In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful....
This Blog is a collaborative space containing global perspectives on Life,Religion & Culture.A collection of links, it is my own area of private thoughts.It also contains a little poetry.....
Monday, 8 June 2015
The Story of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s Conversion to Islam By Michael Sugich -
“The last time I saw him was in Los Angeles immediately after Anwar Sadat’s historic trip to Israel, which had endeared the Egyptian leader to the West and branded him a traitor to the Arab and Islamic world. Shaykh Al-Azhar [Dr. Abdul Halim Mahmoud, 1973-1978] had been sent by Sadat to the US on an official visit to reach out to the Muslim community in America. He gave a talk at UCLA, where we went to meet him. We were able to sit with the Shaykh for a while and then moved with his entourage to the Central Mosque in Los Angeles. He led the prayers. I was thrilled to stand shoulder to shoulder and pray beside the legendary qari (reciter of Qur’an) Shaykh Mahmoud Khalil Al-Houssari. Shaykh Al-Azhar then gave a press conference. I remember the reporter from Newsweek asked, tongue in cheek, “Do you think that America could become a Muslim country?” Shaykh Al-Azhar answered with a twinkle in his eye, “Why not? Americans believe in God and Islam is the religion of God. It is not impossible.” How things have changed.
Outside the mosque I met him. He greeted me warmly. I told him with some pride that three people had just converted to Islam with me. He smiled sweetly and said, “Why not three hundred?” His response left me defeated. Was he teaching me humility? Was he teaching me not to be satisfied with a small achievement but to aspire to greater things? I expected a pat on the back and felt that my efforts had been dismissed by this great man.
In retrospect, it occurred to me as I was setting down these memories decades later that one of the three souls who had converted to Islam was an intense and brilliant 18 year old former theological student who subsequently learned Arabic, traveled the world in search of knowledge, sitting with many of the great men of the Way and emerged as one of the most influential Muslim thinkers and orators in the West, reaching millions and guiding thousands on the path of Islam. He is known today as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. In balance I would say he counts for three hundred, at the very least. Perhaps Shaykh Al-Azhar understood this with the eye of insight.