Islamic scholar calls for revival of ancestors’ values
Haneen Dajani

Last Updated: May 05. 2010 1:06AM UAE / May 4. 2010 9:06PM GMT ABU DHABI //

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, a leading American Islamic scholar, yesterday urged a group of young Arab women and their teachers to revive their ancestors’ values, saying this was the key to spreading the message of Islam.

“Wherever [the Arabs] went, they took their morality with them. They were loved for that and that’s what helped spread Islam,” Sheikh Hamza told students and professors at the women’s campus of Zayed University.

“Arabs already had the ethics and the Prophet taught them to maintain it and polished it for them.”

Sheikh Hamza told the students to respect their teachers. “The Prophet said, ‘I was just sent as a teacher’,” he told them.

He said people in east Asia had long been impressed by the way Arabs conduct themselves.

“It was the Akhlaq [ethics] of Arabs that spread Islam and not the sword.”

After the talk, Shaima Saleh, 19, an Emirati foundation-year student, said she was “ashamed” that she knew so little about Arab history.

“When he asked us if we knew about the Arab tribes he was mentioning, most of us have not heard of them,” she said. “I vow to read more because I never read. I barely read the headlines of the newspapers.”

She added: “I also related to the part about respecting teachers. When we’re in class the girls barely listen to the teacher, they are all texting messages or chatting. They just show up for attendance.”

Nada al Hammadi, a 22-year-old Emirati graduate, said: “I was touched by his advice when he said girls should focus on decency and modesty, and I felt it was related to his comment later that it is our duty to deliver the real Islam to the 75 per cent non-Muslims on Earth.”

Hasna al Masri, an adjunct assistant professor at the university, said the lecture was relevant to local culture.

“Especially when Sheikh Hamza gave the example of a man he knows from the Gulf, who is now 100 years old, who had to go to India to find a job before oil was discovered,” she said.

“I felt he was stressing the concept of respect for all people and being humble by showing that there were times when people in this area had to go to India to find jobs, so now that it is the other way round we should not disrespect those who come here looking for jobs.”