“I read your books to my children.” – Sheikh Hamza Yusuf

By Saniyasnain Khan
 
In March 2015, I visited Abu Dhabi along with my father Maulana Wahiduddin Khan and other members of CPS International to attend a peace conference organized by the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.
 
Here for the first time I met Sheikh Hamza Yusuf. When I introduced myself to him and presented him a copy of one of my books, Goodnight Stories from the Quran, he smilingly said, “I read your books to my children!”
 
Sheikh Hamza has great fondness for India and deep respect for great Indian scholars of the past. He fondly remembered Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and his contribution to India. He said that hardly anyone knows that he was the first Education Minister of Independent India and that his birthday is celebrated as National Education Day in India. He also lauded Maulana Abul Kalam’s contribution along with Mahatma Gandhi to India’s non-violent freedom struggle. 
 
He reminded me of a book published by Goodword with the title of The Sayings of Muhammad by Abdullah al-Suhrawardy. He said that he loved this book, particularly its introduction, which was written by Mahatma Gandhi.
 
During his youth, Sheikh Hamza came across one of Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s books, which he said had a great impact on him.
 
On the last day of the conference as we were about to leave for the airport, Sheikh Hamza came down in the lobby of the hotel to greet us. Along with Sheikh Hamza were Dr. Mohamed El-Sanousi, Director of Community Outreach for ISNA, and Mr. Zeshan Zafar, Director of Communications for the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies. Together in the lounge, we had an engaging discussion on various topics relating to Islam and the current scenario. 
 
At the conference, for the first time, I got the opportunity to directly hear Sheikh Hamza Yusuf. His talks were full of wisdom and clarity and he possesses the unique ability to address the minds of the youth. One of the speeches he gave was in Arabic. I was surprised to hear him speak in excellent Arabic!
 
I happened to meet Sheikh Hamza Yusuf again at the convention of Reviving the Islamic Spirit in Toronto in December 2015. Mr. Fouzan Khan, founder and president of RIS, had invited the Maulana to address the Muslim youth from all over the world at the three-day convention. It was a very inspiring experience for all of us present there. The people visiting the Convention were young Muslims, eager to learn about Islam and spirituality. The Maulana, after addressing the gathering several times and taking questions from them, remarked that he was not asked even a single negative question from the audience, something unprecedented for him.
 
Here, at the RIS Convention I got the opportunity to hear Sheikh Hamza on peace and Islamic spirituality. His deep knowledge of classical Islamic literature coupled with his understanding of modern thought and forceful oratorical style made a great impact on the audience.