On His Youtube channel, Dr.Jordan Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist, made a podcast with Hamza Yusuf, an American neo-traditionalist Islamic scholar, and co-founder of Zaytuna College.
in this podcast, they discussed many interesting topics about Islam, such as gratitude, repentance, a core belief in Islam and its relation to the collective culture, and other religions such as Christianity and jewidism.
This article spots light on some of the instrumental points discussed in Islam.
Well, from Peterson’s point of view, Religion is something important because it’s like the glue that unites people and holds people together.. without it, people would find difficulty co-existing.
The problem emerges when people have grown up in a conflicted environment where they’re exposed to different types of religions as Dr. Hamza was brought up…because they have to look at things from various perspectives.
The issue of injustice in the world was one of the subjects presented in this debate.. escpailly when we speak about the western culture and its arbitrary privilege over other cultures, which raises questions about inequity and a sense of guilt that such civilization was built on tyranny, atrocities, and plundering.. (though most cultures face similar accusations)
However, from Dr. Hamza’s view, Islam recognizes inequity as a piece of fact
In Quran, there is a verse that makes it a crystal clear in surah Al Ana’am:
He elevated some of you in rank over others, so He may test you with what He has given you (165)
from that perspective, we can see tribulations and blessings as a test… people privileged with blessings should be grateful for their god… And those whose lives are riven by adversities should have patience… Hence, we can say both cases are a test of Allah.
Well, gratitude is an embedded concept in the Islamic religion.
First and foremost, Muslims feel grateful for the gift of life. It’s such an extraordinary gift to which they’re indebted.
And even for Muslims who reached the highest ranks in such religion, tribulations are seen as gifts because from the darkness of suffering comes out the light of wisdom
From another perspective, suffering is a merely concept created by humans because children don’t question suffering nor understand it.
Dr. Hamza recounted the story of Jacques Lusseyran, a French writer, who wrote “There was light book”. This man has lost his sight in his childhood and he saw two gifts in this accident… First, being blind at an early age is a blessing as he won’t face difficulty readapting to the world..
Second, the child is objective. He doesn’t see events as unjust. He learns that from the people surrounding them.. And that explains why parents are devastated in this case, while their children are in a normal state.
Islam has a view about repentance similar to the religions preceding it.
Dr. hamza explains: It’s like turning or reorienting the heart enveloped with sins in the direction of obedience instead of disobedience.
And the idea of repenting and turning back to Allah is so important that the prophet Mohammed, sws, has urged us to ask forgiveness 70 times a day.
Prayer and ablution, are Islamic practices that aim at purifying the heart of sins,. It’s like bathing in the river as both of them are for removing disgusts and contaminations inward and outward ..
For repentance to be accepted, first, it should be sincere which means it’s done without ulterior motives. Also, it should include a firm intention not to return to that sin..And if you did wrong to someone, you should ask him for forgiveness, like if you stole, you had to give the money back.
In Quran, Allah says in the first verse Surah Al Mulk:
Who created death and life that He might try you as to which of you is better in deed.
According to Dr. Hamza, the scent of death can be smelled on all the pages of the Quran
Death is a sudden transition. There is no one on the earth that could predict or speculate about the time when he fall dead. And for this fact, Muslims should ready themselves well to confront this moment.
One of the gifts of the Islamic religion is it removes this fear of death.. not from the physiological dimension because it’s a very tense experience, especially for people who’ve witnessed their loved ones’ death. But because Islam confirms that death is just a transition or a doorway to another life. It’s not the end!
On the other hand, there is nothing In Islam called a death cult. Prophet Mohammed said that don’t desire death and ask God for a long life full of good deeds.
Also, preparing for death means being in a repentance state. And Muslim rituals could be seen as preparation for it. For example, when we wake up, we say praise to Allah who brings us to life because sleep in the Quran is described as a little death..
Thus every morning we have a resurrection that reminds us of the day of the judgment.
And The communal prayer on Friday also symbolizes the gathering of the day of judgment.
True Muslims follow the commands of Allah and don’t transgress their limits ( hadood in Arabic).
Those limits, in fact, were set by Allah to protect 6 things for Muslims: religion, life, reasoning, property, family, human dignity
For example, the prohibition of alcohol is for protecting the human’s mental health or reasoning, and the prohibition of gossiping or stealing is for protecting human dignity and property.
That question has perplexed me personally and I found the answer in Dr. Hamza’s answer.
From his perspective, Islam is antagonistic to collective philosophies and comes to liberate humans from the collective norms and that’s why Quran is imbued with verses that urges human to use their reasoning and don’t follow the traditions, especially of their ancestors.
Every story in Quan is about a prophet standing against a group that threatens to kill, stone, or fight him.
And Hudhaifah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “Do not be a man without a will of your own, saying: ‘If people treat us well, we will treat them well; and if they do wrong, we will do wrong”
However, Islam also emphasizes the concept of sociability and the importance of society and not living a monastic life, because people are social creatures, as Aristotle once said: it’s either a beast or god that can live alone.
It’s easy to turn religion into an ideology and strip it out of its essence which makes the services of worshipping Allah much more important than the religion itself.
However, look at the western culture currently. It lives in the most irreligious era, however, still, ideologies dominate… and when talking about ideology we mean progressive modernity.. because it’s hard to see the seeds of totalitarianism in an ideology that calls for the liberty of humans..
Post-modernity ideologies have expelled god out of the civilization and focused on self-gratification without knowing how to deal with self… And the gift of the Islamic religion is it guides us to know ourselves, the mechanism of the self, and how we think, and behave. In fact, I say Quran is a physiological book more than anything else.
Also, such self-centrality doesn’t bring inner happiness or peace… Because as imam al ghazali said the self has three levels: the pig (concupiscent self), the dog (the arousable self), and the sage (the wise soul), and the sage should reign because otherwise, the pig will wreak havoc.
To the question of why you chose Islam in preference to other religions, Dr. Hamza answered
2. Islam paved the way for a philosophical western Christendom.. You can say for example, in the books of Thomas Aquinas, the Italian friar, and priest who lived in the 13th century, that he quoted Muslim sayings many times in his books.
3. Isalm is a very simple theological religion that anyone could understand. God is Islam is unique, one, independent, don’t give birth nor was born and there is nothing like him
4. Isalamic civilization was very fascinating in a wide spectrum, including music, architecture, and poets, and it has had a deep influence on the other civilizations till now.
5. Islam is a universal religion that extends from California to Indonesia and has many expressions in each country despite sharing the same belief.
6. Islam bridges the west and east.. for example, the capital of Istanbul, that was the Islamic capital, is an entry between both hemispheres.. and Islam has reached Spain and eastern Europe for centuries.
Hamza was born in California to a Christian orthodox family… His grandfather was orthodox but his mother described herself as a Buddhist and his uncle was interested in Buddhism, which was like a fad in 1920.
He was lucky to be exposed to different religions, for his mom went him to the synagogues, Buddhist sites, and different Christian iterations, and even she accompanied him to the mosque.
He had a near-death experience in a car accident when he was 17 years old, a student in high school. And this experience made him reflect on death in a more profound way.. and drives him to read about what religions say about the life after life?
And what resonated and stuck with him was the perspective of Islam about the afterlife, and that serendipitous event was the turning point that led to his conversion to Islam after a year of this accident.
Finally, it was an interesting podcast…
We wish everyone to watch it again, regardless of what his faith is.
Because it’s not just about Islam but also about how religion can rule in an irreligious era.
In this article, we tried to give you a glimpse of most of the intriguing points in this podcast… We hope you find it simple… Please share your opinions and thoughts about this article in a comment.