not only committed to educating tomorrow's leaders but to having a public impact today -- by providing intellectual leadership for Muslims as well as for a broader global audience.  

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Topics: Muslim, Islam, Islamophobia, extremism

When Evil Fails and Goodness Prevails: Regarding the Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey

Posted by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Aug 8, 2016 12:32:04 AM

The world is, and has always been, a dystopia. There is no such thing as a perfect or flawless government, and any doctrine or ideology that entices people with the promise of a paradise on earth is flawed and demonic; the Devil tempted Adam with a “Dominion that would never end.” Democracies, liberal or otherwise, are profoundly imperfect systems. Monarchies are also flawed in many ways, but kings are far less susceptible to corruption, given their vast wealth, than elected leaders who often emerge from the petty bourgeois, with natural predilections to social status and ladder-climbing that invites corruption. Despite that, historically, many anti-monarchical movements were motivated by the decadence of monarchs out of touch with the people and ruling the moribund and collapsing empires of Europe and the East. Many of these rebels were well-intentioned people but became pawns in the hands of others with more nefarious schemes. The Ottomans were one of the great empires brought down by fifth columns from within that were often working in tandem with Western powers.

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Topics: Turkey Coup Attempt, Military Coup in Turkey, President Erdoğan

Fitna Will Come and Go, Knowledge Stays

Posted by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Jul 20, 2016 11:26:52 AM

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf emphasizes the importance of seeking sacred knowledge, even in times of fitna (tribulation), citing examples of great scholars like Shaykh Abdul-Wahid Ibn ‘Ashir and Mawlana Rumi, who lived through extreme times of fitna themselves.  Please watch the clip below, but also watch the full lecture and many more via

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Topics: Knowledge, Muslim Scholars, Fitna

The Plague Within

Posted by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Jul 5, 2016 3:56:18 PM

According to a good hadith related by Ahmad and al-Tabarani, the Messenger of God, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, said, “You will never believe until you show mercy to one another.”
“All of us are merciful, O Messenger of God!” his companions responded.
The Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, explained, “I’m not talking about one of you showing mercy to his friend; I’m talking about universal mercy—mercy towards everyone.”
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Posted by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Jun 29, 2016 12:39:02 PM

The month of Ramadan is a special time for purifying oneself, the greatest opportunity to implement the discussions and cures with regard to the heart. In fact, this is the purpose, blessing, and secret of the month. It is a remarkable event when the new moon of Ramadan is sighted, when eyes aim toward the horizon shortly after sunset and wait until suddenly a small sliver appears. Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi said in his commentary that the secret of Muslims following a lunar calendar as opposed to a solar calendar is that the sun is used for worldly benefits while the moon is used for other-worldly benefits. Witnessing the new moon is seeing emergence, as it is known in philosophy. The crescent suddenly emerges in the sky seemingly out of nothing. The reason the moon is not visible at first is because the sunlight is too strong. But as sunset progresses, the light diminishes on the horizon and the sunlight against the crescent itself becomes distinguished from the surrounding crimson sky. So what we actually see of the moon is the sun’s light reflected against the lunar sliver. In fact, anything that we see in creation is due to reflected light. And all light comes from God. Witnessing the birth of the new moon is pregnant with metaphor. The word hilal (crescent) is closely related to an Arabic word that refers to birth (istihlal). So what we see is actually the birth of reflected light.

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Topics: Muslim, Islam, Ramadan, Fasting, how to prepare for fasting, tips for fasting

A Joint Muslim Statement on the Carnage in Orlando

Posted by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Jun 16, 2016 12:51:30 PM

“We, as American Muslims, follow the openhearted and inclusive Islam of Muhammad Ali and completely reject the hatred, provincialism, and intolerance of those who trample upon the rights of others, besmirching and defiling the name of Islam.”

On June 13, 2016, Muslim leaders across North America signed the Orlando Statement. Signatories include Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, and many others.

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Topics: Muslim, Islam, orlando, orlando shooting, terrorism

Ramadan and Purification

Posted by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Jun 6, 2016 4:12:26 PM

Hunger can bring out the worst in us. In a wonderful scene in Shakespeare's As You Like It, a desperate and hungry Orlando comes upon Duke Senior and his exiled court in the forest, who are about to start dinner. Assuming the law of the jungle presides in Arden, Orlando brandishes his sword and demands food upon pain of death. Duke Senior rebukes him for his lack of civility, and wisely adds: "Your gentleness shall force, more than your force move us to gentleness." Orlando responds: "I almost die for food, and let me have it." Unfazed, the duke says: "Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." Orlando is shamed by the duke's gallantry and explains that hunger had bred violence in him.

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Topics: Islam, Fasting, purification, holy month of ramadan, muslims in america, purification in ramadan, muslims

The Purpose of Life in an Hour and a Half

Posted by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Dec 14, 2015 11:54:59 PM

Why would God, who needs nothing, create us to worship God, especially given that God has angels to do so and do so flawlessly? 

Given the choice, I would rather read a book than listen to a lecture. Books are wonderful companions: they offer their opinions, and if you disagree, they don’t seem to mind. I can reread when I find difficulty with what is written, and the book doesn’t think I’m stupid or get annoyed that I’m asking it to repeat itself, sometimes again and again. From a great author, I can acquire in a few hours what took him or her a lifetime of reflection and insight to realize. Despite that, on occasion, I have heard lectures that have moved me deeply. Recently, someone sent me a lecture insisting that I watch it. It was by an American convert to Islam (I don’t like the word “revert,” as we don’t revert to Islam; we convert – unless one was a Muslim, left it, and then returned), Dr. Jeffrey Lang, about the purpose of life. I found this lecture to be the most powerful I have ever heard from an American Muslim.

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Topics: life purpose, purpose of life, life purpose and religion

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