No announcement yet.

Humza Yusuf - Rock Star for New Muslim Generation?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Humza Yusuf - Rock Star for New Muslim Generation?

    article, might be of interest to some, on Hamza Yusuf.


    'Rock Star' of New Muslim Generation
    Also Happens to Be White Suburbanite

    Staff Reporter

    HAYWARD, Calif. -- When Mark Hanson was a 1970s teenager growing up in Marin
    County as the privileged son of a college professor and a liberal activist
    mother, he barely escaped serious injury in an auto accident. Baptized Greek
    Orthodox and attending Catholic high school, he began to explore Buddhism,
    metaphysics and other philosophies. He read excerpts from the Quran, and he
    decided at 18 to become a Muslim, taking the name Hamza Yusuf.

    "A lot of people get into something at that stage of life, and it's a
    phase," he says.

    It wasn't a phase. Twenty-five years later, the 43-year-old Mr. Yusuf -- as
    he is now known, though his legal name remains Mark Hanson -- is one of the
    most popular and influential leaders of American Muslims, helping a younger
    generation of followers bridge the gap between traditional Islam and
    American culture.

    His speech at a Muslim conference in Chicago last fall attracted more than
    10,000 people. Similar crowds have flocked to hear him at New York's Madison
    Square Garden in the past decade. Videotapes of his talks sell briskly over
    the Internet. Nine days after Sept. 11, he was invited to meet with
    President Bush. Standing outside the White House, Mr. Yusuf declared, "Islam
    was hijacked on that ... plane as an innocent victim" -- a statement that
    President Bush used in his speech to Congress that evening but that also
    prompted death threats from radical Muslims.

    'A Rock Star'

    "He's kind of like a rock star for the religious set," says Syed Ali, who
    teaches sociology at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

    In the wake of Sept. 11, many of America's three million Muslims are
    struggling with what it means to be both Muslim and American. It's a dilemma
    Mr. Yusuf embodies: a white man in a religion still dominated by nonwhite
    immigrants; an American in a religion often deemed anti-American; a
    self-described moderate in a religion often seen as extremist.

    The same day he visited the White House, Federal Bureau of Investigation
    agents knocked on the door of his home in California to quiz him about a
    speech he made Sept. 9 in which he said: "This country is facing a very
    terrible fate. ... This country stands condemned. It stands condemned like
    Europe stood condemned because of what it did -- and lest people forget that
    Europe suffered two world wars after conquering the Muslim lands."

    Mr. Yusuf says he regrets those remarks and some other strident speeches he
    made over the years. "Anger is a dangerous emotion and not a part of the
    Islamic tradition," he says. "There are Muslims in the community whose anger
    has led them to do some pretty horrendous things. That's a problem, a
    horrendous problem. I don't want to contribute to that."

    Like Catholic and Jewish immigrants before them, America's Muslims are
    confronting the challenge of assimilation versus tradition. Muslims are one
    of the country's most successful ethnic or religious groups. Nearly
    three-fifths are college graduates. Half make more than $50,000 a year and
    are in managerial, medical, professional, technical or teaching jobs. And as
    they have become successful, American Muslims have drifted away from the
    faith. Just 20% of American Muslims attend mosque regularly, according to
    Hamid Dabashi, chairman of the department of Middle Eastern languages and
    culture at Columbia University in New York.

    I've met the guy in person. Something about his mannerism, and his attitude is a big turn off. I just don't sense the humility that I seek and expect in religious leaders. If a man doesn't exemplify the qualities he asks of his followers, his words mean nothing to me.