Book review: “The Prayer of the Oppressed” by Hamza Yusuf
One of the scholars whose new books are to me, like Christmas presents for a child, Sheikh Hamza’s latest title is a translation and discussion centred around the famous poem of Imam al-Dari’ of Morocco. Those who have a familiarity with Islam in Morocco will know of the popularity of this poem in the country. I first heard about it, and its miraculous nature on the Norwich Mosque website, where they had a special recitation of it during the start of the Gaza crisis a couple of years ago.
The main highlight of the book (Apart from the poem itself of course) is Sheikh Hamza’s discussion around oppression, both physical and spiritual, particularly in the Muslim world. As per his style he delves into the subject and unravels numerous layers of ideas and thoughts that many people would struggle to derive from any particular issue. A very important point he makes is with regards to the state of the current Ummah after the fall of Caliphate. As a religion now devoid of a political entity, it now has an opportunity to go back to its basics and reassert itself as a pure spiritual state once again. Get back to the Makkiverses before going onto the Madani ones if you will.
The book also contains a section on the idea of universal divine love which can be read online here:
A CD is included which contains a recording of the poem being sung by the Fez singers, who were the same troupe Sheikh Hamza had on his recording of the Burda of Imam al-Busiri, although to be honest I didn’t find the recitation as soothing as their rendering of the Burda. There is a recording on the Norwich Mosque’s website (Link above) which I prefer more. The book also contains a small addendum regarding the idea and proofs for the practice of tawassul, which although quite short I found extremely informative.
For more information on the poem you can check the links above, as well as Aisha Bewley’s website.