Sunday, September 20, 2015

Shaykh Hamza's Introduction to the Prayer of the Oppressed (al-Du’a al-Nasiri)

I think the introduction to The Prayer of the Oppressed (al-Du’a al-Nasiri) is the most profound piece of writing I have seen from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, ma sha Allah.
From the back cover:
The power of this prayer of Imam Muhammad al-Dar’i lies in its simplicity, its purity, and its sincere supplication. It is essentially a plea to God that our transgressions be overlooked, that divine mercy be bestowed upon us, that social justice be restored in spite of us, that wrongs be righted, and that righteousness reign once again in our lands, so that the destitute may no longer be in need, the young may be educated, the animals’ purpose fulfilled, rain restored, and bounties poured forth. It is a plea to be freed from the aggression of foreigners in lands over which they have no right – a plea much needed in our modern world, rampant as it is with invasions and territorial occupations. Ultimately, it asks not that our enemies be destroyed, but simply that their plots, and the harm they cause, be halted. Its essence is mercy, which in turn is the essence of the Messenger of God, Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him: “And We have only sent you as a mercy to all the worlds.”
“Shaykh Hamza Yusuf has rendered a tremendous service to Islam with this translation of a powerful, deeply spiritual supplication, and passed it along to a community of Muslims far removed from its Moroccan roots. He has also augmented it with a riveting Introduction that examines the nature of oppression and its impact on human societies, while challenging us to admit our powerlessness to God.”
— Imam Zaid Shakir
Author, Co-founder of Zaytuna College
“Hamza Yusuf is in himself and his work, a beautiful, and absolutely necessary, living bridge between the Islamic and American cultures. His eloquence, and his brilliant intelligence, are vital energies, nourishment, we can share.”
— Coleman Barks
Author, The Essential Rumi
“The prayer of Imam al-Dar’i is a reminder that in all religions and all cultures there are men and women of wisdom and courage who rise to stand with the oppressed against the oppressor. The greatest virtue we possess, as the poet knows, is compassion, not only for the victim but also for the victimizer. It is the contradictory tension of justice and mercy, of law and forgiveness, which makes us complete human beings.”
— Chris Hedges
Author, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning
“Stunning. Imam Muhammad b. Nasir al-Dari’s prayer-poem is beautiful, the accompanying CD is beautiful, but what is most remarkable is the introduction by Hamza Yusuf. It is as thoughtful and erudite, as clever and as powerful, as honest and moving as anything ever written by a Muslim in North America. This guy isn’t building bridges; he’s revealing the ones that are already there. This is wonderful stuff by a scholar who needs to sit down and seriously start thinking about writing a book.”
— Review of The Prayer of the Oppressed posted on Amazon.com