Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Zaytuna College & Takfir of Ahmadi Muslims

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Zaytuna College & Takfir of Ahmadi Muslims


Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is a celebrated Islamic scholar in the United States. I have read some of his work and admire his knowledge on some Islamic issues. However, he has also disappointed me much on some other issues. In the last few years, for instance, he has written against the persecuted Ahmadi Muslims, clarifying that he identifies them as non-Muslim heretics. He was so worried he would d be mistaken on this issue that he advised his readers to delete any earlier comments he might have made in error, that identified the Ahmadis as Muslims. He has not only used demeaning words such as Fitna (menace or cancer) for the Ahmadi Muslims, but callously accused this peaceful non-violent community of Muslims of being responsible for 10,000 deaths across Pakistan. These prejudiced views and obscene allegations & accusations have been rebutted by many Ahmadi Muslims in detail. One such article written by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association in the UK can be found here.

So why am I writing about this now? Let me explain.

As I write this, there is a convention of Muslim clerics underway in Morocco. The aim of this conference is to find solutions to the rampant minority rights violations across the Muslim world, mostly at the hands of Sunni clergy. Since I keep a keen eye on these issues, I lauded this undertaking on Twitter. I saw Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s name on the list of speakers and was hopeful that he might have changed his views on the most persecuted religious minority in the Muslim world. Did he finally start naming and condemning Pakistan’s anti-Ahmadi laws that imprison Ahmadis for reciting the Quran, the Kalima, for identifying as Muslim, for identifying their place of worship as a Mosque etc? Did he remove himself from his earlier exclusion of and prejudice against the Ahmadi Muslims? Would he embrace them and speak for their right to self-identify and religious freedom? These were logical questions that came to mind because here was a Sunni cleric attending a conference aimed at upholding the rights of all minorities across the Muslim world, or so I hope. With this excitement, I tweeted out to him. When he did not respond, I turned my attention to his brainchild, the famous Zaytuna College, which I have also come to admire over the years.

Is this the same Hamza Yusuf who considered Ahmadis non-Muslim heretics and considered them a Fitna (cancer) amidst the Muslims? I was so excited when Zaytuna College responded back: “That is not true Kashif and you know it.” I was almost sure at this point that I might have missed the Shaykh’s comments in the recent months, and he sure seemed to have had a change of heart on this issue. He might have finally embraced inclusivity, and inculcated a newfound respect for pluralism within Islam.


I was even ready to take Zaytuna College’s word for it, without the need to confirm with the Shaykh himself. When they did not respond to me, I tweeted out the Shaykh’s earlier accusations and Takfir to them, so they would understand why it was important to direct me to his newer statements, if there were any.

To my surprise, Zaytuna hurriedly deleted their initial tweet in which they had denied Sheikh Hamza Yusuf’s Takfir of the Ahmadi Muslims.

Now, many people know Shaykh Hamza Yusuf as one of those very few Sunni clerics who condemn all Takfir, i.e. declaring other Muslims as non-Muslim heretics, and exclusion of their communities. But when it comes to the most persecuted Muslim community across the Muslim world, many do not know that Shaykh Hamza Yusuf follows the path of those who back their oppression. Not only does he pass Takfir against the Ahmadi Muslims, he has also refused to specifically condemn and call out the anti-Ahmadi laws of Pakistan.

Imagine the extent of anti-Ahmadi bigotry in the Sunni world if a moderate cleric like him is busy playing the anti-Ahmadi Takfiri game. I sincerely hope he will forego his divisive tendencies as he evolves in his understanding of Islam, and will one day embrace inclusivity and pluralism within the Muslim world. InshAllah.

As it stands, rather than embrace the Ahmadi Muslims, both Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Zaytuna College have preferred to stay away from this ‘Fitna’ and use their block options instead. Its easy and convenient.

But before blocking me, Zaytuna College did explain why they deleted the initial tweet denying Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s Takfiri statements. They said it was because I was harassing and abusing them. I have often seen such overly defensive attitudes from Pakistani Mullahs. But I really hoped Zaytuna College would not interpret my simple question as abuse/harassment, and would rather explain their position clearly. Well, I guess they did explain their position pretty clearly. They’d continue to consider the Ahmadis as non-Muslim heretics and a dangerous Fitna.

And then some of the Shaykh’s admirers took to Twitter in defense of his Takfir. Here is one example:


Yes, this is the same mentality that slave-owners had in America. “Blacks aren’t human, so owning them isnt human slavery.”

Anyways, I call on Zaytuna College and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf to do the right thing and embrace inclusivity and pluralism in the Muslim world and outside. I urge them to be bold and call out Pakistan’s anti-Ahmadi laws by name. I also call on the West to not be fooled by clerics who claim to be pluralistic and inclusive while hurting the Muslim communities they deem heretic and those they judge as a cancer (Fitna) within the Muslim world.

May Allah bless the Umma with common sense, tolerance, peace and love. Amen.

Kashif Chaudhry

Graduate of King Edward Medical University in Lahore, currently completing residency training in New Jersey, USA. Kashif writes for various American newspapers and Pakistani publications and blogs at the Huffington Post. His interests include Medicine, Pakistan affairs and Muslim-American community affairs.



Leave a Reply

9 thoughts on “Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Zaytuna College & Takfir of Ahmadi Muslims

  1. ‘Fitnah’ does not mean ‘menace/cancer’. It means a TEST/TRIAL. Please at least use Arabic properly before refuting an expert scholar at it, who is accepted and loved world-wide by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

  2. Thank you Kashif Ch. Here in Croatia many Muslims are fan of Sheikh. I was happy as read his comment in favour of Ahmadies. Now you quoted comments opposite to his previous ideas. Its ridiculous. Thanks for educating.

  3. I would not call him among ullama, These type of people do not know not even the basics of Islam, he just used his psychology and put it in words, its a shame !.
    No one can have the true sense or understanding of Islam unless he is associated with Hazrat Masih Maud (asw). They are lost people that don’t know what to say, and cannot think properly either. They just wake up one day and start making statements, these are rubbish so called scholars, or cleriks. All these people don’t even know why they consider us non Muslims, they heard other people say that, so they are trying to walk with the herd! Just because a very unfortunate man (bhutto) declared us non muslim due to absolute political greed. its just like cattle following each other.

  4. About calling other Muslims “kafir,” we read the following hadith: It is reported on the authority of Ibn `Umar that the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) said: Any person who calls his brother:
    O Unbeliever! (then the truth of this label) would return to one of them. If it is true, (then it is) as he asserted, (but if it is not true), then it returns to him (and thus the person who made the accusation is an Unbeliever). [Muslim]

  5. How you define a Muslim scholar and what makes him scholar ?People around globe wants scientific evidence this is 21 century convince the masses by scientific examples since these so called Islamic Clerics are not listen globally as stated in this article the cleric is known in the USA since he is not authority to declare a Muslim who practices religion Islam as Kafir or as non Muslim since the Cleric is Sadly mistaken due to his little knowledge which is dangerous your arguments and your anger here my reference to my Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who reflects the View points those they believed are correct and their believers since very controversial statement by Muslim Clerics who or his voice does not reflects the Global Muslim Voice the Muslim Cleric with his limited knowledge detest Ahmadiyya Muslim community here Question is did he find him as true believer of religion Islam and follower of Prophet Muhammad and his practices since there is no new sherriat on that Ahmadiyya Muslims believe or practices the Holy Book Quran is same and there is no Tehreef in it as we all Muslim Believe compare this with Judism or Christianity or Hunduism or Sikkhs or Buddhism or Atheist and Communism or Marxian socialism and Revisionism now Consider Old Testament and New Testament and why revision since there is no revision In Holy Book Quran On which we all Muslim coherently believe now consider revised edition of Old Testament and New Testament or Torrah and Bible revised version or Revised Standard Version Of Bible since there is no revision in Holy Quran till the day of Judgement here question arose in minds of other religions if there is no revision Edition of Holy Book Quran then why there is One sherriat E Muhammadi since there is no other Sherriat that Muslim practices including Ahmadiyya Muslim community then this so called Muslim Cleric of USA according to my angry young Scholar who is memember of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is Null and Void !

  6. I am truly disappointed as I too admired Sheikh Hamza , but after reading this article I am very disappointed ! But than what should we expect ! If he has fear of almighty Allah ( swt) he to will swept away in flood of mullahs

    Imam Ibrahim Noonan ( Ireland )

  7. That is the very reason I suppose, the Holy Prophet of Islam has decreed that a time will come when the Ulamaa in his Ummah will be the worst creature under the skies and when people will go to them to seek advise but instead they will find them like the swine and the monkeys.
    That time has come and these so called scholars of Islam are the living proofs of the the saying of the Prophet (pbuh).

    1. Hamza Yusuf is known as a moderate peace-loving scholar. He has served as the advisor to former President Bush, has been outspoken against oppression and intolerance and have even spoken out against the oppression of Ahmadis in Pakistan. Yet, just because he don’t accept you as Muslims you believe him to be the worst creature under the sky, and compare him to swines and monkeys. What does that tell you about yourself?