Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Sheikh Hamza Yusuf on Poetry.

I admire him immensely. It strikes me that this man, in this day & age is very much respected among us Muslims, just try to imagine how much more admired, how much more loved our prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. was by the Muslims in his day & age.

I'd write a summary of what he says but there's just so much. His talk gets better & better towards the end. Perhaps towards the end, especially.

The video starts with Sheikh Hamza Yusuf mentioning that his dad studied at UC with Mark Van Doren (Man whom Kerouac first sent his first published novel The Town and the City to, whom Ginsberg sent his The Denver Doldrums and Dakar Doldrums to) and his father actually named him after Van Doren. He speaks of Van Doren's genuine regard for others as his intellectual par. I just find this striking because I've been reading Kerouac & Ginsberg's letters this morning & watched this. Serendipitous. I've always taken serendipity as one of God's many ways of making Himself known, alhamdulillah.

This is what Kerouac said about Van Doren in his letter to Ginsberg, April 1948:
"The thing I like about Van Doren is this: he was the only professor I personally knew at Columbia who had the semblance of humility without pretensions   the semblance, but to me, deeply, the reality of humility too. A kind of sufferingly earnest humility like you imagine old Dickens or old Dostoevsky having later in their lives. Also he's a poet, a "dreamer" and a moral man. The moral man part is my favourite part. This is the kind of man whose approach to life has the element in it of a moral proposition. Either the proposition was made to him or he made it himself, to life. See? My kind of favourite man." 
(from the book Jack Kerouc Allen Ginsberg: The Letters, Edited by Bill Morgan and David Stanford)

In his talk about poetry, Sh. Hamza mentions Dostoevsky, the buffoonery of the father in Brothers Karamazov etc. He mentions Shakespeare, Hamlet -how Hamlet is a play about spiritual evolution, of Hamlet's soliloquy being about his fear of death. The poets in the day of prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h, Hassan ibn Thabit etc. He also mentions Rumi several times (naturally). Quoting both Shakespeare & Rumi. The genius of the talk lies in how Sh. Hamza laces everything with hadiths

"The prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. said: The truest thing that a poet ever said was what Naveed said:  Isn't it everything other than God is falsehood. And that's in Sahih Bukhari. And that's all Rumi ever said. You can read all those lines. Words words words, that's all his message is, just a commentary on what was said by our prophet Muhammad." -Sheikh Hamza Yusuf

Okay, maybe I just wrote a summary of sorts after all.

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