issue 57 vol. 6 March 2018
Nowrooz Mubarak REPORT
THE DANGER OF SOCIALISING THE RELIGION FAITH
THE SERMON OF FADAK TRAVEL
ST MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS
issue 57vol. 6 March 2018 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.
Jerusalem, History, Theology and International Law
‘Visit My Mosque Day’
Mumma Knows Nothing
The danger of socialising the religion
The Sermon of Fadak
St Mary, the mother of Jesus
Looking through one’s eyes iridology
Romania’s forgotten royal mosque
The Creation - Small creatures
List of Events
Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour Amir De Martino Anousheh Mireskandari Layout and Design
Contact us Information Article Submissions www.islam-today.co.uk Follow us on:
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.
Academic Conference on Al-Quds on the 39th Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution
The Islamic Centre of England
by Batool Haydar
In The Spotlight Looking forward In Pictures The Place to Be Heritage by Moriam Grillo
by Abbas Di Palma
by Kubra Rizvi
by Revd Frank Julian Gelli
by Tahir Ali
Travel Guide to Muslim Europe by Tharik Hussain
Children Corner by Ghazaleh Kamrani
What & Where
Jerusalem, History, Theology and International Law Academic Conference on Al-Quds on the 39th Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution
â€˜Jerusalem belongs to all three Abrahamic religions and must be free and open to all of themâ€™
peakers in the academic conference of Jerusalem (al-Quds) History, Theology and International Law which was held in the Islamic Centre of England in London expressed their views about the holy city from historical, theological and legal angles. In his remarks which were delivered via a video link, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Manuel Hassassian, talked about the importance of Jerusalem for all three Abrahamic religions. He opposed what he called the monopoly of one of these religions over the holy city. He called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to open Jerusalem to all believers and put an end to Israeli injustice. He thanked Iranians for their constant support of Palestine and thanked the Islamic Centre for holding this conference. He said that as a Christian he always admired Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance.
Dr Nehad Khenfar, an academic and lecturer in International law, looked at the issue from a legal point of view. He explained the resolutions passed by the Security Council of the UN about the rights of the Palestinian to the city. He argued that based on those resolutions, all legislation passed by the Israeli authorities about Jerusalem are null and illegal. This is because under international law only the inhabitants of Jerusalem have sovereignty over the city, not Israel nor Jordan nor any other state, he explained. He also mentioned the 1998 Rome Statute of International Criminal Law which prohibits the occupier force from moving its population to the occupied territory, which is something that Israel has been doing for many years by building Jewish settlements. Dr Khenfar said that Palestinians now living in countries that have signed and ratified
the Rome Statute into their internal legal systems can and should take legal action against Israeli authorities, politicians, military personnel and anybody who ever had a role in forcing out Palestinians from their homes. He then talked about the ‘conditional’ membership of Israel in the UN and said Israel has violated those conditions and therefore according to the General Assembly’s resolutions, it is not a legitimate state anymore. In concluding Dr Khenfar reiterated that all Israelis who have taken part in changing the status of Jerusalem can be sued under the laws of the International Criminal Court. Later during the conference, Syed Ali Raza Rizvi, the President of Majlis Ulama Shi‘a in Europe underlined the Islamic Revolution’s global and transnational appeal for justice and its support for all the oppressed people around the world, including Palestinians. Dr Jon Hoover, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Nottingham, gave a brief lecture on the history of
Jerusalem. He said that the ‘Children of Israel’ captured the city around 1000 BC when ‘King David’ conquered the city and his son, ‘King Solomon’ built the first temple. In 578 Babylonians destroyed the city and enslaved its people. He then described the Jews’ return to the city and rebuilding the temple between 520 and 515 BC, which is known as the ‘second temple’. In 70 CE Romans destroyed the city. Dr Hoover said that for those who have read the New Testament it is interesting how accurately and in details Jesus predicted Jerusalem’s destruction. Dr Hoover said that Emperor Hadrian built another city on its ruins and banned Jews from entering the city which survived for 700 years. In fact, Jews were allowed to enter the city after Muslims took over in 638 AD. In 692 Muslims built the Dome of Rock. Then he explained why Abd al-Malik built the dome. He then continued by describing the fall of the city to Crusaders in 1099 and Salah al-Din recapturing it in 1187 CE. From 1250 to 1517 Mamluks ruled the city and from 1517 to 1917 it was under
Ottoman rule. In 1917 during the First World War, the British Army captured Jerusalem. Between 1917 and 1948 it fell under the British mandate, and between 1948 and 1967 it was divided between Israel and Jordan. Dr Ghada Karmi also talked about Jerusalem from a historical perspective but from her personal experience as a native of Jerusalem. It was not an important city during the Ottoman time apart from being a pilgrimage destination, but in the 19th century when Europeans opened their consulates in Jerusalem and sent their Christian missionaries to convert the locals, the Ottomans began to take notice. She said that it is very difficult to estimate the correct number of Muslims, Christians and Jews in the city firstly because of unclear boundaries and secondly because of the Israeli policy that tends to show Jews are in a majority. She said that in 1928 when Jews began their migration to the holy city, the population of Muslims was about 7000, Christians 5000 and Jews 9000. She said that the number of Jews increased dramatically. This was not by birth but by immigration. As a result March 2018
in 1944, there were 97000 Jews and 30000 Muslims. The numbers in 2015, if we believe the Israeli numbers she said, are 525,000 Jews, 300,000 Muslims and only 12,000 Christians. It is interesting that the number of Christians is even lower than it was in 1931. She then talked about her personal experience as a child in Jerusalem. She described the character of the city as Muslim/Christian and said that relations between the two were based on mutual respect. She said that Muslims would go to Christian festivals while Christians would come to Muslim festivals and they would send each other gifts on each group’s religious occasions. She regretted that the city of her childhood does not exist anymore, ‘ethnic cleansing’ having changed the city’s character. The Reverend Nadim Nassar said that Jerusalem is important for all of us as believers. He expressed regret that no Western Church cares about the plight of Christians living in Jerusalem and their decreasing number. He then talked about the significance of the city from a Christian theological perspective saying it was a shame that we did not have a Jewish rabbi to talk about the theological importance of Jerusalem from a Judaic point of view. He continued, however, by saying that Jesus entered the city when people were expecting a saviour to emerge and become their king. But as he explained, Jesus said that his kingdom is not from this world. He said that when the Lord chose to become ‘one of us’, He chose Jerusalem as His city. Therefore in his view, Jerusalem is the capital city of spirituality. He said that in order to understand Jerusalem it is crucial to understand three cultures. Most people do not know that Christianity began from the Middle East and there are native Christians all over the region. Secondly, he said, we should understand the cultural diversion of the city in the last 50 years. Thirdly and lastly he said, we should understand the culture of God and His decision to choose Jerusalem as His city. The final speaker of this conference was Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali, the director of the Islamic Centre. He began by explaining the global impact of the Islamic Revolution at a time when everyone thought that the age of religions was over. The revolution, he believed, proved that humanity can still live based on religious values. Faith gives courage to the oppressed and a purpose in their lives. He then talked about Imam Khomeini’s care for the oppressed whether they were Iranians or not. He said
that from the very beginning the Imam was opposed to both apartheid and occupation. One of the first foreign policy decisions after the revolution was to cut political and economic relations with South Africa, then under apartheid. In Palestine Shaikh Shomali said there is both apartheid and occupation, and therefore Imam Khomeini did not hesitate to support the Palestinian people. Dr Shomali then talked about the theological aspects of Jerusalem in Islam and in the Qur’an. First, he mentioned that for all the first 13 years of Islam in
Makkah, the Qibla was Jerusalem and the Prophet Muhammad(s) and his companions prayed towards that direction. Only in Madina and after some time, following a revelation from God, did the direction of the Qibla change to Makkah. The second importance of Jerusalem from the Qur’an’s point of view was the Prophet’s ascension to heaven from al-Aqsa Mosque. He talked about the significance of this journey and theological views on why the Prophet was taken on the Me‘raj (Ascension) from Jerusalem and not directly from Makkah. He said that one view would be that Jerusalem and its surroundings, is blessed according to the Qur’an, and this blessing was so significant that the Prophet was to ascend from that place to heaven. He also narrated sayings by Imam Ali(a) about the importance of al-Aqsa mosque as one of the four gardens of Paradise on earth, next to Masjid al-Haram, Masjid al-Nabi and Masjid alKufa. Dr Shomali said that today, unfortunately, not only the inhabitants of the city but the holy city itself has been taken as hostage. He then prayed and wished for the return of Jerusalem to all believers as a holy city, not a political city. l
‘Visit My Mosque Day’
‘Visit My Mosque Day’ is getting bigger and the Islamic Centre of England is a part of the trend
isit My Mosque is a programme in which mosques and Islamic centres open their doors to the wider non-Muslim community in order to fill the gap of unfamiliarity that some non-Muslims have about Islam and which could be exploited to promote Islamophobia. As a first attempt the activity, at the Islamic Centre, was a success. The programme took place in the main hall. The highlight was an art exhibition of the works of Sister Siddiqua Juma which said much about female participation and creativity and went down well with the visitors both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Organisations with stalls at the event
included: ‘Who is Hussain?’, ‘Arise’ (an organisation that caters for the needs of converts), ‘The Imam Hussain Blood Donation Campaign’ and a group encouraging bone marrow donation. The activities were largely informal giving the attendees maximum opportunity to mingle and ask questions from Muslims or Shi‘a clerics who were present. Some non-Muslim guests said that they were curious about the Islamic Centre and that they had always wanted to visit and this programme made it easier for them to do so. Overall the programme was a success, the only disappointing element being that all the local authorities invited
such as the local mayor, fire services and others did not show up. It might have been possible that they were overstretched since more ‘Visit My Mosque’ events were taking place in other mosques on the same day. Nevertheless, the day showed us that more has to be done to increase our outreach and foster closer relationships with our non-Muslim neighbours. In this respect Visit My Mosque has been both; a catalyst for such activities and a method for finding social harmony.l
Life & Community
Mumma Knows Nothing Batool Haydar on the start of the power-struggle journey in parenting and its positive aftermath
t’s official. I have a rebellious, independent-minded child. This is an unexpected turn of events for me. It’s not that I had expectations of a mild, obedient toddler who played by herself and cleaned up her toys after her. (Really, I didn’t.) However, all signs in the past three years pointed to a little girl who would grow up with a love for listening to stories and doing what Mummy did. My daughter was a quiet baby. She rarely laughed out loud or giggled. In fact, the way she calmly observed our antics and attempts to crack a toothy smile out of her was unnerving. When she did start speaking just before she turned one, it was to point and name pictures in her baby books. From there, the conversations seemed to flow naturally and we indulged in wonderful ‘chats’ over almost everything from what our breakfast plate held to where her nappies went when the garbage truck passed by especially to pick them up. Life was good. A couple of months ago, however, she suddenly regressed to baby-talk, whining and speaking in broken sentences with a squeaky voice, all with one goal in mind: to refute every single suggestion I put to her. She didn’t just say ‘no!’, she created an array of negatives and refusals to pick from. It’s just a phase,
I told myself (and anyone else who was around to witness her tantrums) and I have been repeating that to myself in the hope that acknowledging that will make it pass faster. It’s not really the baby-ness that is getting to me. She might be trying out behaviour that she never indulged in before. We all do that sometimes, right? The thing that does worry me is her rebellion against everything I try to share with her. Where Mummy was once the Source of all Answers, Mummy is now the Source of All Things To Be Rejected. I used to be delighted by how she would come and pray next to me, or repeat verses of the Qur’an after me, inevitably mispronouncing certain words as her tongue explored new sounds. Now she not only refuses to do these things with me, but defiantly states that she does not want to pray or recite anything. The first time she said this, I felt the entire world stop and all of creation pause to glare disapprovingly at me. What had I done to create such a resistance to all that was Holy and Divine in my child? How had I failed so badly as a parent? In the days and weeks that followed, I waited for the phase to pass and kept asking her - probably a dozen times a day whether she wanted to repeat after Mummy or join Mummy
to pray this time? Please? Why not? Pretty please? It was when I was almost tempted to bribe her that I paused to ask myself why I so badly needed a not-yet-three year old to pray with the repeated dedication that I - an adult with a lifetime of prayers behind me - still failed to observe as perfectly as I should. This little child has a world in front of her to discover. Every day brings her something new to see, to touch, to feel, to experience. And perhaps, at this moment in time, her latest discovery is the heady feeling that the power to refuse brings with it. The understanding that she can say ‘no’ and doesn’t have to do everything she is told to. Perhaps, she is just discovering that greatest gift that God has granted us as humans: Free Will. It is hard as a parent to accept that when other children her age are parroting rhymes and nasheeds, she is more concerned about how birds eat without hands and if the sun is sad when it says goodbye in the evening. While I watch other toddlers being praised for having learnt short chapters of the Qur’an or daily supplications by heart, she is insistent she will recite her own gibberish versions of everything, creating new names for chapters and insisting on mixing up verses of two or more. Actually, it’s not hard as a parent; it’s hard on a parent’s ego. It has taken talking to mothers more experienced and wiser than I am to start accepting that while my daughter might not be keen to gain academic knowledge just yet, she is more than willing to try and figure out the emotional complexities of the human heart. She wants to nurture
others, to seek out ways to bring a smile to their faces and she is ever aware of the slightest change in mood around her. In her defiance, she makes blasphemous statements that make me wince when I hear them, but at the same time, she is constantly aware of her own behaviour and will not only make amends, but come back and ask if you ‘are happy now?’ to confirm the success of her attempts to appease you. Was this not what the Prophet(s) meant when he said that we should sit with children and learn from them? What can be more important that simply caring? This is what we complain the world lacks sorely and yet, we want to distract our children from learning to passionately do this by presenting them with an array of ‘data’ for them to absorb instead. I am learning from a toddler that it’s cute if she knows the difference between turquoise and navy, but it is infinitely more important if she learns to give her friend the blue cup even though she wants to keep it, because her friend likes that colour. If her intelligence is obvious, I may be able to raise my head with a false sense of pride, but it is only at her small, simple displays of empathy that I can lower my head in prostration and thank God for instilling this quality in her. I have a rebellious child. But as long as her rebellion is only against words and numbers, against conforming to routine and monotony, then she is safe. Understanding God requires a softness of heart, a pliability of soul and a questioning mind. These things, I believe, He gives to all healthy children in abundance. As long as we, as parents, can preserve these qualities and not allow them to be lost or overshadowed by the information the world tells us they must know, then God will be their Guide towards Himself. Thus, the more rebellious my daughter is, the more stable I have to become in order to be able to provide an anchor for her. As she has done from the day she was born, she serves as mirror to my own flaws and a motivator for that constant struggle to improve that is the purpose of life. l
pring is in the air. Or so they say. At a time when we can easily experience a range of seasons in one day, it’s easy to remain sceptical about the prospect of consistently good weather. That said, it’s the time of year when social activities spring to life after a slow, almost dormant winter. And almost as if to mirror the appearance of flora and fauna, this is the time of year when the art world has its biggest outing. The Venice Biennale in Italy, in Dubai, the Berlin and the Liverpool Biennial are just a few which offer a showcase for international artists.
of Italy, Hassan’s first bout of creative expression was as a graffiti artist leaving his mark on the walls in his local city. A keen amateur boxer, Hassan was forced to hang up his gloves after being diagnosed with diabetes. This didn’t stop him from boxing; instead, it forced him to be more creative. You may have guessed by now that Hassan’s artwork
n The Spotlight
“Art is a never-ending search; an assimilation of past experiences combined with new experiences, in the form, the content, the material, the technique, the means.” - Bruno Munari, artist
If you are looking for ingenuity and innovation look no further. Contemporary art has been known to push the boundaries of perceptions but this is usually conveyed through materials used as opposed to techniques. Omar Hassan had not allowed this to deter him; he has boldly gone where only one other man to my recollection has gone before. A native
a way of asserting the dignity of Islamic art, which draws its origins from the aniconic mentality of nomadic desert tribes, the first to receive the message of the Prophet. In fact, it is not by chance that in previous works the artist pieced together a dialogue between abstract and calligraphic forms.” - Ivan Quaroni, the curator. Hassan was invited to exhibit his work at the Venice Biennale 2011.
is influenced by his past experiences. Like most artists, his life informs his work. The difference with Hassan is his use of tools to create his artistic compositions, his boxing gloves. His most popular series of work is entitled ‘Breaking Through’ paintings and involves Hassan dipping his boxing gloves into an array of colourful paints before punching onto large white canvases, in a very physical display of strength, anger and cathartic energy. Through this ‘performance’, he celebrates the concept of boxing and introduces a new pictorial gesture that is both spontaneous and impactful. As is his other form of mark making, that of a multitude of sprayed dots that allude to the pixelated expression of moments. “I also sense in Omar Hassan’s gesture
The Sikka Art Fair is an initiative by Dubai Culture to showcase the work of artists resident in the United Arab Emirates and six other countries known as the Gulf Cooperation Council. The event presents the work of 45 artists chosen from over 200 applicants. Among the creatives are Bayo Hassan Bello, a Nigerian entrepreneur and co-founder of the Ajala project, an initiative which uses the Arts to raise awareness of social causes, Fatma Almohsen, a fine
eritage So long a letter Mariama Bah
artist who uses a mixture of traditional and contemporary materials in her abstract paintings and documentary photographer Reem Saeed who followed in her father’s footsteps- recording the passage of time for posterity - through her artistic endeavour in photography. Mark making is the principle expression of fine artist Eman Al Hashemi working with print on a range of materials including ceramics, glass and paper. Representing a fraction of the talent in the region they are a reflection of the diverse creative approaches on display during the event. Sikka may be positioned in the old city of Dubai but the work on show will represent high quality, innovative artworks and installations including sound and digital media.
Written forty years ago, the debut novel of Senegalese author Mariama Bah touches on many pertinent issues in society today. The treatment of women, feminism and decolonisation. Described as a semi-auto and epistolary novel ‘So Long A letter’ charts the journey of a woman challenged by life changes that are personal, relational and societal. The story is told in the format of a letter from the main character, Ramatoulaye, to her best friend, Aissatou. The novel gave voice to marginalised narratives and was met with positive responses as well as international acclaim. A perfect read to commemorate International Women’s Day. l
n Pictures Photography Ahqib Hussain
Ahqib Hussain is a photographer based in Luton whose photographs convey positive images of the town and its people in order to counter opposing perceptions often seen in the national press. A selection of his portraits can be found on his Facebook page entitled Lutonians.
he Place to Be SIKKA Art Fair Al Fahidi Historical District Dubai 17-26 March 2018
The Sikka Art Fair is a small part of the citywide Dubai Art Season which runs throughout March and April. There are hundreds of initiatives including the Middle East Film & Comic Convention. The season culminates with Dubai’s International Arabic Calligraphy Exhibition. For more details visit: www.dubaiculture.gov.ae
Moriam Grillo is an international award-winning artist. She holds Batchelor degrees in Photography & Film and Ceramics. She is also the founder of the Butterfly Project.
The danger of socialising the religion Continuing on exploring the topic of spirituality, Abbas Di Palma argues that sentimentalism and subjectivity can only work if it is driven by Love of God
eligion is a spiritual attitude and a way of life adorned by voluntary surrender, faith and piety. Social life also is part of human life and therefore religion endorses it as an important aspect of human nature. It would be incorrect to think that religion exclusively promotes unworldly issues and detachment from worldly affairs. This has been contrary to the view of all Abrahamic faiths while being much closer to the position of gnostic movements in the early Christian era or to some unorthodox Sufis. However, in some cases the opposite extreme prevailed with little or no concern over spirituality, focusing on the corruption of wealthy religious or political establishments vis-à-vis a
socially-committed class ready to fight for justice and its affirmation in society. If this is the case, it follows that prophets and saints would be no more than mere revolutionaries or social reformers. Such situations are at times particularly visible in certain modern religious gatherings and celebrations where the spiritual call can barely be felt, where a celestial profound experience has been reduced to a very subjective sentimentalism leaving no space for the human will to push the intellect, with the help of divine grace, towards objective and universal truths. Sentimentalism often destroys reason and makes the person more similar to an animal rather than an intellectual or a moral being. Sentimentalism also
easily ends in abstract ecumenism as the focus would be to subjectively ‘feel’ something having a spiritual flavour rather than realise an objective truth. The difference is when sentiments are driven by God’s love expressed along the path of faith. In such cases, we cannot talk of sentimentalism but of religious inclination or even divine zeal. The love for the Prophet and the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt falls also into this category. Nowadays man is intrinsically changed not by a natural process of education and cultural advancement but due to mass-mediatic agendas, music and multifaceted fashions devoid of real significance. So the virtues established by faith and divine love have been
replaced by ‘personal experiences’ whose minimum common denominator is often a desire for a system arranged from ‘below’ rather than from God the Most-High. The primacy of action over faith, that does not emphasise other-worldly affairs but limits itself to introduce a fair praxis running the social aspects of life have been in many cases the cause for uprooting the spirit from those outward religious traditions that today put so much effort into fitting into a modern setting. By doing so, the religion switches its transcendent nature to become an anthropocentric and immanent ideology with no reality in higher abodes. It is here that man who makes himself the centre of attention and the pivot of any consideration; has no regard for the origin, the inner truths and the scope of his existence. He replaces the dominion of divine authority with personal opinions and arbitrary wishes so that nothing or very little would be left of his natural God-inclined state. Therefore, social justice and reforms are not to be kept aloof from a pious religious life. History also teaches us that our prophets and imams addressed their people to change and mould positively the society they lived in. Their
call, however, was not independent of the Divine Will, neither did they accept the illnesses of their societies with the hope of having a louder voice amongst the masses. A Quranic verse says that “God is light” (25:35). Is there anything better than light in order to be seen? In fact, God was enough for them: their speeches, actions, and even their looks and walks, and always brought the witness for the purity of their messages. Also, if something is pure and clean, usually it can be seen with great ease in a dirty and polluted environment; this confirms the fact that there is no need ‘to be like those unguided ones that you are trying to guide’ or to be subject to their whims. Many people today are dissatisfied with the world and they are discouraged while seeing the current situation of crisis for which they are not responsible. Unfortunately, they do not seek in themselves the causes of such disorder, but they link them to other factors like God, the world or a failed system. As they don’t try to rectify themselves, they think it is their duty to change the world while forgetting themselves. In Muslim theology, the role of khalifatullah (God’s Viceroy) is fundamental to link the people of the earth to what is above them. As a divine
viceroy, he represents God’s will with his established appointed position while his human nature makes him fulfil the needs of humankind by God’s command. In this way, all the layers of the cosmos are in perfect order according to the Divine Will, from physics to metaphysics. Social problems are not to be faced detached from divine participation and they should not be used for promoting empty religious affiliations. Indeed religion should pave the way to live a pure and spiritual life and that is why its role to lead the masses from this world to the next should not be underestimated. In this light social welfare and political activism gain significance only in relation to a particular intention followed by the act of bringing people “from darkness to light” (2:257) towards the abode of eternal values. Making this world a better place would be certainly legitimate and praiseworthy but only as an accident, a temporal consequence, not an ultimate goal: “…and to God is the final destination” (3:28).l 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.
T he S ermon of F adak Kubra Rizvi suggests moulding our lives based on the teachings of Lady Fatima(s)
his month we celebrate the auspicious birth of Lady Fatima(a), the daughter of Prophet Muhammad(s). Lady Fatima is a paragon of an ideal daughter, wife, and mother. She is also an epitome of a leader, a teacher, a servant of God, and a defender of Imamate. She is Laylat al-Qadr, the Night of Power, she is Kawthar, the Fountain in Paradise, she is the one with whose pleasure God is pleased and with whose displeasure He is displeased, she is the one who was tested (Mumtahana) before her creation. It is no surprise then that her famous sermon is an exemplar of eloquence and wisdom. However, it is unfortunate that Muslims, even those who proclaim to love her, reduce the Sermon of Fadak as a speech given to reclaim inheritance. On the contrary, it is actually the most comprehensive and best reminder on the message of Islam and its principles that the Muslims have ever received after the Prophet(s). For this reason, the most esteemed scholars advised their children to study the sermon and derive lessons from it. We do injustice by not striving to comprehend her efforts, her sermon, her goals, and her status. Consequently, we belittle the sermon itself by reducing it to a monologue regarding inheritance and Fadak a piece of land. Although it is true that during the Prophet’s life the Quranic verse was revealed to grant her Fadak, the daughter of the noble lady who sacrificed all her wealth for Islam was not
requesting a piece of land. Fadak is a symbol of Imamate, and understanding Fadak is a gate to understanding Fatima. There are a few practical lessons we can strive to implement from the section regarding the philosophy behind divine ordinances. First and foremost, one should realise that all the bounties of this world are from God, without our even asking Him. It is for this reason that God deserves praise. He did not create us out of any need, but to establish His wisdom and might. Then, along with illuminating our lives with the love of the Prophet(s) and the Ahlul Bayt(a), we should stay attached to the Qur’an. We should seek its guidance when making decisions in our lives, as acting upon the Qur’an leads to salvation. “Faith has been set so as to cleanse you of polytheism; prayer is prescribed to keep you away from pride; charity has been prescribed to purify one’s self and results in the increase of sustenance; fasting has been prescribed so that genuineness may be reinforced; pilgrimage to Makkah has been prescribed to establish the religion; justice is prescribed to establish proper harmony in the hearts; the obligation to follow us (the Ahlul Bayt) has been prescribed to set up order in the community, and our leadership (imamah) has been prescribed to save the people from differences.” Lady Fatima(a) explains that prayer is a means to keep us away from pride. It is interesting that the pillar of our religion, prayer, is meant to develop our humility. Hence, one key value
...it is unfortunate that Muslims,..., reduce
the Sermon of Fadak as a speech given to reclaim inheritance. On the contrary, it is actually the most comprehensive and best reminder on the message of Islam and its principles that the Muslims have ever received after the Prophet(s).
for all Muslims is that of humility. Humility does not only benefit the individual, but the society as a whole. According to Pelin Kesebir (2014), “Humility involves a willingness to accept the self’s limits and its place in the grand scheme of things.” Studies have shown that those who are humble are more effective leaders (Owens et al., 2011), more helpful, have higher self-control, better work performance (Megan et al., 2011), higher grades (Rowatt et al., 2006), less prejudice, and better relationships. Being humble is an essential quality which forms the basis of our relationships with others, as well as our relationship with God. The next important action is fasting, which Lady Fatima(a) describes as a way of increasing sincerity. When we fast, no one is aware of our action but God; therefore, fasting is done purely for Him. It is thus that fasting inculcates in us sincerity and genuineness of actions. Indeed, our actions are accepted according to the sincerity with which they are performed. As Imam al-Sadiq(a) states, “The pure action (done out of sincerity) is that which the servant does not wish to be praised for by anyone except God.” Lady Fatima(a) also explains that alms-tax is a means of purification. The word ‘zakat’ itself means purity; thus, it refers to that which is given from something in order to purify it and increase its worth. Although it normally refers to alms-tax, traditions detail that there is a zakat for everything. Imam Ali(a) said, “The zakat of power is equity,” and Imam al-Sadiq(a) said, “The
zakat of knowledge is to teach it to those who are worthy of it.” Therefore, Lady Fatima(a) was teaching us that true Islam upholds the qualities of humility, sincerity, and purification. However, these values are not just for the individual alone, but form the foundation for a pure society. After mentioning these ordinances, Lady Fatima(a) discusses that justice is a way to establish harmony in hearts; following the Ahlul Bayt(a) brings order in the community and Imamate saves us from differences. Consequently, an individual who follows these teachings is one who prays to stay away from pride, who fasts sincerely for God, and who gives alms-tax to purify himself. It may seem that these qualities are not related to each other, but if we strive to be more sincere and humble as individuals, then this will facilitate unity and justice in our communities. Lady Fatima(a) taught us to work on ourselves as individuals, but also as a society. Human perfection is not attained by an individual striving towards God, but humanity as a whole becoming more perfect in its journey to God. In her sermon, Lady Fatima was reminding us to remain attached to those values which represent true Islam, the message her father brought, and not to accept anything else as the message of Islam. Indeed, Imamate is the preservation of Prophethood, and she was striving to implement Imamate in society. The sermon of Fadak will always remind humanity not only of the message of Islam, but that of the daughter of the Prophet, Lady Fatima Zahra(a).l
St Mary, the mother
Frank Gelli explores the mysterious life of St Mary the mother of Jesus and a common bond between Muslims and Christians
h rist taking Leave of his Mother’ is the moving subject of a colourful painting by German artist Albrecht Altdorfer. It can be admired in London’s National Gallery. It shows the Virgin Mary swooning with grief while her son says farewell to her before departing for Jerusalem, to his passion and death. Although no such episode is recorded in the New Testament, it is likely to be historical. There is no doubt that Mary knew what Jesus’ awesome mission was, as St John’s Gospel relates that Mary stood by the crucifixion, along with other holy women and the apostle John himself. Supernatural insight apart, it would have been natural for a sensitive mother to feel some presentiment of her son’s impending destiny and that may be why later Mary followed Jesus to Mount Calvary. t must be admitted that in the Christian Scriptures information on the Virgin is limited. There is nothing about her birth or her death and very little about her life. It is true that countless traditions exist filling in many details but those are only legends or expressions of popular spirituality. The New
Testament tells the essentials about her. At the Annunciation by the Angel Gabriel Mary accepted the Word of God and obeyed it. Jesus’ first public miracle at the wedding feast of Cana was worked at her request. Her last appearance was after the Resurrection, at prayer together with the Apostles on the Mount of Olives, before the descent of the Holy Spirit on the nascent Christian Church. St John narrates how from the cross Jesus, as a loving son, provided for her. ‘Woman, behold your son!’ he intimated, putting Mary under the guardianship of the Apostle. ‘Behold your mother!’ he then told St John. The text adds: ‘And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.’ Well, that
home must have been somewhere but where? It seems that the Apostle went on to become the first bishop of the famous Greek city of Ephesus, in Asia Minor, and of course he would have taken Mary with him. Ephesus is now in ruins but there is a small village nearby where tradition says that the Virgin’s house was located. Following the visions of the German nun Catherine Emmerich, the precise place was identified and a chapel built over it. Again, it is only a devotional practice but I was there once and I can testify to the sense, the feeling of the sacred almost palpable in the air… A famous passage from the Book of Revelation, the Bible’s
last, has been applied to the Virgin Mary from the earliest times. It describes a great portent in heaven. ‘A woman clothed with sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars… and she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God…and the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent who is called the Devil and Satan…’ A tremendous symbolic narration. The meaning is that out of the pain of Calvary Jesus was born into the glory that was to be man’s salvation and Satan’s defeat. And behind this allegorical imagery stands the Virgin Mary, the mother of the Saviour, who through her pregnancy was the first to undergo the fruitful sufferings demanded by such close association with Christ. Another key Marian event often portrayed in Christian art is that of the Assumption. Contrary to some uninformed notions,
e r of Jesus
the Church does not consider Mary divine, like her only son, but a created being, no matter how special and set apart. As such, the Virgin had to partake of the final fate of all human beings, death. Yet, she obtained an extraordinary honour or prerogative. After her death her body was ‘assumed’ or taken up into heaven, along with her soul, to preserve it from corruption. Notice that the mother of Jesus was not unique in that because the Old Testament prophets Enoch and Elijah also enjoyed the same privilege. The Roman Catholic Church formalised such belief by declaring it a dogma, a truth that the faithful are obliged to hold, as recently as 1950. By contrast, the Orthodox, Eastern Church does not consider the Assumption an obligatory doctrine. The people are free to hold it or not. It is fair to mention that Protestants do not accord any particular importance to the Virgin Mary. Indeed, she was one of the chief causes for the enraged controversies and fights which tore Western Christendom apart in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Thus, Calvinists and Lutherans repudiated the Marian cult. In a moderate, reformed church like Anglicanism, devotion to the Virgin has some official place but largely confined to the ‘High Church’ liturgical
strand. Most Anglicans do not pray to the Virgin, nor does she play a major part in their spirituality, if any. Still, Mary has a significant role in Muslim/Christian religious dialogue. There are more references to her in the Qur’an than in the New Testament. She is a common bond between the two faiths. Something to celebrate, I think. There is a distinct sense of peace and tranquillity by the little house set in the woods near Ephesus, where Mary might have spent her last days on earth. After the amazing upheavals, the joys and sufferings of her life as the mother of the Messiah, what did Mary crave for the rest of her human existence? I like to imagine it was something very simple. Quiet. She just wanted to be quiet. l
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.
Looking through one’s eyes Tahir Ali, an iridology practitioner, explains the basic about iridology and how he discovered it
ridology is the scientific examination of the iris, pupil and sclera. Through the use of iridology we can diagnose imbalances within various systems of the body, be they organ systems, lymphatic system, endocrine system, tissues or bones. Iridology is a very accurate diagnostic tool used to understand the constitutional challenges and diseases that we all face. Iridology offers us a unique approach to preventative medicine. Through the iris we are able to see disease in each constitutional type long before the symptoms present themselves. The constitution is the sum total of all inherited conditions – the genotype. The fundamental goal of iridology is to prevent serious degenerative disease and the return of the person to a healthy equilibrium. We achieve this through the use of Naturopathy, Phytotherapy and Homotoxicology.
brief history of Iridology
The first iris charts were found in Ancient China dating back several thousand years. In the West observation of changes within the eyes has been with us since the time of Hippocrates. And more recently in 1670 in Dresden, a doctor by the name of Philippus Meyens published a book called Chiromatica Media in which he mentions iris signs and their meanings. Then in1786 Christian Haertels published his findings in Gottingen. And in 1881 Dr Ignatz von Peczely published his work: Instruction in the study of diagnosis from the eye. In 1887 the Ophthalmologist Dr Schlegel wrote a book on eye diagnosis. Since then there have been many great pioneers in the field of Iris Diagnosis such as Pastor Felke, Eva Flink, Dr Schnabel, Josef Angerer, Gunther Jarosyck, Josef Deck, Bernard Jensen, Gunther Lindermann, Siegfried Rizzi, Harri Wolf, Dr Daniele lo Rito and John Andrews to name but a few.
W hat is Naturopathy?
Naturopathy is a system of treatment and healthcare that supports the body’s innate ability to heal itself through exercise, psychotherapy, structural therapies, fasting, massage, hydrotherapy and dietetics. Phytotherapy is the use of plant based medications to treat and prevent disease. It is distinguished from traditional herbal medicine which relies more on empirical knowledge. Phytotherapy relies on pharmacological studies of specific phototherapeutic uses of various herbal formulae. There are many modern day drugs which were synthesised from herbal medicine. For example from the herb Ipecac the drug Emetine is derived. The drug Cynarin is derived from artichokes while aspirin is derived from White Willow. From Cinchona the many derivatives of Quinidine drugs are made. In fact there are more than 120 different plants that have had their compounds isolated and synthesised into modern drugs.
W hat is Homotoxicology?
Homotoxicology is a holistic scientific biomedical system of healing designed by Dr Hans–Heinrich Reckeweg in 1952. It is based on Classical Molecular Immuno-pathology and Diagnostics. Disease is considered as an expression of the battle between the organism and the toxins within. To quote Dr Ivo Bianchi “every organism is a flow system attempting to maintain the equilibrium of its flow. The flow will be disturbed by substances (toxins) which attempt to damage the organism.
The purpose of Holistic/Wholistic Medicine is to bring the body back into balance. By using the abovementioned disciplines, we can restore health and well-being.
In holistic medicine we treat and view the body as a whole entity instead of seeing each part of the body in isolation. We are able to treat the patient more comprehensively. For example if we look at a patient with eczema, we would not just prescribe a cream to try and relieve the itching. We would look at the liver, kidneys, lymphatic System, the patient’s diet and then finally the skin. Through this approach we are able to help the patient heal and bring about long lasting health and well-being.
H ow I discovered Holistic Medicine
When I was younger I had continuous lower back pains that were only relieved by taking painkillers. So I went down the usual GP route and was told there was nothing wrong and that I should carry on with them. After a few visits to the doctor I was finally referred to the hospital for tests. These tests came back as clear. I was not convinced by the test results as I was still living with the pain. After speaking with a friend who had visited a Chinese doctor for an ailment that had been troubling him, I decided to give it a try. I visited a Chinese doctor and explained my symptoms. He checked my pulse and my tongue and said very casually that I had blockages and stagnation in my kidneys. I was blown away by this man’s diagnosis, I was amazed by how easy it was for him to find out what had been causing me the pain. Then he showed me many jars of herbal medicine. Some looked like roots, some looked like twigs and some looked very strange! So I thought I’d give it a try and see what happens. After a week of taking the medicine, to my delight the pains had diminished and after month the pains had gone completely. This got me thinking: if this medicine could cure me then what about other illnesses?
After some research and another referral from a friend, I found an iridologist who told me even more about my health. I was completely blown away with the amount of information and detail he was able to uncover. From then on I was sure that I wanted to become an iridologist, so that I could heal myself and also help others. I have had the honour of treating many people over the past 15 years. And I have helped people to change their life styles for the better, which in turn has had a positive knock on effect on their families. I have successfully treated people with diabetes, infertility, asthma, eczema, constipation, migraines and rheumatism to name but a few. As Muslims we are looking to live in a state of balance and well-being. This method of holistic medicine offers us a way to find and establish balance in our lives and the lives of our families. We all want the mind, body and spirit to be healthy and through the practices and advices of the Holy Prophet(s) and His Ahlul Bayt(a) we strive to improve ourselves. Holistic Medicine is a tool that can help us to understand and achieve that balance and well-being. There is a hadith from Amir ul Momineen(a) where He says “your sickness is from you, but you do not perceive it and your remedy is within you, but you do not sense it”. There are many layers of meaning in this hadith. If we take a very basic look at it we can see that we are the cause and the cure for illness within us, be it physically, mentally or spiritually. And we have lost our way through a lack of awareness and perception. The aim of holistic medicine is to bring that awareness back into our lives. And God Knows best.l by Tahir Ali M.H N.I email@example.com
Travel Guide to
Muslim Europe With travel writer and European Muslim heritage specialist Tharik Hussain
We were now both stood outside the green fence that surrounded the mosque and its unkempt cemetery. Inside, a dozen or so slim tombstones were in different stages of decay. Many had legible Persian script
the reason I had made my way to Mangalia. It was the claim by Mangalia’s mosque that had brought me here. “During the 16th century, the princess Esma, daughter of Selim II and wife of the high vizier Sokollu-Mehmet Pasha, took refuge in Mangalia,” continued the sign. “Moscheeea! Gooood!” encouraged Lutfi. I peered over at the modest, whitewashed building with its awkward minaret and terracotta tiled roof. All the elderly
and unmistakable Ottoman stone headdresses. Turbans and Fezzes peered over untidy foliage like proud soldiers refusing to wane. Celebi’s claim wasn’t
worshippers were now in the courtyard. Some stood under the veranda engaged in gentle conversation. The others shuffled towards the exit, where the
forgotten royal mosque
he bright August sun winked at me every time it caught Lutfi’s large, tinted sunglasses. He gave me a toothless grin, before lifting his walking stick to tap the brown tourist sign above our heads. “Go to Mangalia, which is the Ka‘bahMakkah of the wandering poor people”, read the words. Wow, I thought, quite a claim for an obscure town in a non-Muslim country. A Ka‘bah - Makkah? Really? Here?... The linguistic folly of combining Islam’s holiest sanctuary with its holiest city was doing the claim no favours. The quote was attributed to the celebrated medieval Ottoman traveller, Evliya Celebi. Lutfi - a Romanian Turk - was also an Ottoman product. His ancestors would have arrived in these parts when the Muslim empire began expanding beyond its native Turkey. Lutfi and I had just prayed Jum’a inside the rather modest Esmahan Sultan Mosque - Lutfi’s local - and though we
had no common language, the elderly gentleman knew why I was here. I was looking for Romanian Muslim heritage.
kindly Tatar woman sat in her small teatent, bowed respectfully as they passed her. The sign went on to claim Princess Esma had personally commissioned the mosque in 1575. Lutfi’s mosque was a royal Ottoman mosque. Princess Esma had been the granddaughter of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent - arguably the greatest Ottoman Sultan of all time. It was he who had appointed Esma’s husband, Mehmet, as Grand Vizier. After Sultan Suleiman died in September of 1566, Mehmet oversaw the next two royal ascensions of Selim II and Murad III - Esma’s father and brother. Both of these Sultans were far less capable than their illustrious predecessor. Selim II was known as ‘Selim the Drunkard’ and Murad III was very reclusive, hardly leaving the royal palace. Increasingly, state affairs were left to the Grand Vizier. From 1566 to 1579, it was the Grand Vizier and not the Sultans that ran the Ottoman Empire. Combined with Esma’s growing influence in the royal harem, Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmet and Princess Esma were the Ottoman equivalent of a ‘superpower couple’. There was a problem though; Sokollu was not an ‘Ottoman’. A classic devsirme story; Mehmet was 10-year-old Bajica, a Bosnian-Serb Christian boy when he was taken by
the Ottomans from Sokolovici, a village in eastern Bosnia. Like most devsirme, he was enlisted in the Janissaries where ‘Mehmet’ rose steadily through the ranks before his burgeoning talent was spotted by Sultan Suleiman, who made him Grand Vizier in 1565. The fact that a non-Ottoman yielded such power and sway in the royal courts did not go down well and in 1579 Mehmet was murdered by a ‘mad dervish’. I stared at the unkempt graves and imagined a tired and weary Grand Vizier walking up the pathway to enter the mosque. Towards the end of his life, the knives were out for the Ottoman power couple - especially the devsirme Grand Vizier. Most likely the busy streets of the Ottoman capital no longer felt safe for them. Here, in the relative obscurity of Mangalia, yards from the gentle lapping of the Black Sea, Mehmet and his royal wife may have indeed sought peaceful refuge. Lutfi was now standing surrounded by several friends. All of them were about the same age as Mehmet had been when he came here. As each one of them, dressed in a smart shirt, pastel trousers and flat cap, bid others farewell and began shuffling home, I couldn’t help but notice that they were also very much at peace here in Mangalia.l
Where in the world: Mangalia is at the very southern tip of Romania’s Dobrogea region on the Black Sea, close to the Bulgarian border. The mosque is in the east of the city, on Strada Oituz, near the pleasure beach and marina. In and out: Mangalia is a 45-minute drive south of the nearest major city, Constanta. Regular ‘shared taxis’ run between them and cost just a few Romanian Lei. Constanta is also very well connected by train to the capital city of Romania Bucharest, where international flights arrive daily. Top tips: Use Constanta as a gateway to visit the Esmahan Sultan Mosque and you can also appreciate two other important historic Romanian mosques. Close to the city’s port, looking out across the Black Sea is the Grand Mosque of Constanta, formerly known as the Carol I Mosque. It was commissioned in 1910 by the Romanian King Carol I. A few minutes’ walk towards the old town from there is one of the last mosques built by the Ottomans in 1869, the Gemea Hunchiar. Both are worth a visit.
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: www.tharikhussain.co.uk
The Creation Small creatures
Dear Children, Assalam Alaikum
s we said last month, we will be talking about a few educational sermons of Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb(a). He was taught by the Prophet Muhammad(s) himself so his words and teachings, together with his advice to the Muslims, have been a wonderful source of information and educational material. After the sermons on the creation of the Sun, Moon and other elements in nature, Imam Ali(s) speaks about the creation of small but important creatures. His observations are
a lesson for us and an encouragement to understand how incredible God’s creation is. Through schools and studies children these days know a lot about ants, birds and spiders, but at the time of Imam Ali(a), the majority of people did not even have the basic knowledge about their surroundings. It was not usual for common people to study or consider God’s creation and that is why what the Imam described to them was nothing less than miraculous.
Imam Ali(a), in sermon 185, talks about ants. He describes this small creature with its small but strong body that goes around collecting grains and seeds to take it to its nest to store for the winter. “God the Greatest has given it legs by which to walk and to be able to do many things. The ant collects food when it is strong and fit and the food is more readily available, to prepare for those difficult times when food is scarce.”
Imam then tells us about the locust: “God gave it two red eyes, with pupils like two moons, gave it a small ear, and a suitable mouth. He gave it two front teeth to cut with and two sickle-like feet to grip with. And finally He gave it a great mind.”
He then moves to the story of birds. Amazingly he says that the birds are subject to God’s commands. “God knows the number of their feathers…He has made their feet stand on water and land… God knows all their species.” And then he names them; the crow, the eagle, the pigeon, the ostrich…
There are many more topics to learn from his teachings. Join us next month in our adventurous journey exploring Almighty God’s creation through the knowledgeable words of our leader; Imam Ali(a).l Illustrator Ghazaleh Kamrani March2018 2018 March
What & Where Through March 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 1 March Zaytoun Supper lub Join us for a very special collaborative supper club with Damascus Chef and Palestinian fair-trade food suppliers Zaytoun. Share maftoul and other delicious Palestinian dishes served in a communal environment on rugs and cushions in our main exhibition room. The meal will be prepared by Abdullah Al Awayed, head chef at Damascus Chef, who grew up in a small farming village in Syria. This supper will bring the spirit of sharing Abdullah grew up with to The Mosaic Rooms. We will also be joined by Bassema Barahmeh, a maftoul and olive oil producer for Zaytoun, visiting from Palestine, who will share her experiences of farming and agriculture in the West Bank. Venue: The Mosaic Rooms, Tower House, 226 Cromwell Road, London SW5 0SW Time: 7.00 PM Tickets: £35 More info: http://mosaicrooms.org/ event/zaytoun-supperclub/ 3 March Sadaqah Trek Join our volunteers for an enjoyable and challenging trek through Box Hill to help raise funds to build an Orphans eco-home in Tanzania. There’s only a £150 fundraising target which we’re confident you’ll be able to easily exceed! Time: 10.00 AM - 3.00 PM Meeting point: East London Mosque, 42 Fieldgate Street, E1 1ES Registration: £25 (includes transport from East London) More info: https://www.islamichelp.org. uk/sadaqahtrek/
Jihad, Violence, War & Peace in Islam When did the idea of jihad, and Islam become so interchangeable? Why is jihad only equated with violence in the minds of so many in the West? Where does peace fit into the narrative and when is violence ever acceptable? IIDR invites you to join the debate in our latest addition to the Critical Reflection Series: Jihad, Violence, War & Peace in Islam. Hosted by the author of the course text himself, Prof. Tariq Ramadan, this one day seminar will offer you coherent, evidenced and practical answers to all your jihad related questions. Venue: Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Rd, London, E1 4NS Time: 9.00 AM - 6.30 PM Fee: £29 - £35 More info: http://www.ukislamicevents. net/#event|jihad-violence-war-peace-inislam-london|9565 5 March Market Islam and organising Hajj-going in late modern Britain: tour operators, pilgrim welfare and UK governance The modern management and organisation of Hajj has been continually transformed in recent decades. Infrastructure and pilgrim services in the Holy Places have been ‘upgraded’ to accommodate (and take advantage of) a growing global demand for Islamic pilgrimages, travel and tourism. Indeed, during the 2000s the Saudi authorities finally put an end to Muslims from non-Muslim states organising Hajj independently. Since then British Muslims have been obliged to purchase packages from approved Hajj organisers. This paper sketches this transformation of the cultural and political economy of Hajj-going in Britain, drawing on around 40 in-depth interviews conducted with UK Hajj organisers, pilgrims and other industry stakeholders, as well as observations at industry related events over several years. Speaker: Professor Sean McLoughlin (University of Leeds) Venue: ERI 144, University of
Birmingham, Edgbaston, B15 2TT Time: 12.00 PM - 2.00 PM More info: https://www.birmingham. ac.uk/schools/ptr/departments/ theologyandreligion/ 6 March Who speaks for Muslims? This event is part of the British Academy’s season on Identities & Belonging. Muslims are regularly presented in a negative light in mainstream media, and as a result, the word terrorism has become almost synonymous with Islam. Similarly, racist hashtags are commonplace online. Social media channels do however; offer a space to counter toxicity. Sharing the findings of their British Academy funded research project into the #StopIslam Twitter campaign, Elizabeth Poole and colleagues discuss how – and by who – anti-Muslim sentiment is being challenged online. Venue: The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5AH Time: 6.30 PM - 7.45 PM Entry: Free, booking required. More info: http://www.ukislamicevents. net/#event|who-speaks-for-muslimslondon|9447 7 March - 16 April Creative Kufic Calligraphy Kufic was the first Arabic script to be consciously made beautiful, an unlike the later round scripts with their strict rules, it can be constantly reinvented and is not tied to any given tool or medium. Students, then, can benefit from the same creative freedom that the earliest calligraphers enjoyed, and find their own approach to the art of Arabic calligraphy. Tutor: Joumana Medlej Venue: The Arab British Centre, 1 Gough Square, London, EC4A 3DE Course: 6 weeks | 12 hrs + 4 hrs final workshop Fee: £215 More info: http://www.arabbritishcentre. org.uk/
9 March Mesopotamia: the cradle of civilisation A 45-minute gallery talk by Sebastien Rey, British Museum staff. Suitable for all levels of knowledge. Venue: Room 56, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG Time: 1.15 PM - 2.00 PM Fee: Free, drop in.
Speaker: Professor Jorgen Nielsen (University of Birmingham
systematically catalogued by researcher and The Barakat Trust’s Grantee, Omniya Abdel Barr. During this talk, she will discuss her efforts to investigate Creswell’s photographs as well as the stories they reveal; adding geospatial data to map these historic sites and including Arabic script.
Venue: ERI 144, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, B15 2TT Time: 12.00 PM - 2.00 PM More info: https://www.birmingham. ac.uk/schools/ptr/departments/ theologyandreligion/
Venue: Prints & Drawings Study Room, Victoria and Albert Museum Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL Time: 6.00 PM - 8.00 PM More info: http://www.arabbritishcentre. org.uk/
19 March Islamic studies – scientific or confessional? A contested university subject
12 March Lost Maps of the Caliphs: The Fatimid View of the World Seminar with Yossef Rapoport, Queen Mary University of London. Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: WLT, SOAS University of London, 10 Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, WC1H 0XG Time: 12:00 PM Organiser: Dr. Ceyda Karamursel 17th & 18th March Introduction to Islamic Poetry (Arabic, Persian & Urdu) This two-day course will explore the rich culture of pre -Islamic and Islamic poetry. Dating back to pre-Islamic Arabia, poetry is one of the oldest and most esteemed forms of expression in the Islamic world. Islamic poetry spread across Persia, Africa, Asia and Spain, and was written in exaltation of Allah and His Messenger. (It was also written in praise of kings, to profess love, and provide political commentary. This course will cover well known preIslamic poetry such as Mu’allaqat and Islamic poetry written by Jalaluddin Rumi, Allama Iqbal and others, exploring their poetic style and the vibrant literary heritage they left. Venue: TBC London Time: 9.30 AM - 5.00 PM Fee: £32.85 – £97.36 More info: http://www.ukislamicevents. net/#event|introduction-to-islamicpoetry-london|9456
22 March Theological Training in the 21st Century: A Debate - Part 2 The second of three events in the series. The purpose of this series of debates, organised by Woolf Institute Cambridge Scholar Austin Tiffany, is to bring together various voices in the field of theological education and clerical training. Categories to be discussed will include Jewish, Christian and Muslim theological education, the adaptation of religious leaders to their surroundings and circumstances (that happens at a more rapid pace than at theological institutions), and debates about Mixed-mode or Residentialmode-style of clerical training. Venue: Woolf Institute, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0UB Time: 5.00 PM More info: http://www.woolf.cam.ac.uk/ whats-on/events/theological-trainingin-the-21st-century-debate-ii
27 March Edward W. Said London Lecture 2018 The annual lecture will be presented by Amira Hass with the title: The Preventable: Israeli Fantasies and Techniques of Population Expulsion. Hass has been a correspondent for the Israeli daily Haaretz in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1993. She lived in Gaza between 1993 to 1997 and, since then, in the town of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. She is the author of two books: Drinking the Sea at Gaza (Metropolitan, 2000) and Reporting from Ramallah (Semiotex, 2003). Venue: The Royal Geographical Society, Ondaatje Theatre, 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR Time: 7.00 PM Tickets: £14 / £8 concession for students More info: http://mosaicrooms. org/event/edward-w-said-londonlecture-2018/ 28 March
Introducing Islamic Art
From Cairo to Aleppo: exploring the photographic archive of K.A.C Creswell
British Museum gallery talk by Anne Haworth. Suitable for all levels.
Join us for an in-depth exploration of a unique archive of Middle Eastern topographical photographs dating from the early-20th century. As part of The Barakat Trust’s commitment to the study and preservation of Islamic heritage and culture, more than three thousand of Sir Keppel Archibald Cameron Creswell’s photographic prints are now being analysed and
Venue: Room 34, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG Time: 1.15 PM - 2.00 PM Fee: Free, drop in. 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.