It’s time for Muslim Americans to condemn Hamza Yusuf

It’s time for Muslim Americans to condemn Hamza Yusuf

Since the beginning of Donald Trump‘s presidency in January 2017, many American Muslim leaders have been busy fighting back against the repressive, Islamophobic policies designed and implemented by his administration.

A select few, however, have chosen to go against the best interest of their communities and help perpetuate human rights abuses against Muslims in the US and abroad. Influenced by a number of factors, including internalised Islamophobia, these individuals have intentionally sided with the Trump White House. Hamza Yusuf, once dubbed the most “influential Muslim scholar in the Western world” is one of them. 

Last week, Secretary of State and top Islamophobe Mike Pompeo announced the formation of the Commission on Unalienable Rights which will advise Trump on human rights and examine how “words like ‘rights’ can be used for good or evil”. It includes some of the most conservative people in the country and will be chaired by Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor and an advocate of the “flexible universalism” of human rights, who once campaigned against enshrining abortion as an international human right at the 1995 UN women’s conference in Beijing. Subsequently, it was announced that Yusuf will also be a member of the commission.  

Some Muslims welcomed his appointment, arguing that his presence there would undoubtedly have a positive effect and could help counter the Trump administration’s pervasive Islamophobia. This argument, however, ignores the fact that two years of intense work by the Muslim community to challenge acts of institutionalised Islamophobia, such as the Muslim ban, have not changed Trump’s mind. It also overlooks Yusuf’s own background.

In fact, if his past has taught us anything, it is that he is quite comfortable rubber-stamping the violent actions of oppressive governments – actions he is never going to be the target of as a cis, white male living in the US. 

In September 2001, shortly after the terror attacks on the US, he was the sole Muslim representative in a delegation of religious leaders who met President George W Bush and endorsed his decision to launch a military campaign against terrorism – ie, his “war on terror“.

When Trump was elected president in 2016, following a divisive, Islamophobic, misogynistic and racist election campaign, Yusuf discouraged people from protesting against an administration that was elected on a promise to erode the rights of the most vulnerable.

“We have too much work to do, not protesting, not lighting fires, not saying, ‘Trump is not my president,'” he wrote on his website in November 2016. “He is, and that is how our system works: by accepting the results and moving on.”  

Then, a month later, black Muslims came face to face with Yusuf’s misplaced loyalties, when he declared at a conference that the US is “one of the least racist countries” and tried to use the racist trope of “black-on-black crime” to convince Muslims not to join forces with the Black Lives Matter movement.

In December 2018, Yusuf again made headlines for calling the UAE, a country that has zero tolerance of political dissent and is currently involved in a devastating war in Yemen, “tolerant“. That he clearly ignores all the human rights abuses the UAE has been accused of is rather unsurprising given that he is a former student and good friend of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah and is serving as the vice president of his Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies – a religious body bankrolled by Abu Dhabi.

One can argue Yusuf is only practising what he has preached by joining the Commission on Unalienable Rights and attempting to work with the Trump administration. But can we really believe that his inclusion in a human rights panel, clearly designed to enable anti-black, anti-women, Islamophobic and xenophobic policy decisions of the Trump administration, can lead to positive change? Can we give Yusuf the benefit of the doubt given his history of perpetuating imperialist propaganda and defending rights repression? 

Some Muslims who continue to believe in Yusuf’s good intentions despite his appointment to the committee called on the community to give him a “naseeha”, or compassionate advice, including the well-known and respected imam Zaid Shakir

But when does naseeha end and accountability begin? Didn’t Yusuf get enough naseeha in the last two decades, as he was spending his time legitimising the “war on terror” and praising repressive regimes? For how long do we need to hold on to the idea that his intentions are good and he should be kindly advised rather than condemned?

Yusuf surely knows the human cost of the “war on terror“. He is clearly aware of the devastation and death the “tolerant” UAE has caused in Yemen. He undoubtedly understands the harm the Trump administration has already done and can still do if it is allowed to re-define the interpretation of human rights law in the US. 

If Yusuf wants to join the ranks of human rights abusers, at the end of the day, that is his prerogative. But he cannot do so as our representative. If we continue to remain silent, we will be complicit in the very violence that he is enabling. 

His recent appointment should be the last straw that broke the camel’s back for the Muslim community in the US; it’s high time we move past giving a “naseeha”.

We cannot afford to wait until Yusuf personally helps Trump develop a new Muslim ban. We must act now and collectively condemn him for legitimising the attempts of an Islamophobic administration to erode the fundamental rights of fellow Muslims. We must start organising boycotts of Muslim conferences and other events where he is invited to speak. We must put pressure on other religious leaders to distance themselves from him and make it clear to the wider society that he does not represent the Muslim community at large.  

The Quran instructs Muslims to “Be maintainers of justice and bearers of true witness for Allah, even if it (the truth) goes against your own selves or parents or relatives or someone who is rich or poor.” 

Thus, it is incumbent on Muslims to speak out against Yusuf. Holding him accountable could set a precedent in our community so all those who have enjoyed a form of immunity due to their elevated status no longer feel above reproach. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


  1. [url=]buy finasteride online[/url] [url=]glucophage metformin[/url] [url=]buy atarax online[/url] [url=]can you buy azithromycin over the counter in australia[/url] [url=]sildenafil citrate tablets 100 mg[/url] [url=]antabuse medication[/url] [url=]ventolin australia buy[/url]

  2. cbd oil for pain relief [url=]strongest cbd oil for sale[/url] walgreens cbd oil [url=]charlottes web cbd oil[/url]
    cbd dosage [url=]hemp oil store[/url]

  3. I simply want to say I’m very new to weblog and certainly enjoyed this blog. Probably I’m planning to bookmark your blog post . You amazingly have remarkable articles. Appreciate it for revealing your blog site.

  4. I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I’m quite sure I’ll learn lots of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  5. Mahjong Solitaire, the online version of Mahjong, gains wide popularity recently. The online version of the classic Chinese game is a matching game that uses the Mahjong tiles. Online Mahjong games can be found in many online gaming sites in variety of layouts and versions.

  6. I must find the potential for to thank anyone for impressive pointers There are at all times appreciated possibilities a web page. We’re anxious about any graduation to do with your college explore along with the uncut groundwork could not have already been conclude without the need of arriving in your web blog. Household . instead , may well be from a assistance other individuals, Keep away from companies enjoy it to further in what I had learned at this point.

  7. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content for yourself? I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write related to here. Again, awesome web log!

  8. Sapid Agency is a Search Engine Optimization company in New York City that provides SEO Services. Their proprietary SEO strategies help struggling websites and aspiring business owners to rank their websites higher in multiple search engines like Google , Yahoo and Bing. They provide local and gmb map ranking for businesses in NYC and many other local areas. Find more at @ 145 E 57TH NEW YORK, NY 10022, USA, +1 971 341 5608 USA

  9. Many thanks for sharing these kind of wonderful articles. In addition, the perfect travel and medical insurance system can often reduce those worries that come with traveling abroad. A new medical emergency can soon become costly and that’s absolute to quickly set a financial load on the family finances. Having in place the suitable travel insurance package prior to setting off is definitely worth the time and effort. Thanks

  10. Some really excellent content on this internet site, regards for contribution. “Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.” by Walt Whitman.

  11. Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a outstanding job!

  12. It certainly is almost unthinkable to encounter well-qualified individuals on this issue, in addition you come across as like you comprehend which you’re talking about! Many Thanks


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here