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Hamza Yusuf

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Liliana Hanson

Full Name
Mark Hanson


Hamza Yusuf

Modern history


Islamic scholar

Hamza Yusuf Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Imams Online

January 1, 1960 (age 64) (

Islamic scholar, author

Purification of the heart, Caesarean Moon Births: Calculations, Moon Sighting, and the Prophetic Way

Similar People
Zaid Shakir, Suhaib Webb, Nouman Ali Khan, Abu Ammaar Yasir Qad, Yusuf Estes


Organizations founded

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Hamza Yusuf (born January 1, 1958) is an American Islamic scholar, and is co-founder of Zaytuna College. He is a proponent of classical learning in Islam and has promoted Islamic sciences and classical teaching methodologies throughout the world.


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He is an advisor to the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He also serves as a member of the board of advisors of George Russell's One Nation, a national philanthropic initiative that promotes pluralism and inclusion in America. In addition, he serves as vice-president for the Global Center for Guidance and Renewal, which was founded and is currently presided over by Abdallah bin Bayyah. He is also serves as the vice-president of the UAE-based Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, where Abdullah bin Bayyah also serves as president.

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He is one of the signatories of A Common Word Between Us and You, an open letter by Islamic scholars to Christian leaders, calling for peace and understanding. The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom reported that "Hamza Yusuf is arguably the west's most influential Islamic scholar." Similarly, The New Yorker magazine reported that Yusuf is "perhaps the most influential Islamic scholar in the Western world."

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Early life

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Yusuf was born as Mark Hanson in Walla Walla, Washington to two academics working at Whitman College and he was raised in northern California. He grew up a practicing Greek Orthodox Christian and attended prep schools on both the east and west coasts. In 1977, after a near-death experience and reading the Qur'an, he converted from Christianity to Islam (he seemed destined for the Greek Orthodox priesthood at his early age). Yusuf has Irish, Scottish and Greek ancestry.


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After being impressed by a young couple from Saudi Arabia who were followers of Abdalqadir as-Sufi—a Scottish convert to Islam and leader of the Darqawa Sufi order and the Murabitun World Movement—Yusuf moved to Norwich, England to study directly under as-Sufi. In 1979, Yusuf moved to Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates where he spent the next four years studying Sharia sciences at the Islamic Institute, more often on a one-on-one basis with Islamic scholars. Yusuf became fluent in the Arabic language and also studied Qur'anic recitation (tajwid), rhetoric, poetry, law (fiqh) and theology (aqidah) among other classical Islamic disciplines.

In 1984, Yusuf formally disassociated himself from as-Sufi's teachings and moved in a different intellectual direction having been influenced by a number of Mauritanian scholars residing in the Emirates. He moved to North Africa in 1984 studying in Algeria and Morocco, as well as Spain and Mauritania. In Mauritania he developed his most lasting and powerful relationship with Islamic scholar Sidi Muhammad Ould Fahfu al-Massumi, known as Murabit al-Hajj.


He and other colleagues founded the Zaytuna Institute in Berkeley, California, United States, in 1996, dedicated to the revival of traditional study methods and the sciences of Islam. In the early 2000s he was joined by additional colleagues Zaid Shakir and Hatem Bazian in further establishing what was then Zaytuna Institute. Eventually, in the fall of 2010 it would open its doors as Zaytuna College, a four-year Muslim liberal arts college, the first of its kind in the United States. It incorporates Yusuf's vision of combining the classical liberal arts—based in the trivium and quadrivium—with rigorous training in traditional Islamic disciplines. It aims to "educate and prepare morally committed professional, intellectual, and spiritual leaders." The Zaytuna Institute became the first accredited Muslim campus in the United States after it received approval from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Yusuf stated that "We hope, God willing, that there will be more such Muslim colleges and universities to come".


Yusuf has taken a stance against religious justifications for terrorist attacks. He described the 9/11 attacks as "an act of mass murder, pure and simple." Condemning the attacks, he has also stated "Islam was hijacked... on that plane as an innocent victim."


Jordan's Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre currently places him 36th on its list of the top 500 most influential Muslims in the world. The magazine Egypt Today described him as a kind of theological rock star, "the Elvis Presley of western Muslims." In its 2016 edition Yusuf is described "as one of the foremost authorities on Islam outside of the Muslim world" by The 500 Most Influential Muslims, edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin.

In the April 2016 issue of Dabiq Magazine, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant declared him a murtadd (or apostate).

Anti-Qatar Stance

The UAE-based Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, where Yusuf serves as vice-president, issued a strong statement condemning Qatar during the 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis. This has led to criticism that Yusuf and other scholars are, in essence, puppets of the UAE.


Books and pamphlets authored

  • Beyond schooling: building communities where learning really matters (2001, 2003). Also includes essays by John Taylor Gatto, Dorothy L Sayers and Nabila Hanson. Re-edited in 2010 as Educating Your Child in Modern Times: How to Raise an Intelligent, Sovereign & Ethical Human Being.
  • Agenda to Change our Condition (2007, 2013). Co-authored with Zaid Shakir.
  • Caesarean Moon Births: Calculations, Moon Sighting, and the Prophetic Way (2008).
  • Translations

  • Imām Busiri, The Burda: Poem of the Cloak (2003). Includes a CD of performances by The Fez Singers feat. Bennis Abdelfettah.
  • Imām Mawlūd, Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart (2004, 2012). Translation and commentary of the poem Maṭharat al-Qulūb composed by a 19th century Mauritanian scholar.
  • Shaykh Al-Amin Mazrui, The Content of Character (2004). Foreword by Ali Mazrui, son of the author.
  • Imām Ṭaḥāwī, The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi (2007).
  • Imām Muhammad bin Nasir al-Dar'i, The Prayer of the Oppressed (2010). Includes a CD of performances by The Fez Singers.
  • Books with a foreword or introduction

  • Imām al-Zarnūjī, Instruction of the Student: The Method of Learning (2001). Translated by G.E. Von Grunebaum.
  • Dr. Mostafa Al-Badawî, The Prophetic Invocations (2003). Includes a CD of performances.
  • Reza Shah-Kazemi, Common Ground Between Islam and Buddhism: Spiritual and Ethical Affinities (2010).
  • Asad Tarsin, Being Muslim: A Practical Guide (2015).
  • Books edited

  • Joseph Lumbard, Submission, faith and beauty: the religion of Islam (2009). Co-edited with Zaid Shakir.
  • Papers

  • Caesarean Moon Births Part 1
  • Caesarean Moon Births Part 2
  • Climbing Mount Purgatorio
  • References

    Hamza Yusuf Wikipedia

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