[In response to Aftab's article "Schwartz's Words of Mass Destruction" - see below]
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Salutations of Allah be upon our His Messenger and our beloved Prophet Muhammad, salallahu alaihi wasallam.
Dear Bro Aftab,
Blessings of Allah be upon you and your family. Thank you for the article you wrote denouncing Schwartz's "words of mass destruction".
I completely respect Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and his outstanding scholarship in Islam. No two ways about it. He is a great scholar and has done remarkable work for Islam. His institute, the Zaytuna Institute, continues to do good work for Islam and Muslims in the West. I had recently posted Shaykh Hamza's interesting video on the Shawwal moon-sighting on my blog sufijourneys.blogspot.com
Shaykh Hamza may have uttered words in the past that continues to be used against him till today by Stephen Schwartz and the likes of him. As you mentioned in your article, "only people of violence read violence into Malcolm's words". Certainly, such behaviour is not peculiar to Shaykh Hamza. Even our beloved Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani has been misunderstood and continues to be attacked not only by the Wahhabis, but also by people who claim to be Sufis.
Also, I feel that there is no need to perpetuate any link between Stephen Schwartz and the Naqshbandi organisation or tariqa because in so doing we are implying that Schwartz's actions are sanctioned by the Naqshbandi leadership (i.e. Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani or Shaykh Hisham Kabbani). As much as Stephen Schwartz may claim to be a mureed of the Naqshbandi-Haqqani tariqa, you know as much as I do that mureeds are not always a reflection of the Shaykh. Many mureeds of great teachers and Shaykhs like Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani, Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, Shaykh Nuh Keller and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf have been guilty of misrepresenting their teacher. If we perpetuate the notion that really "all mureeds are a reflection of the teacher", then what kind of image do you think we are portraying about our beloved Prophet, salallahu alaihi wasallam.
I am not sure when these ill feelings will end, but I suspect that without a dialogue between Schwartz and our beloved Shaykh Hamza, we will not see the end of Schwartz's unabashed critique. It is clear that Schwartz's continued reprehension of Shaykh Hamza smells of a deep vendetta that has no basis in Islam and Sufism. Schwartz's actions lack the basic adab of a Muslim and runs foul of the Sufi lessons that he claim to have learnt like husn al-dhan (giving the benefit of doubt), mahabba (kind feelings & love towards another) and ihsan (perfect goodness). I can dare say that his acts do not receive any authority from the Naqshbandi-Haqqani leadership.
It is good that as a student of Shaykh Hamza you have taken the steps of clearing the air on the matters you have raised in the article. Perhaps it is time for you to coordinate a dialogue (keep it private please!) between Shaykh Hamza and Schwartz. While you are at it (hopefully soon), I would really love to see Shaykh Hamza and Shaykh Hisham, two great luminaries of Islam, to come together for the common good of Islam and Muslims, with the Grace and Mercy of Allah. If you can coordinate a meeting between them first, and then perhaps organise some joint programmes, it would be great. Can you imagine the force both of them can put together? Allah knows best, but with both of these luminaries working in tandem, we can perhaps see Islam regaining its integrity and dignity, Insha'Allah. They can bring much clarity in this world of confusion. People, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, will be able to see Islam in the true Light.
May Allah subhanahu ta'ala Bless and Guide us all in our efforts in seeking His Pleasure and may He Guide and Protect our teachers, Ameen.