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Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf - Iraq

issue 51 vol. 5 September 2017

Imam Ali(a), a Loving Father L I F E & C O M M U N I T Y:



E N G L AN D ’ S L I T T L E ‘ T AJ M AH AL ’

Eid Al Adha 2017 Mubarak Eid Al Adha Prayer Friday 1st September @ 9.00 AM Islamic Centre of England 140 Maida Vale, London W9 1QB


issue 51 vol. 5 September 2017

islam today magazine is a monthly magazine

published by the London based Islamic Centre of England. It focuses on the activities of the communities affiliated to the Centre, reflecting a culture of openness and respect towards other religious communities both Islamic and non. The magazine is available in paper and digital format.

Editorial team Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour Amir De Martino


Spiritual Retreat Camp


What About Me?


Home education and Muslim families

Innovative Graphics Follow us: islamtodaymag @islamtodaymaguk

Publisher The Islamic Centre of England 140 Maida Vale London W9 1QB Tel: +44 20 7604 5500 ISSN 22051-250 Disclaimer: All information in this magazine is verified to the best of the authors’ and the publisher’s ability. However, islam today shall not be liable or responsible for loss or damage arising from any users’ reliance on information obtained from the magazine.

by Batool Haydar

by Hannah Smith

Up North In the Spotlight -Tasawir Bashir Heritage- Islamic fountain Installation - Not My Cup OfTea Peace Fountain Project by Moriam Grillo

Contact us Information Letters to the Editor Article Submissions

Kawthar Learning Circle West Coast - Canada

14 Art

Anousheh Mireskandari

Layout and Design



Dreams; between reality and illusion


Imam Ali(a), a Loving Father

by Abbas Di Palma

by Kubra Rizvi

Francis & order ofsainthood 20 Pope by Revd Frank Julian Gelli

22 England’s little ‘Taj Mahal’ Travel Guide to Muslim Europe by Tharik Hussain

21 Interfaith event

Camp 24 Summer Children Corner

by Ghazaleh Kamrani

26 What & Where Listing ofEvents

28 Muharram programme............................... September 2017

September 2017

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Kawthar Learning Circle

West Coast - Canada

Spiritual Retreat Camp


awthar Learning Circle held its first West Coast spiritual retreat from June 29 to July 1, 2017, in the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. KLC students and families from North America had the rare opportunity of spending spiritually inspiring and exclusive time with Sheikh Shomali and Sister Israa. We also had the privilege of the company of Sheikh Murtaza Bachoo and Sister Fatemah Meghji. KLC students and families, in all 50 people, came from far and wide; Houston (Texas), Hamilton, Winnipeg and Edmonton (Canada). Some special guests from Vancouver also attended some events during the retreat.


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The following was prepared by the help of KLC students and participants.

- Emphasis on keeping good relationships with people around us

Stanley Park Picnic and Discussion

- Being role models - as Muslims following true teachings from the Qur’an and from the ‘Ahlul Bayt'(as)

June 29, 201 7

The West Coast Retreat started with many participants getting together at Stanley Park for a breakfast picnic. We ate a hot home-cooked breakfast and ‘Khoja’ tea along with lots of other goodies. The picnic served as a ‘meet and greet’ with KLC friends and families who joined us from the US and other parts of Canada. Afterwards, Sheikh Shomali gave us some ‘pearls of wisdom’ as guidelines for life. Some of the points in brief were:

“One of my favourite parts of the day was the Quranic Tafseer programme after morning prayer. Despite the late nights, I didn't want to miss out on the Tafseer, but we managed to wake up on time and sit through the programme and learn valuable lessons from it.” –Masuma (Vancouver)

- Importance of reflection, contemplation and self-evaluation - ‘Tafakkur’ (reflection) and ‘Tadabbur’ (contemplation) important tools for making righteous decisions - Importance of presenting Islam to other communities in the right way - by our actions - We as human beings are unique; we are not triggered by external facts or internal pressure; we can still control ourselves using our free will. The picnic was followed by noon prayer led by Sheikh Shomali at the AzZahraa Islamic Centre in Richmond followed by a light lunch. Camp Bridal

The group then assembled into different cars and drove to Camp Bridal, the venue of the retreat. Nestled at the base of Mt. Cheam, Camp Bridal is a short drive to the beautiful Bridal Falls Provincial Park. The group was in the main lodge at Camp Bridal, with our own kitchen. Men were on the ground floor while all the ladies and children were upstairs on the first floor.

Opening Address - Sheikh Shomali How to present Islam in the West June 29, 201 7

Sheikh Shomali’s opening address on the theme was thought- provoking. We started with an interactive discussion on the theme followed by a Q&A session. Summary ofthe topic: - Islam is a universal message for everyone - for all human beings - The Prophet(s) was a warner and Rahma (mercy) for ‘al-Alamein’ (all of God’s creations) - The message first came not for ‘alAlamein’ but as a practical measure - The Prophet(s) first invited his closest kin and then Islam slowly and gradually spread to the wider public - Towards the end of the life of the Prophet(s), he was sending letters to kings and emperors also inviting them towards Islam - The message of Islam was for all communities, Arabs, Asians and all others. - The Qur’an is and has been a constant source of guidance for all humanity from the beginning of time and until the end of the world - The Qur’an is a source of light. If we are really sincere and try to understand it, with God’s grace it will illuminate our lives in ways that have not been achieved by previous generations. - God is constantly sending down mercy and guidance through the Qur’an - To inspire people towards Islam, we as Muslims need to make sure that we portray ourselves as good Muslims and successful in our worldly lives

“It is amazing how sleep flew away as we were engaged in the Tafseer. Although a very short chapter, its message is very profound”.

- Masuma (Vancouver)

Interactive Quranic Tafseer - chapter Al-Asr: June 30, 201 7

On the morning of June 30, Sheikh Shomali gave an in-depth Tafseer of chapter Al-Asr after Fajr prayers. This was an insightful and interactive Tafseer session.

A briefsummary on the Tafseer: God starts with qasm (swearing by asr), to draw our attention to it. ‘Asr’ may mean time, afternoon or age, which is a portion of our life. ‘Khasara’ means losing - and losing even our capital. God has given us capital - something valuable given to us in the form of fitrah (primordial human nature). So time is the capital that we are losing, but if we have iman (belief) and righteous deeds, we’ll be saved from loss and we will indeed grow and become better. ‘Iman’ means that we open ourselves to the truth that God has presented to us through his revelation. Iman brings righteous deeds; actions are the outcome of iman. ‘Amalu Salehat’ means to do good September 2017


Participants' comments Camp Bridal - The Venue:

deeds and make the intention of doing good even if we cannot achieve our goal. We’re all gifted with very valuable capital, but we will lose it unless we turn it into something endurable that will remain forever. But we can only do this if we have iman and ‘a‘mal saleh’ and only by enjoining each other towards truth and patience. Cultus Lake

In addition to the spiritual and intellectual aspect of the camp, being in the presence of nature was very inspiring. It is a blessing to be able to reflect and think outside one's day to day life while being in the midst of the God's wonderful creation. The group went hiking followed by paddle boating on Cultus Lake. This served as a chance for the brothers, sisters and children to create new bonds and strengthen the ties of social wilayah. Interactive session with Sister Israa

The ladies had an interactive session with Sr. Israa on the importance of Islamic schools for our children in the West. We discussed some of the advantages and challenges faced by Islamic schools in the West. It was interesting to hear the parents’ perspective as well as the teachers’ views and experiences. Sr. Israa is very talented. She shared her insight on the importance of nurturing our children with the teachings of the Holy Qur’an,


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the Holy Prophet(s) and his family.

“The place was truly breathtakingly beautiful, surrounded by mountains and lakes. One immediately feels a sense of peace and tranquillity enters the heart. A feeling of gratitude and appreciation of God’s beauty and blessings encompasses us”. Sajeda (Vancouver)

Interactive Quranic Tafseer - chapter Al-Nasr

Children’s activities:

“One of my favourite parts of the day was the Quranic Tafseer programme after morning prayer. Despite the late nights, I didn't want to miss out on the Tafseer, but we managed to wake up on time and sit through the programme and learn valuable lessons from it.” –Masuma (Vancouver)

“The children really enjoyed painting bird feeders at the camp. They were excited to take the bird feeders home and have now kept them on the trees to attract and feed the birds....” - Shaheena (Vancouver)

A summary ofthe Tafseer “This Surah was revealed towards the end of the life of the Prophet when almost all of the Arab Peninsula had become Muslims. Surah Al-Nasr is very brief but has very profound ideas. Nasr in Arabic sometimes means victory, but in this chapter, Nasr probably means assistance and fath (victory). Victory is when you are following the path of God and the real victory is when the hearts of people are soft and open for you.

If victory is from God, it makes you more humble, grateful and mindful of him. Success is when you manage to remove barriers and let the light of God spread. So when this success comes, we should do tasbih which comes with hamd (gratefulness). We do this for two reasons: the beautiful qualities God possesses and the beautiful actions He does. To be humble and evaluate the blessings in our lives, we do tawbah and istighfar (repentance). We pray that we are able to follow the same path that the Prophets and

Participants' comments

awliya’ (saints) of God have shown us and dedicate our lives to the remembrance of Him and bringing His light to our families, community, and all humanity wherever we are”. (Write-up contributed by Sajeda Vancouver) Theme Address - Sheikh Shomali Presenting Islam in the West - June 30

Sheikh Shomali continued the topic with a brief history of Kawthar Learning Circle and how it started. Individuals in Eastern Canada were very much interested in gaining deeper Islamic knowledge and urged Sheikh Shomali during his visits to Canada to start something online as these individuals could not attend hawza (seminaries) studies. Their enthusiasm and persistence paved the way to start an online programme with students from different cities. Within a short time, there were around 30 students who joined the group. Main discussion points on presenting Islam in the West:

God revealed to Musa, “Endear Me to

My people and endear My people to Me.” Make them love me and make them lovable to me.’ So Musa said, “O God how should I do this?” God said, “Remind them of my blessings and bounties so that they love.” When people remember how much God has blessed them, they will naturally love Him and when people receive kind and considerate treatments, they appreciate it. So God has told us to remind people of His blessings and bounties. God said to Musa: “…if you manage to bring someone who has run away or been misguided, this is better for you than hundred years of worshipping in this way: every day you fast and every night you keep awake and do tahajjud (recommended night prayer)”. Then Musa(a) asked, “Who is the one who has run away?” God said, “Those who have rebelled.” Then Musa asked, “Who is the one who is misguided and cannot reach You?” God said, “The one who is misguided is the one who doesn’t know who is the hujjah (the proof) of Allah, the

“The most significant part of the retreat to me was the presence of Shaykh Shomali and Sr Israa. As always they provide us with purpose and not only were the interactive sessions valuable but so was their presence in all our activities. I also thought the presence of KLC members from other parts of North America added great value to the retreat. Most of us were meeting each other for the first time and this will be, God willing, a building block for further interactions and social wilayah.” Meeting and being graced with the company of a family for two whole weeks… each and every moment with this family will be cherished. *

Waking up in the middle of the night to greet two KLC members who travelled across the continent to be with us and then witnessing their vibrant personalities. *

Meeting a quiet and humble personality who demonstrated determination in doing so much more with the blessing of life from God. *

“What differentiates this retreat from other retreats, camps and conferences, is that KLC has a framework inside which one can work. So instead of leaving motivated without knowing what to work on, we have a programme that helps us keep on track in regards to pursuing knowledge. Additionally, meeting members of the KLC community who are working towards the same goal of seeking Islamic knowledge helps as a source of motivation even after we have all returned to our respective cities. Finally, being in the presence of Sheikh Shomali inspires us to be true to what we learn and persistent in our journey towards perfection”. - Hussein (Vancouver) September 2017


Participants' comments “We Muslims are encouraged to engage in social acts and acts of worship together; our prayers in congregation, or even eating together brings blessings to Muslims. The concept of unity and brotherhood are very important in Islam and have the potential to bring the hearts of Muslims together. And that is exactly what we did during our retreat! Over a meal of lasagne, we had the most interesting discussions with Sheikh Shomali and Sister Israa in which everyone was passionately engaged. We bonded with our Muslim brothers and sisters during our hike and picnic at Cultus Lake while learning so much more”. “The aspect that I really admired about Sheikh Shomali is that he puts great emphasis on interfaith dialogue which is a sort of coming together, a family reunion. Our interaction with the Focolare Community was very heartwarming, it showed how similar we are in our beliefs and it also demonstrated that interfaith dialogue is the key to peace in this world”. - Zahida (Vancouver)

Imam of his time, or the one who may know but has missed the connection with him, the one who doesn’t know the rulings ofhis religion.” Some important guiding points for people in the west and their responsibilities: - We should do everything in our capacity to bring people towards God, to make them love Him more, to make them appreciate religion more, to facilitate their relationship with scholars and the religious community. - Muslims, who live in the West or even if they do not live in the West, have ways of communicating Islam to people in the West and have a historical responsibility on their shoulders. Their first responsibility is to maintain own belief and that of their children and families. But it’s not enough for them to just maintain their own belief. - The Qur’an tells us, “O believers, save yourselves and your family from the fire,” “O those who believe, you must be concerned about yourselves. Those who are misguided, if you are guided, would not harm you.” - If Muslims who are in the West can create a respectful, meaningful relationship with the people who are here, it can affect the lives of millions of people. - Imam Sadiq(a) said, “May God’s mercy be upon the one who brings the love of people towards himself and to us.” - Muslims should be adding to the love


September 2017

of people for God, to the love of people for Islam and the school of Ahl ul-bayt. This is the additional responsibility. - Muslims should do whatever they can to help people move towards God and if the relationship is affected, they should restore this relation. - It would not be reasonable to make any unnecessary addition to Islam that would make their acceptance or respect for Islam more difficult. - Islam should not be presented as an alternative to any culture. - Present Islam as it is, without one’s own feelings, and tell people that there are many positive aspects in their culture that we appreciate and Islam also likes these positive elements and maybe they’d like to consider other aspects of Islam, just as an addition, not a replacement. - Muslims have to maintain their own iman, their Islamic identity, which is different from their cultural identity. - Muslims should remember their Islamic identity does not involve exclusion or rejection of others; rather, they can base it on what they are and how they can relate to other people Interaction with Focolare Community Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre - July 1 , 201 7

After the retreat, we had a unique and amazing experience at Az-Zahraa Islamic centre. A few members of the

Participant's comments

Focolare Christian Community visited the centre and we had an informative time meeting them, having lunch together and sharing our experiences. It was really inspiring to listen to Sheikh Shomali’s personal experience with the Christian community over the last 20 years. This has motivated me personally to engage with the Focolare and other Christian communities in Vancouver so that we can work together to establish a world full of peace. Interaction with the Youth Committee on ‘A Journey into Islam’ Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre

The youth committee at Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre had an inspiring time showcasing some of the exhibits from ‘A Journey Into Islam’. ‘A Journey into

Islam’ is an initiative undertaken by the youth of the Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre, designed to convey the core beliefs and practices of the Islamic faith in an interactive and comprehensible manner to nonMuslims. The aim is to create a comfortable environment in which guests from all cultures and religion are welcome to ask questions and engage in dialogue with members of our community. The youths received very positive feedback from Sheikh Shomali and Sister Israa. This has inspired the youngsters to revisit some of the exhibits and incorporate fresh ideas and information into the exhibits for the next event coming up in January 2018.


“We had a beautiful and enriching experience at the camp. It was refreshing to wake up with 40 other individuals at fajr, pray in congregation, and begin our day with reflections on the Holy Qur’an. Although we discussed two short chapters of Qur’an, the messages they conveyed were deep and eyeopening. We feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to meet the wonderful community in Vancouver, the other KLC members who joined from various locations, and to have been in the presence of our dear Sheikh Shomali and Sr. Israa. The sense of social wilayah there resonated loud and clear. The Sheikh’s main discussion on Islam in the West was interesting and thought-provoking. He reminded us how a mu’min (believer) is like water – takes the form of the container but doesn’t lose its essence or substance. Thus, living in the West, we need to learn to adapt without losing our identity or essence. He posed a rhetorical question that greatly reverberated within me: “Are we going to isolate ourselves and keep Islam on the margin or will we bring Islam to mainstream society while maintaining its authenticity?” He underlined the importance of being united, successful and virtuous as a community, and only then God Willing will we be able to soar to greater heights”. – Abdullah & Maryam (Hamilton)

September 2017


Life & Community

What About Me? Questioning the responsibilities and role of a new mother, Batool Haydar explores what can better describe ‘me time’.


ne of the greatest challenges of motherhood is the level of never-ending commitment involved. From the moment you become aware that you are nurturing a life within you, you begin to slowly weave a bond between yourself and this new human being. The strands that tie a mother to her child only grow thicker with time. At first, love and the ‘new-ness' of the relationship sustains the total 24-hour dedication that an infant demands, but as the days turn into weeks and then months, many women begin to feel the strain of this utter dependency - physically as well as emotionally. When I was pregnant, I thought the biggest challenge would be changing diapers and lack of sleep, but like all habits, my mind and body adapted quickly to something that I was doing so regularly. Motherhood felt relatively easy while the only things my daughter needed were to be fed and kept clean, warm and dry. As she now heads for her third birthday, the reality of what lies ahead is beginning to dawn on me. And it is far from easy. This child with only the beginnings of a vocabulary already demands my mental attention every waking moment. She asks questions, and then asks them


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again (and again) until she gets an answer that is satisfactory to her, which leaves me having to play a game of guess, supplying variations of the same statement in the hope of hitting the right one with the minimum amount of repetition. She demands - assumes ownership

even - my emotions, my expressions, my gestures and my speech. Sometimes I can't sit next to my husband and talk to him because I am ‘her mama' and should be talking ‘only to her'. Any quality time I might want to spend with my other half has to wait until she's asleep and usually by the time I get everything else done that I haven't been able to do while she's awake,

I'm too exhausted to be bothered to spell ‘quality', let alone seek it. Through all of this, I have often joined other mothers in the woeful cry for ‘me-time'. I have felt the hostility at having to pass up activities and social interac tion while my spouse never has to think twice when he's invited to go play (or even watch!) footy with ‘the boys'. When I talk about ‘the girls', I am usually referring to my daughter and her friends. The need to find something that is other than mothering weighs oppressively over me some days. And then recently (perhaps after the endless requests for empathy on my part) my husband began to push me to take time to do ‘your thing' while he looked after the baby. So I joined a weekly swimming group, a craft club and a book club - all things I love and missed a lot. However, after a couple of months, the gnawing restlessness came back and despite having the time and freedom to do ‘unmotherly' stuff, I still couldn't shake off the feeling that I wasn't getting ‘metime'. I began to wonder what it was that I was looking for and why it was proving so elusive. Whatever it was, I couldn't find it in an odd hour or two every

week, it was something I needed on a daily basis. It wasn't me-time I was seeking as much as my-self. I needed to find peace and contentment where I was. As I re-read the blogs and articles that spoke of finding time to do the things that matter to you outside of the role of motherhood, I began to realise that for me - as I would think the case with any Muslim - the things I did and enjoyed somehow always connected to and stemmed from my faith. Reading, keeping healthy and handcrafts are all recommended in Islamic traditions and they are not just an indulgence for me, but also a reminder than we can find God even in the things we consider to be ‘personal' or ‘leisure'. It became a case of seeking the intersection between my pleasure and that of God in my new circumstances. Being a mother is the new role that I have been honoured with, why should it be something I seek escape from? Seeking me-time within this space has become the new adventure for me. In the quiet moments when I observe

my daughter play, I don't think about how I can't turn my attention away for even a moment. Instead, I marvel at the new skills she seems to acquire on a daily basis with no help or guidance from me. The eagerness to explore, the innocence that doesn't know what failure means, the persistent curiosity, are all qualities I need to learn and adopt in my own journey towards God. When I have to simplify my thought processes and try to explain a complex concept with minimum words, I marvel at the beauty of the Qur'an, at this Message that contains the Infinite and manages to convey it to the simple human mind through finite words. Prayers that are usually rushed through because of everything else that's left to do have become a retreat, because they are the time for me to communicate and bond with my Lord; a connection that I must nurture and strengthen if I ever hope to make my child understand and embrace it. Everything I do is now preceded by the question ‘Is this for me?' Not for my temporary pleasure in this world, but

for my aakhira - for the real ‘me'. I still take part in the activities I enjoy, but I no longer look to them as a release from my responsibilities. They don't hold the promise of an escape, because I no longer feel imprisoned. Becoming a mother changes many things, including your perspectives and priorities. The things that were once important no longer hold their appeal. However, recognising and accepting this reality takes time. We tend to think our interests define who we are and a drastic change in them threatens our sense of identity. Once upon a time, my hobbies and work were chosen to help me in my journey towards falling in love with God, but they have served their purpose and I have moved on to another phase along this path. I am no longer the person I was two and a half years ago and I never will be that person again. Motherhood is not a role you play, or a responsibility you accept. It is something you become.


September 2017


Home education and Muslim families Is home schooling a good option for Muslim families? Hannah Smith explores the pro and cons


or many people in the UK, the education of children and young people is synonymous with schools; it can come as quite a surprise to hear that it is possible to educate children at home, and even more so that there are thousands of parents who are currently “home-schooling”. As a mother of a toddler, home-schooling is not something I had considered as an option, but having stumbled across inspiring communities of home educators and Muslim home educators in my local city, I now consider it a viable and attractive option that may allow a Muslim family to more fully realise their Islamic ideals of family and education. Education, as it stands in UK law, is something that parents are obliged to provide either at school or elsewhere, but according to the 1996 Education Act there is no legal obligation that a child must attend school. This is however, not true of all countries, in 11 European countries it is a legal right, but in some such as the Netherlands and Germany, there is a compulsory requirement to attend school, and those parents who have opposed the law have been threatened with having their children taken away. Out of the nine and a half million children of school age in the UK, estimates put the number of children being home educated at between 35,000 to 50,000. In the last six years alone there has been a 65% increase in home schooling with no sign of any slowdown in the trend.


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So why do parents decide to home educate their children? The reasons for home educating are as varied as families in the UK, and include a combination of reasons including bullying, lack of resources in mainstream schooling for special needs children, dissatisfaction with mainstream school curriculums, environments and methods (e.g. poor behaviour, dull curriculums, too much emphasis on testing), ideological reasons, illness, desire for closer family relationships, and even underhand efforts by schools to force low achieving and poorly behaving students to be home educated to improve school league tables. In the online and physical communities that I have explored in my local city, I have found all these reasons and more cited by Muslim and non-Muslim educators alike. In my experience, one of the strongest reasons for home educating that is cited by parents is the desire for a more engaging and meaningful education that holistically prepares children for adult life; an education that nurtures a child's unique talents and interests, an education that goes beyond 10 academic subjects, and an education that provides more than a superficial treatment of extra-curricular subjects and experiences. Additionally, many Muslim home educators feel that the spiritual, moral and social aspects and achievements of school are inadequate considering the proportion of time children spend in them while growing up. Rather than observing an

improvement in children's morals and manners, parents are often aggrieved when their children are bullied and exposed to or become involved with drugs, gang culture and sexual activity; aspects of schooling that they consider unacceptable and which outweigh its positive aspects. Muslim home educators also find that the curriculum flexibility and greater efficiency afforded by one-to-one and small-group teaching allows greater time to cover Islamic studies curricula and for building community, service and charitable activities into everyday life. I interviewed Irem Mumtaz, a Muslim mother of two in Birmingham who gave up her career as a tax advisor to home educate her children, about her motivations. She explained that she chose to home educate “mostly because going out to the home education groups I was able to see how well-rounded the kids were. One of the big things for me is teaching morals to the kids and helping the community, which is why I do take them to food banks and refugee centres and they help out. That kind of thing, you can put it into your daily life, as opposed to sending your kids away to school for six, seven hours, and by the time you pick them up they're completely tired and then having to figure that out once every few months or whatever. It's not something you can include easily. Whereas for us it's just part of normal life.” Irem also cited the opportunity to build stronger family relationships and

parental influence as an important factor in her decision to home educate, explaining that “with the friends whose kids go to school ... a lot of them …. they've realised they're losing their patience a lot more with their kids, snapping more …. because by the time they get picked up and brought home from school they're overtired, they've just had a full day, and they don't really want to engage with the parents. Even that relationship with the parent slightly breaks down as well and changes.” The manner in which families choose to home educate is similarly varied, but very rarely is it a case of a child sitting at home all day every day doing schooltype work. Some parents choose to follow ready-made off the shelf curriculums complete with resources and textbooks, while others choose to follow the interests of the child entirely, a philosophy and method known as 'autonomous home education or 'unschooling', although most parents I have met pick and mix various textbooks, resources, and outside activities and lessons. There is a fantastic selection of out-ofhome group lessons and activities in many cities ranging from arts and crafts to forest and nature activities to science lessons, all purpose-built for home educated children. Some of these activities are led by parents at minimal cost and others are taught by professionals with the motivations behind such classes and clubs being tri-fold: to provide opportunities for social interaction and fostering friendships between children, to provide access to professional tuition, and to widen educational opportunities in an economical and efficient manner. Muslim home-educators supplement their children's schedules with Arabic and Islamic Studies taught in the home and via individual and group tuition; often utilising the standard mosque after-school and weekend provision.

One of the biggest criticisms made by opponents of home education is the apparently poor socialisation of home educated children and adults, however this is actually rarely an issue as most home educators meet up regularly with other home educating families in their local area whether for educational clubs or more social fun and games type gatherings. The lack of age stratification and frequent multi-age and intergenerational mixing means in reality that home educated children are often much more skilled at mixing with people of different ages than traditionally schooled children, thus are much better prepared for adult life beyond school, including the workplace. Likewise home educators are accused of limiting their children's exposure to people of different backgrounds compared to schools, but again I find this argument hollow as I have met and observed cordial relations between families of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds at home educator gatherings, and it is clear that in many neighbourhoods, schools are strongly homogenised by the prevailing ethnicity and class concentrations within the local catchment area.

In light of the issues mainstream schooling poses to Muslim families living in the UK, and in view of the paucity of good Islamic schools that offer a truly effective moral and spiritual education for British children, home education in my eyes presents an attractive alternative method of educating Muslim children in this country. It opens up opportunities for Muslim families to build deeper relationships between parent and child, to build better relationships family to family in the local community of Muslims and non-Muslims, it enables young people to learn in both greater depth and breadth in Islamic and secular subjects, and it allows young people to dedicate more time to charitable and service activities whilst importantly minimising their prematurity exposure to vice and immorality.


Hannah Smith has a Masters

degree in Geophysics and a Post Graduate Certificate in Secondary Science Education. Currently, she works as a parttime Science Teacher.

September 2017



Up North For the last few summers, I have enjoyed visiting galleries in the north of England, namely the Nottingham contemporary, Tate Liverpool, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester. It has been inspiring to experience exhibitions by notable international artists in new spaces far from the madding crowds of London. Being from the south, it is too easy to feel there is no need to journey beyond the capital to engage in the arts and culture. The reality is that the wealth of creative offerings beyond the Watford Gap is worthy of our attention.

In the Spotlight Tasawir Bashir An interesting exhibition by artist, Tasawir Bashir entitled Dam Pani (trans. Blessed Water) is on display at the New Art Exchange until September 24. This mixed media installation comprises of a synthesis of the elements water, earth and air, creating a complex and thought-provoking art piece which harnesses conceptual unseen aspects of our spiritual experience and presents them through tangible components. Bashir is currently undertaking a PhD at Birmingham University and an academic/artist residency at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham. His doctorate continues an ongoing enquiry for Bashir which began with the exploration of data sourced from stellar events such as cosmic background noise, star formation, pulsars and solar plasma. His current work shows a development of these ideas. For this work, cosmic information was juxtaposed against the sacred word Allah performed by Nusrat Ali Khan whom Bashir describes as the best qawwali singer of the modern era. To accomplish this, Bashir used Farad Uddin Attar’s Conference of the Birds to create a cultural context. The scientific search for life beyond our known universe offered a tangible coincidence with which to explore the concept from an ahistorical standpoint. The result is a coherent reflection of our intrinsic need to seek out the truth regarding our existence, the necessity to arrive at a point of knowing. With Dam, Pani Bashir again experiments with abstraction as he invites us to explore the essence of our spiritual experience. It is


September 2017

The Place to Be New Art Exchange, Nottingham This summer, I visited the NAE for the first time. It is a unique art space which values diversity by focusing on BME (black and minority ethnic) narratives which contemporary western art galleries fail to do. Central to the urban renaissance of Nottingham, NAE hopes to create a space where marginalised groups in society can engage in creative expression and stimulating debate. Run by African, Caribbean and South Asian artists the centre is a ground-breaking example of the future of arts in the UK as a way of including diverse groups by sharing stories, ideas and new perspectives. New Art Exchange 39-41 Gregory Boulevard Nottingham NG7 6BE a sacred space for us, to stop, to witness, to see geometric vibrations created by sound interacting with water. The water lends itself endlessly through its ripples of abstraction which Bashir skilfully orchestrates. In this way, Dam Pani is a homage to Khan. A homage which, by proxy, pays testimony to a higher and Absolute Divine Greatness. Through the repetitive utterances, Bashir explores the depths of its meaning. Its magnitude is reflected in its vibrating sounds. Bashir is inviting us to see things more deeply, more clearly, to witness a spiritual quotient that connects us with other worlds.

Heritage Islamic fountain

Early 17th century Attributed to India, Deccan Brass; cast in sections, joined and engraved Dimensions: H 97.7 cm W 67.6 cm L93.2 cm

Some of the forms on this fountain, such as its hourglass shape and the lion mask (kirttimukha) on its spout, can be traced to Hindu sources, but their combination with a strong architectural profile and articulated ribs, places its production at one of the Muslim courts of the Deccan. The fountain was formed from seven separately cast parts soldered together in a

fashion reminiscent of contemporary cannon construction. Water would have been forced up through the pipe that projects from the base of the fountain and would have trickled down the outside from the circular well at the top. Water was an important part of Deccani palaces: buildings were set in or next to reservoirs, and fountains and ornamental pools were placed throughout palaces, including on the upper floors. (Text courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Installation Not My Cup OfTea “I always found it difficult culturally knowing where to fit in. I wanted to be a good Muslim, but I was an immediate outcast for being mixed. And I felt guilty about that.” – Sarah Maple The emerging artist Sarah Maple is as edgy as they come. Although brought up in a Muslim household, Maple’s parents were of mixed religious and cultural backgrounds. Maple’s art conveys her desire to challenge our perceptions of identity, religious or otherwise. To this end, ‘Not My Cup of Tea’ explores the idea of Britishness against the reality of being Muslim in an environment that seeks to shut down, shut up or shut out those that adhere to values that are not regarded as traditionally British. With wit and sarcasm, this exhibition considers the current debate around integration charting the rise in xenophobia

whilst offering a quick ‘fix-in-the-moment’ opportunity to respond. Maple offered her audience a soapbox and megaphone, posters and badges to wear and share. In this way, Maple affords her audience a’ chance to engage, to feel empowered and a chance to make a difference. ‘Not My Cup of Tea’ is on show at NAE until October 1

Peace Fountain Project At the end of this month, there will be an unveiling of a public art piece I have been working on for the past few months. The Peace Fountain Project is the second public art piece I have completed in Luton. Funded by Amal and the Church Urban Fund, the project serve as a catalyst to bring together disparate members of the Luton community and serve as a metaphor for peace across faiths and ethnicities. Based on the geometric pattern known as the Breath of The Compassionate, this artwork joins a growing series across the country which encourages unity and upliftment through art.


The fountain will be open to the public from September 30 Stockwood Discovery Centre London Road Luton LU1 4LX

Moriam Grillo is an international

award winning artist.She holds Batchelor degrees in photography & film and Ceramics and is currently studying for a masters in Art Therapy. Moriam is also founder of the Butterfly Project.

September 2017




BETWEEN REALITY AND ILLUSION Dreaming is one of the physical abilities bestowed upon human beings. However, interpreting dreams is not a job for all, says Abbas Di Palma


tudying human potentialities and capabilities is not an easy task. The human being is a very complex creature: from his physical abilities to his power of thought and his soul’s faculties, he has been subject to numerous studies undertaken in the field of humanities and even metaphysics. One of the more interesting features of the mysterious human realm is undoubtedly the world of dreams. According to Islamic traditions, some dreams have special peculiarities. In the twelfth chapter of the Qur’an, they hold a particular and meaningful position along the narration of the story of Prophet Yusuf. The holy Qur’an mentions a dream that Yusuf related to his father Ya’qub who told him not to reveal it to his brothers because they would plot against him. The Qur’an also describes the capability of the Prophet Yusuf to interpret dreams as an adult, as he did, for example, when he interpreted the dreams of his two fellow prisoners and that of Pharaoh. From Yusuf’s story, we learn that sometimes even the dream of a child can be truthful. Another important factor to be deduced is not to reveal


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our dreams to any random person, especially if there is the possibility of aversion from their side. Rather dreams could be recounted to those who are worthy of hearing them, as in the case of the two prisoners who asked Yusuf’s interpretation as he was a good man: “Inform us of the interpretation of these [dreams] for we surely find you ofthe good-doers” (12:36). Also a Prophetic narration adds: “The truthful dream is one of the seventy parts of prophecy”. This tradition could also be translated using “truthful

vision”. However, many Muslim scholars have interpreted it as “dream”. Furthermore, prophetic histories bring witness that a good number of prophets received revelations through a truthful dream like the history of Abraham and his son Ismael: “He said: -My son! I have seen in a dream that I sacrifice you. So consider what you think-. He said: -My father! Do as you are commanded if God wills you will find me among the patient-. So when both of them submitted themselves and he laid him down on his forehead we called out to him saying: - You have fulfilled the dream. That is how we reward the good-doers.” (37:102-105).

Even in the case of the Prophet of Islam, we have details on how even before receiving the final revelation from the Archangel Gabriel; he used to have very blessed dreams. Even during his mission, he dreamt about his victorious entrance into Makkah of which the Qur’an says: “God has fulfilled for His Messenger the dream: you shall enter the holy mosque safe and secure” (48:27). Moreover, the expression ‘truthful dream’ implies that not all dreams are in fact ‘truthful’ and they may not be meaningful, illusory or even satanic (not devoid of evil influence). It has been said that usually dreams accompanied by suffering, anxiety and confusion are not truthful dreams but it would be very difficult to generalise and provide a full set of rules related to this topic as rationality is not able to grasp dreams and the way they work. We may say that dreams are connected to ‘another world’ and they may be able to reawaken in us certain dormant realities already present in our soul. It is true that the relation of man with his soul and the ‘other world’ is not confined to dreams but this does not mean that dreams should be discarded and considered unworthy or a phenomenon devoid of meaning. In the exegesis Majma’ al-Bayan the author Allamah Tabrisi reports that Ubbada Ibn Samit, a companion of the Prophet, asked him about the verse: “Those who believed and are Godwary shall have glad tidings in this life and in Hereafter” (10:63-64) and the Prophet said that it was a reference to a good dream. In ‘al-Ikhtisas’ the author Shaykh Mufid reports a tradition from the great Imam al-Sadiq saying: “When a servant disobeys God and God wants good for him, He

sun while its rays radiate to the earth.

scares him in the dream so that he may stop with his sin”. All these examples point out the fact that there is a connection between certain types of dreams and the spiritual life of individuals. In our modern era, the question of the interpretation of dreams has become popular in some non-religious circles. Some curious personalities have presented criteria and ideas disconnected to spiritual realities. Islamic scholars have introduced many ways for distinguishing between real and illusory dreams; however, for the sake of brevity, it would be enough here to say that when a dream coming from a faithful person is clear it may be considered truthful while if it is ambiguous it may be in need of clarification or even illusory. Obviously, familiarity with certain unexplored areas is fundamental to get this type of certainty whose related knowledge is studied at times as a branch of ulum al-ghariba (the nondescriptive sciences). Certainly, the awareness of the soul is a valid support for this as it is said when the believer’s soul is in a state of sleep, it moves to the sky and all that it sees there is the truth while all that he sees in the earth is illusory. ‘Moving to the sky’ here does not mean that the soul totally leaves the body but rather refers to its extension similar to the vision of the

A truthful dream can therefore make us aware of many hidden and meaningful things which we don’t think much about: this is why sometimes we get wisely inspired by dreams and at other times we find future events shown in them. Although a faculty of distinction is needed for a correct understanding, it one should not underestimate the phenomenon as a whole.


A 'Dreamcatcher' (Ojibwe: asabikeshiinh) A Native American object

Hujjatul-Islam Abbas Di Palma is an Italian convert, graduated from the Hawza Ilmiyya of London. He holds a MA in Islamic Studies and is currently lecturing at The Islamic College London.

September 2017


O Imam Ali(a), a Loving Father Leadership, bravery and social justice were all fatherly lessons given to Imam Hasan and Husayn by their father Imam Ali (a). He can be considered as a perfect role model for fathers today, says Kubra Rizvi

n Eid al-Ghadir we celebrate the appointment of Imam Ali (a) as the successor to Prophet Muhammad(s). Imam Ali (a) was undoubtedly the greatest servant of God after the Holy Prophet(s). He was the Commander of the Believers, an undefeated champion in battle, a generous caretaker of orphans and widows by night, a just ruler and a devoted worshiper of God. Nevertheless, he was also a loving and compassionate father. Since the Twelve Imams are our role models, it is essential to learn from the relationships they had with their children and how they raised their children. It is particularly important to learn how Imam Ali (a), Abul Aimmah (the Father of the Imams), interacted with Imam Hasan (a) and Imam Husayn (a), whom he raised to become the Imams after him. One of the earliest examples of Imam Ali’s training is found during the childhood of Imam Hasan (a) and Imam Husayn (a). Both brothers would always listen to the sermons of their grandfather in the mosque and then eagerly return home to inform their mother of what had been said. On one of these occasions, something unusual occurred. The usually eloquent Hasan (a) began to stutter. Lady Fatimah (sa) kindly enquired what the matter was, to which Hasan replied, “I sense the presence of someone who is more learned than me.” Imam Ali (a), who was standing in the corner of the room, embraced his son saying, “This is what I expected from you.” We see a father encouraging his son to relate the good he learns to other family members and to respect the more learned. He also provides an opportunity to his son to display his abilities and helps stimulate his speech. Another incident from the childhood of Imam Hasan (a) was when Imam Ali (a) was returning from the Battle of Khaybar. Imam Hasan (a) asked him if he had brought them new clothes like the other soldiers had done for their families. Imam Ali (a) taught his young son the value of patience and generosity by responding that he had brought things for his family, but on his arrival to Madina, the poor had asked him for something. Hence, he had given everything away. Imam Hasan (a) witnessed first-hand the generosity of his father and observed his kindness to the orphans and needy. It is not surprising then that Imam Hasan himself became so generous that he is known as Karim Ahlul Bayt (the Generous One of the People of the House). As his children entered youth, it was apparent they had inherited the bravery and courage of the Lion of Allah, the bearer of the TwoEdged Sword. The strength of Imam Hasan (a) is apparent from his participation in all the battles Imam Ali (a) waged. He trained Hasan, who in turn trained his own siblings, namely Abbas(a). Imam Hasan (a) was an expert in warfare and in using the weaponry of the time.


Imam Ali (a) taught Imam Hasan (a) to make decisions and judgments by always referring to him and seeking his advice, as wisdom is taught by giving and taking advice. He would always send Imam Hasan (a) as his deputy and representative; for example, Imam Ali (a) sent Imam Hasan (a) to convince Aishah to return home. Imam Ali (a) always made Imam Hasan (a) his successor and pointed out to other family members and the people of the community that Imam Hasan (a) is the leader after him. He even said to Imam Husayn (a), “You will be my successor too. Obey Hasan until he is alive.” September 2017

Imam Ali (a) trained his children in every facet of life; worshiping God was no exception. Since the Prophet(s) stated that it is discouraged to perform acts of worship whilst alone, Imam Ali used to pray during the night while his children were asleep. It is well-known that the Imam prayed 1,000 rakat (cycles) each night, so imagine what an effect hearing 1,000 takbirs (proclamations that God is Great) would have, even on those children who were asleep! This action should not be considered trivial. In fact, according to Sayyid Tihrani in Liberated Soul, his teacher Sayyid Hashim Haddad said that the souls of children are spiritually magnificent and we should thus honour our children because they are significant beings. “If a child is taken to a place of sin, it contaminates his soul; however, if he is taken to a place of remembrance, worship or knowledge, then he absorbs that purity and clarity. Let your children be in the room where you mourn for the Imams or engage in the remembrance of God. The impact and impressions that a child acquires at that age become firmly rooted in him, much like his instincts and natural attributes.” Perhaps one of the most important examples of the training of Imam Ali is the invaluable letter he wrote to Imam Hasan (a) after the Battle of Siffin (Letter 31 of Nahj al-Balaghah). It is significant to note that the first and foremost instruction Imam Ali gives is of piety, “My son, I recommend you to God-wariness.” Clearly, Imam Ali (a) deems piety to be among the most important traits of any individual and makes it a priority in his son’s life. Regarding this letter, the famous Sunni scholar Abu Ahmad Hasan Ibn Abdullah Ibn Askari, the teacher of Shaykh Saduq, says, “If you can find a piece of practical philosophy which should be written in gold, it is this erudite treatise written by Imam Ali (a).” Of course, Imam Ali (a) is not only instructing Imam Hasan (a) and his other children, parents or rulers; in fact, he is outlining the duties of every individual, no matter what his or her situation in life. Imam Ali (a) explains that he wrote down his will before death overtook him and before his advice would not be heeded. “So I hastened to mould you properly before your heart hardened up and your mind became occupied, so you might be ready to accept through your intelligence the results of the experience of others and be saved from going through these experiences yourself.” Imam Ali (a) then states that he studied the people and events of the past so much so that it was as if he had walked among their ruins and lived among them. He advises his children to learn lessons from the experiences of those in the past. In this letter, Imam Ali (a) makes a very poignant statement which best describes the relationship he had with Hasan, “I found you a part of myself, rather I found you my whole, so much so that if anything befell you, it was as though it befell me.” Therefore, he wrote this letter of advice so that his son could always seek his father’s help, even when he was no longer alive. The cycle of training continued when Imam Hasan (a) gathered his children and those of his brother and said to them, “All of you are the children of today’s society and, it is hoped, the leaders of tomorrow’s society.” Kubra Rizvi is an Honours


Psychology graduate from Loyola University Chicago. She writes and lectures on various religious topics.

September 2017




‘Has the Pope made it too easy to become a Catholic saint?’ asks Frank Gelli.


t was said that Pope John Paul II of blessed memory was responsible for creating a ‘saint factory’, meaning that he created more official saints than all of the previous Pontiffs combined. Now Pope Francis stands suspected of throwing open the heavenly gates even further. In July he issued a ‘Motu Proprio’, an apostolic letter in which he establishes a new road to sainthood, namely, the free sacrificing of one’s life in love to others. ‘The selfless offering of life, suggested and sustained by charity, expresses a true, full and exemplary imitation of Christ”, he said. That may sound beautifully inclusive but…there are problems. In the early Christian centuries the martyrs were the first saints to be publicly venerated by the faithful. Later the practice was extended to Confessors and Virgins – those who had suffered for the faith but not necessarily died for it. Today the Catholic Church lays down


September 2017

certain rules for attaining ‘the glory of the altar’, or sainthood. The candidate, called a ‘Servant of God’, has to live a life of heroic virtue (not just being ‘a good chap’), have a reputation for holiness and, last but not least, one or more physical miracles must be attributed to his intercession. A rigorous and long Vatican investigation then checks on the candidates’ credentials. Note that St Pio da Pietralcina, a famous Franciscan friar who bore on his body the marks of the crucifixion of Christ, was at times suspected of being a fake until finally cleared by Pope Pius XII. On a lighter note, St Dominic of Guzman’s canonisation might have been blocked when it transpired that the Servant of God had once said that he preferred the company of young women to that of old ones. The new path launched by Francis states that the candidate’s virtues may not be heroic but ordinary. Of course,

most people are not heroes. Saints, however, are not quite ordinary. Holiness is by definition a special, extraordinary quality, one that sets people apart. In history, many men and women witnessed to their faith with their blood. Holy women like St Maria Goretti died to defend their chastity. Others endured agonising tests and trials in their fidelity to God. Ordinary folks they certainly were not. Moreover, what does ‘giving one’s life in charity for others mean?' Does it include firemen, soldiers, policemen and countless others who gave their lives to save other people? A lifeguard, for example, may drown while rescuing another person from drowning. A brave man, but…a saint? Also, there is a distinction between ‘dying for Christ’ and ‘dying as Christ did’ – selflessly, for others. The latter case might include all sorts of individuals. Scores of altruists who nonetheless may not be Christians at all or indeed be unbelievers. How could they be enlisted as Christian

saints? Perhaps seeking to parry such objections, the Pope’s Motu Proprio says that possible candidates must have practised ‘Christian values’ in their lives. Fine but some such values are not exclusive or limited to Christians alone. It is conceivable that a pregnant Jewish woman, for instance, might refuse a certain medical treatment in order to protect the life of her unborn child. That is a sacrifice countenanced by Catholic moral theology. You might call that an example of a Christian value. Would that, therefore, make her a Christian saint? Liberal-minded persons

may answer affirmatively but might it not be offensive to Jews to announce to them: ‘We consider you a Christian saint’? Not all Churches are as bureaucratic or formalistic as the Roman Church in matters of canonisation. Traditionally, Eastern Orthodox Churches have followed a more ‘laid back’ procedure. What was required above all was the existence of a definite veneration for the departed candidate by the local people. Then a number of bishops would hold a synod and, after an informal inquiry,

recognise the popular veneration as proof of the person’s holiness. Their decision would then be notified to the whole Church. The idea is that the Church only sanctions what the local Christians have already decided. Canonisation from the bottom up, so to speak. (Rome too, in rare cases, accepts popular devotion among the people as a basis for canonisation but the final decision rests with the Pope.) Still, there should be no moral doubt as to the candidate’s heroic faith. Thus, Thomas a Kempis, writer of the spiritual classic The Imitation of Christ, was never canonised. Why? When his grave was opened years later it was discovered that he had been buried by mistake while still alive. The ecclesiastical authorities could never be certain that when Thomas woke up in his coffin he would not have spent his last hours in the darkest despair. Of course, Francis will have his way, because the Pope has the authority to assert his will (like many liberals, Francis is known for a wilful and authoritarian streak.) Still, it is important to remember that the Church’s declaration of sainthood does not, strictly speaking, make anyone a saint. That prerogative is God’s alone. Only he can really create a saint. There must have been many very holy men and women who were never canonised because their cases never reached the Church’s attention, or indeed, because they were misrepresented or traduced. Only God knows them. Conversely, some official saints may, at the Last Judgment, turn out to have been less than holy. God indeed knows best. Revd Frank Julian Gelli is an


Anglican priest and cultural critic, working on religious dialogue. His last book ‘The Prophet and the Priest', is available on Amazon Kindle.

September 2017



Travel Guide to

Muslim Europe With travel writer and European Muslim heritage specialist Tharik Hussain

England’s little ‘Taj Mahal’


he little town of Woking in Surrey, England, sits just outside London’s motorway belt, the M25, surrounded by thick woodland with an idyllic canal running through it. It is a town noted neither for its beauty nor its cultural sway and is probably the last place anyone expects to find a monument that brings to mind one of the great wonders of the world. And yet the minute visitors lay eyes upon Woking’s tiny Shah Jahan Mosque, the Moghul architectural influence leads to inevitable comparisons with the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Not because the two are comparable, but because of the echoes; a large onion dome, Indian minarets, the arabesque archway and water feature, so out of context with the rest of this quiet English town, bring to mind the obvious. But this isn’t actually the reason Woking’s mosque is one of the most important to England and the wider English speaking world. Built in 1889 by Gotlieb Wilhelm Leitner, a talented linguist and educator of Hungarian Jewish origin, Woking Mosque is the very first purpose-built mosque in Britain and the whole of northern Europe. Leitner built the mosque as part of what was supposed to be an extensive Oriental complex, centred around the now demolished Oriental Institute formerly the Royal Dramatic College - for the institute’s Muslim students who needed somewhere to pray. “There is evidence to suggest the mosque was meant to be part of a group of oriental spaces of worship including a synagogue and a Hindu temple. A local historian recently told us that one of the


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early published guides to the region (Surrey) mentions the mosque and a temple, though nobody is sure whether this was in the guide because they knew of a temple actually being here, or simply because they knew it was being planned,” explains Muhammad Habib, the mosque manager who leads most of the regular tours and heritage events. “The mosque went on to become home to some of the most famous early British Muslims including Lord Headley, Abdullah Quilliam, the founder of Britain’s first mosque in Liverpool and the Qur’an translators, Marmaduke Pickthall and Yusuf Ali.” Some sources say Pickthall, a classmate and friend of Britain’s wartime Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, may have even been an imam here. His translation, published in 1930 was authorised by Egypt’s Al-Azhar institute after Pickthall pointed out the potential for da‘wah across the English-speaking world. Pickthall is buried in the nearby Brookwood Cemetery. Unlike Britain’s first mosque, established by Quilliam in 1887 - a repurposed Victorian terraced house on Liverpool’s West Derby Street - Woking Mosque was designed by W. I. Chambers to look and function as a mosque, and may have even been modelled on the Taj Mahal. The mosque takes its name from its main benefactor, the Begum Shah Jahan of Bhopal, with whom Leitner had a close association following his time teaching in India, where he also founded the University of Punjab. The mosque was only in use for a brief period before falling into disrepair after his death in 1899. In 1912 it was rescued

from demolition by Kashmiri lawyer, Khawaja Kamal-Ud-Din, who reopened it as a mosque the following year and founded the Woking Muslim Mission. This saw Shah Jahan’s influence grow as it slowly became the centre of British Muslim activity. It was from Woking that the push was made for a mosque to be built in central London, and according to some sources, where the name for Pakistan (derived from the term ‘pakeesgi’ to mean purity) was first proposed for the Muslim country yet to be carved out of India. Fittingly, these days the mosque is under the stewardship of the Pakistan High Commission, and is run by the descendants of migrants from Pakistan who settled in the vicinity from the 1960s onwards.


Where in the world: The mosque is on Oriental Road in

the town of Woking, Surrey, just south west of England’s capital London. In and out: The easiest way to get to the mosque is via train to Woking Station from where it is a 15-minute walk to the mosque. Top tips: Book a free guided tour with the mosque manager and you will not only get a historical tour of the mosque but also a visit to the nearby cemetery and memorial gardens where many of the illustrious members of the early community reside.

Tharik Hussain spends much of his time travelling across Europe in search of the continent's fourteen centuries of Muslim history. You can follow his work at"

September 2017


Children Corner

Summer Camp

Dear Children, Assalam Alaikum


ave you had a joyful summer? What activities did you take up? Did you go outside to nature?

We hope you had a lovely summer and now are ready to go back to school. During the summer holiday, some children go to the summer camps. There are a number of Muslim Scout groups who arrange outing trips in some parks special for camping. In these camps, children get to do all sorts of interesting things besides playing all many games. Children are thought to be adventurous, how to put up a tent, fish or even make a fire. There are many such organisations with whom you can enjoy such activities. If you have not gone


September 2017

to one of these camps yet, look out for them and see when their next outside activity is. Besides the fun things, children learn how to be responsible towards nature too. It is all good to enjoy the nature, but we have to look after it too. For example making a fire to cook the fish you just fished out of the river, or boil the kettle for a nice cup of tea, is not without its dangers. That is why you need a proper instructor or an adult supervision. Ghazaleh Kamrani our illustrator has demonstrated one of these camps. She has left some differences between images 1 and 2 for you to find. Afterwards, you can look at image 3 to check if you have identified all of them. Enjoy!


- Have you fo five differen und all the ce s ? - Can you n a activities in me all the this image? - What else c have done? ould children - Which gam have liked to e would you play?

Illustrator Ghazaleh Kamrani

September 2017


What & Where Through August

Tafseer of the Holy Qur'an Conducted by: Shaykh M S Bahmanpour Venue: Islamic Centre of England, 140

Maida Vale, London W9 1QB Time: Every Friday starting at 7.30 PM Contact: 0207 604 5500 6 September

Card Making Workshop

Get creative and make your own greeting cards at this informal card-making workshop. Blank cards, envelopes, textured and coloured paper are provided, as well as Arabic words written on the spot by calligraphy tutor Joumana Medlej. Cut, assemble and paste to make your own highly personal cards for any occasion. Venue: The

Arab British Centre, 1 Gough Square, EC4A 3DE Time: 5.30 PM - 8.30 PM* Fee: £15 * You can come and leave at any time within the duration of the event however booking is essential. 7 - 1 3 September

Atlas Mountains Trek 201 7

Join us and trek the highest summit in North Africa to raise funds for displaced families in Iraq. Travel through villages and meet the locals on your way up. Take in the stunning views of the Atlas Mountains. Also, spend one day sightseeing in the city of Marrakech. Human Relief Foundation - 2 Claremont, Bradford BD7 1BQ, UK Fee: £300 Target: £1500 More info: Venue:

9 September

Tour de Salah @ London

Now in its fourth year Tour de Salah, the biggest organised Muslim bike ride in the UK, is a unique physical and spiritual challenge like no other! Cycle across the capital stopping at iconic mosques and enjoy the wonderful scenery along the way. - Choose from four routes covering 15km, 30km, 60km or a whole 100km - Pick a charity partner or fundraise for a charity of your own choice


September 2017

- Group rides for all abilities - Female-only groups also available

1 4 September

Venue: Palmers

The Circulation of Contemporary Iranian Literature

1 1 - 1 5 September

A roundtable discussion with Houshang Moradi Kermani (writer), Ahmad Dehghan (writer), Afshin Shahneh Tabar (publisher of Candle & Fog) and the American translators Caroline Croskery and Paul Sprachman.

Green Mosque, 30 Oakthorpe Rd, London N13 5JL, UK Registration: £30 More info:

European Muslim Network Summer School (Germany)

The EMN Research Academy brings together a multi-disciplinary and international group of 40 to 50 students, researchers and members of civil society. It offers the participants the opportunity to study and discuss questions pertaining to Islam and Muslim life in general and Islam and Muslim Life in Europe, in particular, encompassing culture, politics and issues of identity in the European context with distinguished experts in this field from academia and the grassroots level. These topics will be dealt with in a historical as well as a systematic perspective focusing on the vision of the future of Islam and Muslims in Europe’s fabric. Venue: Airport Hotel Global, Germany Time: All Day Fee: 850 Euros (including meals and multi-

bed accommodation) More info: activity_details/3593 1 4, 21 , 28 September & 5 October

History of Carpets from the Islamic World

This course will be fully dedicated to the history of carpet production in the Islamic world. Through the analysis of the most iconic carpets held in famous museums and collections in Europe and abroad, you will become familiar with threads, materials, patterns and trends as well as with patrons and places of manufacture. The history of the carpet trade from the Islamic world to Europe, mainly Italy, and an excursus in the history of carpets’ representation on the paintings of the most celebrated Renaissance artists, will complete the course. Venue: The

Arab British Centre, 1 Gough Square, EC4A 3DE Time : 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM Fee: £130 More info: http://www.arabbritishcentre.

Laetitia Nanquette (University of New South Wales, Sydney) Organiser: Centre for Iranian Studies Venue: Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Paul Webley Wing (Senate House), SOAS Time: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM Contact email: or 020 7898 4330 Moderator:

1 5 September

Monuments of Faith and Power: Yemen’s Religious Architecture

With the advent of Islam, Yemen became an important centre of Islamic learning and architecture. Since the 7th century, succeeding dynasties constructed mosques, madrasas (educational institutions) and mausoleums whose architecture drew on the country’s ancient heritage and on new elements which reveal the impact of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean trade as well as ties with regional powers such as Egypt and India. This lecture will examine the style and iconography of Yemen’s religious architecture in order to show the diversity of designs, techniques and materials that reflect the country’s diverse geography and its rich history. Moreover, it will show the distinctive elements that render this architecture unique in the Islamic World. A lecture by Noha Sadek, Independent Scholar, Paris. SOAS,Russell Square: College Buildings, Khalili Lecture Theatre Time: 6:00 PM -7:00 PM Venue:

20 September

Living histories: works on paper by contemporary Arab artists

A 45 minutes gallery talk by Venetia Porter, British Museum. Suitable for all levels of knowledge. Venue: Room

34, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG Time: 1.15 PM - 2.00 PM Fee: Free, drop in.

21 - 22 September

Archives, Activism and Social Media

A two-day workshop organised by Cambridge Digital Humanities Network in collaboration with Documenting the Now project. This event will create a space for conversations between activists, archivists and researchers with the aim of building communities of practice around ethical and technical challenges in archiving borndigital social movement data, creating awareness of how to use specific methodologies, tools and services for producing and using archives of born digital activist material, and fostering crosscultural dialogue by bringing activists from different regions of the world together for in person conversation and network building. Faculty of English, Sidgwick Site, Centre For Research Cambridge, CB3 9DT Time: 3.00 PM on the 21st - 5.00 PM on the 22nd Venue:

Info on how to register: 21 - 23 September

Conflict Café Syria

Conflict Café Syria, the pop-up restaurant that serves peace through food is back with a three-course Syrian sharing feast. Diners will enjoy no less than 9 dishes from chefs from Syrian restaurant Ayam Zaman that specialises in the cuisine of the Damascus region of Syria. Guests are seated at communal tables in the spectacular underground tunnels located beneath Waterloo station and will experience Syrian hospitality, hear from experts on peace-building efforts in Syria and within the countries affected by the war, make new friends, and even win prizes in a quiz. Organiser: International Alert (peacebuilding NGO) Venue: House of Vans London, Arches, 228-232

Station Approach Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8SW Time: 7.00 PM - 10.00 PM each day Fee: £40 More info: http://www.arabbritishcentre. 23 September

Arabic and arabesques: themes in Islamic art

A 45-minute gallery talk by Vesta Curtis, British Museum. Suitable for all levels of knowledge. Venue:

Room 52, British Museum, Great

Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG Time: 1.15 PM - 2.00 PM Fee: Free, drop in. 25 September – 27 November

Persian Calligraphy, Nasta'liq Script

Packs campaign which provides winter aid to refugee families. Venue: 7 Davenant Street, Fee: £20 Target: £200 More info:

London, E1 5NB

By Keramat Fathinia

This ten-week course is suitable for all levels. Although, previous knowledge of the Persian language is not necessary for beginners, familiarity with the alphabet is an advantage. This is an exercise-based course on the writing techniques of the Nasta'liq script which is constantly engaged with Persian language and literature. You will also learn about the theory and history of Islamic calligraphy. The course will start with a general introduction to most Islamic calligraphy styles and traditional tools and materials. The letters' shapes as the basic elements in calligraphy will be explored in detail through the course and advanced compositions and juxtaposition of forms will be covered at elementary and upper levels. Organiser: London Middle East Institute Venue: MBI Al Jaber Building, 21 Russell

Square Time: Every Monday 6:30-8:30 PM Fees: £250 To register visit the SOAS Online Store. There will be a small additional charge of between £10 and £20 for materials and tools. Contact email: or 020 7898 4330/4490 29 - 30 September

All Our Tomorrows

Leeds DEC and MEND (Muslim Engagement & Development) invite you to the first ever full day teachers’ conference in Yorkshire on how to equip you to tackle Islamophobia in your school. All participants will receive a ‘Challenging Islamophobia’ school materials pack. Venue : Civic Hall, Fee: £65 - £85 Register at:

Calverley St, Leeds LS1 More info: / or 07454920798 30 September

Enchanted Waterfall Trek

Our Enchanted Waterfall Trek is designed to help raise funds for our Winter Warmer

30 September & 1 October

The Ultimate Reminder

This course is a study of the Qur’an through the major events in the life of the Prophet(s). The aim is to appreciate how God – through the Qur’an – supported, strengthened, consoled, uplifted and reminded the Prophet(s) as he went about the monumental task of conveying the message of Islam. Venues:

30th Sept - the University of Salford, The University of Salford, Salford M5 4WT 1st Oct - The Bordesley Centre, Muath Trust, Stratford Rd, Birmingham, B11 1AR Time: 8.30 AM - 7.00 PM Fee: £35 More info: 31 October - 2 November

World Halal Expo 201 7

Showcasing a convergence of an ethical lifestyle with 'Halalonomics', the World Halal Expo is a two-day International Halal Trade & Tourism exhibition for the Global Halal industry to meet the key players of UK Halal market, providing a comprehensive business platform to connect the trade & industry with the multi trillion-dollar global halal market. The event is a high impact business platform to look at the lucrative business opportunities that the global halal market presence offers and cater to the needs of the halal producers, traders and business leaders looking to expand their business globally. Olympia, Hammersmith Rd, London W14 8UX Venue:

More info: Disclaimer: islam today does not necessarly endorse or recommend any of these events. Their contents and individuals or groups involved in them. We are not responsible for changes to times, fees or venues. Further information should be sought direclty from the organisers.

September 2017


islam today issue 51 - September 2017  
islam today issue 51 - September 2017