Is Hamza Yusuf a Sufi?

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Yusuf Estes was asked:
What do you say about Hamza Yusuf?
We say, 'May Allah Guide us all'

Yusuf Estes was questioned about statements attributed to him concerning Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, in October of 2001.


Sir, I read some things that people said came from you a few years ago, concerning about Hamza Yusuf. I quote what I have read.

Recently it has been said, 'Hamza Yusuf has misquoted meanings of the Quran, giving his own interpretations of certain verses. Also presenting meanings to hadeeth that are unfounded and in general showing Islam in the wrong light.

ANSWER dated 10/27/2010:

First of all, I ask Allah to forgive me for I was wrong in part of what I did, and I take responsibility for my mistakes in this matter. The way this information went wild on the web.

Also, these words are not my own. These words came to me from people who know him and was repeated by me, along with my comments from my own personal experience and observation over a decade ago.

My first mistake was putting this in an email. The email was a private message to someone who asked about teachings at the Zaytunna Instittue, by Hamza Yusuf and others. But the person who received the email from me published it on the internet without my permission. May Allah Forgive the brother and guide him and all of us, ameen.

The information was correct, but should not have been thrown out to the public in the manner it was done. I deeply regret the division and confusion caused by these words and would like it if this had not happened.

But that is all. Since then we have not communicated nor spoken and therefore, it could be he has changed his ideas and in fact, I have heard from some who have spoken with Hamza personally, that maybe Allah has granted more guidance for him than us.

However, regarding statements attributed to me regarding our brother in Islam, Hamza Yusuf, much of what has been said later, did not come from me - I do not agree with it.

As regards Hamza Yusuf and his followers and teachers, from my experience with them some years ago, they do follow sufism and the Malaki Fiqh.

Here is what brother Hamza says about Sufism:

Imam Hamza Yusuf

Tasawwuf (sufism) in Islam

A Talk Sponsored by CAIR - Stanford University, May 4, 1997

Imam Hamza Yusuf, sometime khatib at the Muslim Community Association of Santa Clara, California, spoke on Sufism in Islam. He began by noting that the architecture of Stanford is modeled after traditional Andalusian, Moroccan and North African universities. He said that Islamic architecture and civilization was once great as was its scholarship, but unfortunately the Muslim ummah has fallen behind in these spheres. Imam Hamza continued: "

".. and this is why in the tradition of Islam Sufism has always been part of the traditional Islamic curriculum in every single Muslim university. I know of no period in the Islamic tradition in which Sufism was not taught in the universities and not seen as an important and fundamental aspect of the tradition of Islam. ."

Another American from San Diego, California who is also a convert Islam and became a scholar, Shiekh Salem Morgan has this article on Sufism:

Truly, if any of you want to know what Hamza Yusuf is upon today, you should contact him and ask him.

He is one of the most eloquent speakers amongst Muslims in the United States and certainly he is most capable of expressing his views and his teachings.

On the other hand, all these different groups, like Shiites, Wahabis, Shabab and Sufism do exactly what you are complaining about - divide the Muslims into groups.

I pray every day for the Muslims, all of us, to wake up to the truth of our real deen and Allah guide us to all truth, ameen.

We all agree it is not correct for Muslims to back-bite, slander or divide up into groups off of the Straight Path of Allah. Certainly, this is what the prophet, peace be upon him, taught as well.

Most notably Allah has told us clearly in the Quran not to divide up into schisms or sects:

"O you who believe, have taqwa (God consiousness) for Allah, as it is His right that you do so, and do not die except as Muslims.

And hold tight to the rope of Allah altogether, and do not separate.." [Quran 3:102-103]

And Allah warns us against gossip, back-biting and insulting each other:

"O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them.
And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one's] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers." [Quran 49:11]

Being as much concerned as you are over such matters, I wrote an article about dividing up into groups and I made the effort to publish it on the internet. You are most welcome to read it:


In a message dated 10/25/2004 5:24:29 AM Eastern Standard Time, [name deleted] wrote:

Regarding Hamza Yusuf:
Recently it has escalated to the extent that Hamza Yusuf is misquoting the Quran, denying certain verses, presenting wrong hadeeth and in general showing Islam in the wrong light. And to make matters worse, he is doing it on prime time television. Due to his fame and access to the media, this now presents a great problem for all of us.

ANSWER October 27: Bismillah, was salat was salam ala rasoolullah, (In the name of Allah and the prayers and blessings be upon, prophet) It is only Allah who has all Knowledge. (Allahu 'Alim).

Before we begin, it is most important we not separate up into divisions and sects as mentioned in the above article. It is equally important not to slander, back bite or insult a brother or sister Muslima. If anything, it should be our intent and purpose to draw closer to each other in the faith of Islam and the brotherhood of all believers.

Having established that, we should make it clear we do consider Hamza Yusuf and those along with him, as Muslims without any doubt. The only question being presented here is whether or not statements and actions of their group are accepted by the general body of Muslims following the Quran and the sunnah of our prophet, peace be upon him.

The words you quote (above) are not my words, they have been added - others have been taking what I wrote (in private) to a brother years ago, and copied then altered and changed and posted on the web my comments...

All of this is haram and whoever does try to divide the Muslims with such tactics will have to face Allah for what they are doing.

However, I do not like it when people break up into cults and groups as this can also take people out of Islam..

If you know anyone who is a new Muslim and thinking of joining Sufies, Shiites, Salafees or any other group, you should warn them, this is exactly what our prophet, peace be upon him told us would happen.

Check out these links to better understand about the different groups and various belief systems some people have:

Concerning my own encounter with the teachers of Zaytunna Institute, it was this matter I reported on in my email so many years ago, along with comments about my meeting with Hamza Yusuf.

I entered the simple one room building called Zaytunna Institute and immediately removed my shoes to sit on the floor with others who were rocking back and forth, saying "Allah", "Allah", "Allah", "Allah". The instructor was Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi, the murshid Sufi spiritual master, from Syria. He had his head back, rocking back and forth saying "Allah", "Allah", "Allah", "Allah" over and over, and his students were all doing the same.

I left went back outside to meet with Hamza Yusuf. After a disappointing encouter, that does not need to be repeated, I attempted to go back inside and found the sufi master and his murids were still reciting the word "Allah" over and over.

When Al-Yaqoubi noticed me in the room, he quickly stopped his swaying about, sat up straight and then pronounced the word "Allah" in a firm manner telling the students, "I'm not saying you have to say this in any certain number, just helping you to pronounce the Arabic correctly." Yet, to me it was obvious he knew the newcomer to the group (me) was not impressed with this type of "sufi thikr".

This is the main point of my disclosure of events at the Zaytunna Institute then and now.

This is what Salem Morgan reported about such things:

Thanks for your questions. Answers are based on understandings of translations from Quran & Teachings of Muhammad, peace be upon him.

All answers and advice are based on information provided. We are not responsible for incorrection information from the questions.

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