For Islamic scholar Hamza Yusuf, knowledge is key to a meaningful life

During a conversation before a full audience in Battell Chapel on April 6, Yale professor and Christian theologian Miroslav Volf asked Islamic scholar Hamza Yusuf what Christians and other non-Muslims would do well to learn from Islamic tradition.

Yusuf answered that one of the most significant concepts they might learn is the Muslim idea of “brotherhood” — the belief that all people are from the same human family.

“One thing that is deeply troubling for me is that there is so much [racial] tension,” Yusuf said, adding that racial tensions in the United States have become so fierce that, when hearing that a police officer shot an African-American person, some people automatically assume the action was justified while others assume it was not. He described this reaction as one that is based on “nouns and adjectives”: police officer, African-American, white, and black.

“Real morality,” Yusuf told his audience, “has to be rooted in verbs and adverbs — to get out of looking at people as ‘other’ than you.” He added that in the United States, some people speak of Arabs in a way that would be “completely unacceptable” if they were talking about any other group of people.