The Political Philosophy of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Shaykh Abdal


“The Political Philosophy of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad: Dissent, Race, and Gender”

By Walaa Quisay (University of Oxford )

Date: Thursday 22 March 2018
Time: 7 pm
Venue: 10 Maple Street, London, W1T 5HA
FREE ADMISSION but registiration required via eventbrite!

In the 1990’s, a network of western-born students had culminated their studies in the ‘traditional centres’ of knowledge in the Muslim world. They came back with the intent of transmitting the ‘traditional’ knowledge they attained to the wider Muslim community. From amongst them, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad were increasingly becoming notable religious authorities. To their community of followers and students, they represented a connection to an authentic religious tradition marginalised by modernist voices. Their religious discourse was both highly intellectual and deeply spiritual; at a time when there was a seeming decline in both intellect and spirituality. Unlike the various religious actors that espoused activist tendencies, politics was not at the forefront of their discourse. Still it was not absent. Embedded within the shuyukh’s social critique were guiding political principles. This paper discusses the shuyukh’s political philosophy through three broad themes: activism and dissent against the state in principle – in Muslim majority and minority contexts, race and identity politics, and gender roles and feminism. The paper will highlight how the critique of ‘modernity’ is interlinked and reaffirms notions of authority and stability in the political philosophy of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad.

Walaa Quisay is a 4th year DPhil student at the University of Oxford in the Faculty of Oriental Studies. She works on the sociology and anthropology of religion. Her thesis looks at the neo-traditionalist critique of modernity and political philosophy. Her case studies are Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, and Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah. She completed her Masters at the University of Exeter where submitted her thesis on ‘The epistemologies of progressive Muslims’. Her BA was at SOAS; there she conducted research on the relationship of Sufi Tariqas to the state in Egypt. She will be a Visiting Research Fellow at Sehir University in 2019.

Photo source: Shaykh Hamza Yusuf in Mauritania