Imam Zaid Shakir lays the smack down
One of the many scholars I respect today is Zaytuna Institute’s Imam Zaid Shakir. Similar in knowledge and intellectualism as his colleague and co-founder of Zaytuna Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, what separates the two the most is Imam Zaid’s willingness to answer directly to his critics.
After Michael Jackson passed away both scholars wrote a short essay reflecting on his death. Someone apparently didn’t see the point in doing so and decided to write to Imam Zaid telling him all about it.
Check out the following link to see what he had to say in response: http://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/articles/the_life_of_a_muslim_rock_star/, (It’s just a shame that he is supposed to be speaking in London today and I’m not going 😦 insha’Allah maybe next time). Many scholars today refuse to answer to their critics for a number of reasons, to avoid fitna in their respective communities, to respect differences of opinions, and sometimes it’s because they realise that many Muslims out there unfortunately only debate for the sake of debating and not for any good cause.
But what makes Imam Zaid different is that his writing style is so powerful, I doubt many people would be able to make a rebuttal against him. Which is something I would like to see from scholars a little bit more. It’s the gentle, kind and wise looking scholars who have the best kind of angry little fire they have inside of them, which they control most of the time, but let it peep out every now and again so they can get their point across. I noticed this with Sheikh Hamza when I came across this series of lectures he did over a decade ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=aZm01kQgwI4. He has since then changed many of his opinions mentioned in this talk, back then he wasn’t always this friendly, pro-democracy scholar from California, he used to have a lot of conservative viewpoints which he brought across in an excellent manner. Something that other ‘firebrand’ scholars just fail to do on a daily basis, simply because all they ever talk about are controversial viewpoints brought across in an uneducated manner.
I would like to see scholars answer their critics directly a little more. Get a little fiery every now and again just when it is needed. I think this is the reason why heretical schools of Islamic creed have become so widespread in the west, it’s because great scholars are not willing to stand up and answer the fitna directly. Don’t get me wrong, there have been and are those who do this on a regular basis. But I just want to see big scholars like Imam Zaid getting fired up a little more now and again. (Well maybe not Imam Zaid, he has written his fair share of destructive pieces against those who would question his character. Check out the following he wrote against a Salafi brother: http://www.hahmed.com/blog/2007/11/26/imam-zaid-shakir-answer-to-a-%E2%80%9Csalafi%E2%80%9D-brother/ albeit it’s not a very angry piece, but again this guy has nothing to come back with.)