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Yusuf Hamza's Arabic

Reader comment on item: Shoeless George Bush
in response to reader comment: Our dear Yusuf Hamza and the Arabic language

Submitted by Abdullah (United Arab Emirates), Mar 3, 2009 at 02:58

I am an Arab, who lives in the Arab world, and always have. I speak, read and write fluent Arabic. I think and dream in Arabic. I read the Holy Quran in Arabic, I say my Du'aa in Arabic, listen to Arabic music, and watch Arabic movies. If my English seems better than the average Arab's, that is because I studied in an American High school, and graduated with a score of 5 in A.P English, and later went on to study journalism as an elective in university.

Now that I have told you about myself, I will tell you about Sheikh Yusuf Hamza's Arabic, and his pronunciations in the Arabic tongue. First, I would like to let you know how I met Sheikh Yusuf Hamza for the first time, as it is important to know the occasion and context in which I first heard him speak. When my uncle died last year, Yusuf Hamza was invited by my father to the Aaza (Islamic funeral) to say a few words on the issue of death.

Among the attendees were my uncles, cousins, brothers and nephews. We numbered at around 50-60. Yusuf Hamza's entire speech was in Arabic. At the end of it, we all thanked him for reminding us of how death is not the end, but only the start of a transitional journey to the eternal life, as Islam defines it. Not for a single moment, did I think Yusuf Hamza was either of western origin, nor did I think that he was not a native Arabic Speaker. His pronunciation of everything Arabic was as perfect as a mortal can be. His command of the language was much better than that of my uncles. My uncles are not laymen by any definition. They are political consultants, aids to the rulers, lawyers and educators, all deeply rooted in their Arabic culture.

In fact, it was not until just a couple of weeks ago that I found out Sheikh Yusuf Hamza was not an Arab. I had previously thought him to be Moroccan because of his physical appearance, and because the Moroccans are known to pronounce words as they are written in Arabic, what we call "Proper Arabic" or Fus'ha. His Arabic is better than that of native Arabs. Notice I said Native Arabs, and not Native Speakers, because his Arabic is above the level of Native speakers. The reason for this is because he has spent his years studying the Quran. The Quran, which till this day is stated by all Arabs, including Christian Arabs, to be the very best of Arabic literature in existence. Anyone who uses this great book as his means of learning the Arabic dialect will certainly surpass the average Arab, who does not learn it entirely, but merely knows a few verses or surahs. I never heard Sheikh Yusuf Hamza "mumble", as you say. Perhaps you could substantiate your claims?

There are a few videos of him on youtube and other internet hosting websites with him speaking pretty eloquently. Furthermore, the fact that he is from the west makes it shameful that he defends Arabic Culture? There is suddenly something wrong with people from one culture, defending other cultures? That goes against the past 50 years of American foreign policy and American Culture. Why has the US gone into all the wars it has for the past 50 years, if it was not to defend others culture and universal human rights? It wasn't for profiting at the expense of others was it? "He aint no Arab", true. But he is a Muslim, and for us Arabs, that is more than enough for us to embrace him with open arms, and call him brother.

You know what his defending of Arabic culture has earned him? An Afterlife Insha'Allah, free of torment. It has also earned him the respect of millions, and many of them, like me, would gladly welcome him into our homes, and listen to anything he had to say. But rather than recognize one of your own countryman as one who can serve as a mediator in these times of great suffering, you want to outcast him as black sheep because he is different from the average American. Everything you say on this site about him, is testimony that the freedoms the United States held dear for so long, are all being buried. Yusuf Hamza is a great human being, what does it matter what tongue the words PEACE and TOLERANCE are spoken in, as long as they are spoken and taught?

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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