issue 62 vol. 6 August 2018
MARJA’IYYA… IS IT RELEVANT TODAY? INTERFAITH
HOW CHRISTIANS ENGAGE WITH THE SCRIPTURES OPINION
WHAT FUTURE FOR FRENCH MUSLIMS AFTER FRANCE’S VICTORY?
Contents issue 62 vol. 6 August 2018
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Title Education, Organisation and Public Relations The Majlis Ulama-e-Shi‘a (Europe)
Marja’iyya… Is it relevant today? The martyrdom anniversary of Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq(a)
A Heavenly Wedding by Kubra Rizvi on occasion of the marriage of Ali ibn abi Taleb(a) and Fatimah bint Muhammad(s)
Trying to give up by Batool Haydar
Relationship & Sex Education by Kate Godfrey-Faussett
Art Looking forward Inform Film Aspire Photography Engage Installation
Islam & Aniconism by Abbas Di Palma
The role of the ‘Word of God’ in our life by Hujjat al-Islam Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali
How Christians engage with the scriptures by Paul Gateshill - The Focolare Centre of Unity in Welwyn Garden City
What future for French Muslims after France’s victory? by Zainab Bukhari
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The Sons of Cordoba Travel Guide to Muslim Europe by Tharik Hussain
Just Married Children Corner by Ghazaleh Kamrani
Listing of Events What & Where
Education, Organisation and Public Relations
he Majlis Ulama-e-Shi‘a (Europe) a London based organisation of Muslim scholars of SouthAsian origins celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Islamic Centre of England. The events, attended by dozens of scholars and members of the community, commemorated the achievement of this organisation which has been serving the religious needs of the community since it was founded in 1993. Among those to address the conference was Hujjat al-Islam Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali, Head of the Islamic Centre of England. In his speech Dr Shomali underlined certain priorities in working to develop the Muslim community. He identified three major areas where works need to be done; education, organisation and public relations. Using the analogy of the construction of a building Dr Shomali stressed the need for Islamic organisations and Islamic communities to have a wellconceived and properly designed structure that can endure challenges and also look attractive from the outside. He identified education as fundamental to make each individual’s faith strong enough to cope with the challenges of this materialistic world. Dr Shomali stressed the point that education and the formation of believers are different from only giving information. He praised all those scholars and organisations that are already working in this field and emphasised that more should be done to teach the young generation that Islam is a well-structured system rooted in faith and rational argumentation. In terms of designing a community he spelled out the necessity of having an organisation that serves and organises the community with a well-defined hierarchy.
The egocentric mentality does not serve the interests of the community, said Dr Shomali. He also emphasised the need for a strong leadership which works within a well defined system. The formation or emergence of people who all want to be leaders is counterproductive to the needs of the community added Dr Shomali. He said that the community also needs disciples. In a community all roles are important, and disputes within members and leadership are not beneficial for the community nor do they serve the Imam of Our Time. Being outspoken when speaking is not always fine said Dr Shomali. A wise person might be silent for many years. He gave the example of Imam Ali(a) and how he was silent for many years and when he finally spoke his words became the ‘Peak of Eloquence’. Dr Shomali expressed hope that Majlis Ulamae-Shi‘a will be able to implement such guidelines and wished it success. He concluded by addressing the third point, the importance of public relations. He stressed how important it is for people to come to know Muslims both as a community and individuals and exhorted Muslims to become more visible so that we can interact with others to help to remove suspicion and hostility. He stressed that the community must be able to present itself in a way that is well understood and to do so you need to publicise ourselves more in our own terms before others define us. Dr Shomali also stressed the need to reach out to our brothers and sisters in faith from the Sunni school of thought, those who believe in God and those who are people of good will because if we claimed that we are serving God and humanity we have to be serving all of humanity.l
Marja’iyya… Is it relevant today?
The relevance of the Marja’iyya was the topic of two lectures delivered at the Islamic Centre of England on the occasion of the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq(a) last July. Guest speakers for this occasion were Hujjatul-Islam Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali and Hujjatul-Islam Mohammad Ali Ismail. Both speakers addressed the subject from two different prospectives. Focusing more on the legalistic aspect of why the institution of marja’iyya is as important today as it was when it was first established, Sheikh Ismail provided some rational and logical explanation to put across his points. He explained why it is necessary to follow an Islamic scholar as a source of emulation. He argued that it is from such scholars that we derive knowledge and guidance for the performance of our religious practices. A layperson is obliged to make use of this kind of in-depth knowledge which is based on years of study and investigation of the original Islamic sources. Sheikh Ismail indirectly warned people not to think that one can acquire an understanding of Islamic rulings just by reading or accessing some texts. He explained that the process of extrapolating rulings from the sources requires years of experience and the study of a body of knowledge accumulated over 1400 years. Guidance provided by the great Marja taqlid (scholars whose rulings we are allowed and obliged to follow) is based on such knowledge and emulating them will help us justify our actions on the day when we will be questioned by God. Focusing on the position of the ulama (Islamic scholars), Dr Shomali reminded the audience that both Imam Baqer(a) and Imam Jafar Al-Sadeq(a) encouraged their followers to seek knowledge and despite the fact that their favourite activity was to worship God they imparted knowledge whenever they had the possibility to do so. Dr Shomali explained how starting from within the mosque of Madinah these Imams provided a fountain of knowledge for the public but also trained special individuals in a number of different sciences including medicine and chemistry. Dr Shomali’s answer as to why knowledge is important was that there is nothing more that could make an individual, a community or humanity closer to God than knowledge. He reminded the audience that one of God’s attributes is ‘The
Knowledgeable’ and that having or acquiring knowledge is one of the best ways to resemble His attribute. He further stressed the point that all ranks of perfection and nearness to God are based on knowledge. He said: “ranks are given by God based on iman (faith), and iman without knowledge does not work”. Those who are given the highest ranks are those who have acquired knowledge and use it in the service of people. True knowledge comes from iman and taqwa (piety through awareness of God’s power) and those who have both are the best individuals. The Imams of Ahl ul Bayt(a) always encouraged their followers to follow people who have both knowledge and taqwa, added Dr Shomali. He explained that the Imams trained their followers and encouraged them to do their best in acquiring knowledge laying the foundation of the institution of marja’iyya (the highest religious position in Shi ‘ a Islam). The position of marja’ (high religious scholar) is reserved for scholars who have both knowledge and taqwa. Dr Shomali further elaborated on the institution of the marja’iyya, explaining how a marja’ is bound by his own founding in the field of knowledge as he knows that he has made his best effort to obtain a sound ruling. “The position marja’ comes with its own attributes and a well-defined feature that goes beyond the personality of the specific individual”; said Dr Shomali. He termed the marja’iyya a sacred institution that needs our respect. Dr Shomali also touched upon the downfall of previous religious communities who allowed individuals lacking a depth of knowledge and piety to guide them with disastrous consequences. He referred to a tradition from Imam Jafar Al-Sadeq(a) that describes the relationship between the Shi ‘a scholars and their followers and makes them unlike previous communities. In conclusion, Dr Shomali explained that the Imams exhorted the community not to follow an individual that does not have the qualities mentioned above and that the risk of going astray is also present among the Shi‘a if they fail to follow qualified scholars.. He reaffirmed that the institution of the marja’iyya
saved the Shi ‘a Muslim community by providing guidance and preserving the knowledge of the holy Imams of Ahl-al-Bayt(a).l Both Dr Shomali’s lecture and Sheikh Ismail’s can be viewed from https://www.youtube.com/user/ islamiccentre1998/videos under the following titles: • The position of Ulama and Institution of Marja’iyya according to Imam Sadiq(a), by Sheikh Dr Shomali • Marja’iyya… Is it relevant today? by Sheikh Mohammed Ali Ismail August 2018
Life & Community
A Heavenly Wedding A fruitful family life starts with a good marriage. Kubra Rizvi looks at the marriage of Ali ibn abi Taleb(a) and Fatimah bint Muhammad(s)
hose who knew Ali, the son of Abu Talib(a), sensed the usually brave champion was feeling particularly shy and hesitant. All of Madinah had heard the Prophet Muhammad(s) announcing that the marriage of his daughter, Fatimah(a), was in the hands of God and he had nothing to do concerning the matter. Well aware of the fact that others before him had been refused, Ali(a) traipsed to the home of the Messenger of God and kept his gaze lowered. The Prophet(s) asked, “What do you want, my brother?” Imam Ali(a) remained silent for a while, so the Prophet asked, “Maybe you have come to propose marriage to Fatimah?” Imam Ali replied, “Yes, I have come for that very purpose.” Although he was the Messenger of God, the Prophet was also a father and set the precedent to ask his daughter’s consent. “Ali, before you other men had come for the proposal of Fatimah. Whenever I informed Fatimah of this matter, she would not show her approval. Right now, let me inform her of this conversation.” The Prophet(s) came to his beloved daughter and gently asked in a voice full of fatherly affection and contentment, “I wish to make you the wife of the best of God’s creation. What is your opinion?” Just like Ali, Fatimah glowed with shyness and modesty and lowered her head, making no denial. The Prophet(s) spoke, “God is the Greatest! Her silence is the proof of her agreement.”
It is also narrated that the Prophet(s) said to Ali, “Welcome! God has ordered me to marry my daughter to you. An angel came and said to me, ‘O Messenger of God, God sends you greetings and says to you: I have married Fatimah to ‘Ali in the high Heaven, so you marry her to him in the earth.’” *** Forty days before the wedding ceremony in Madinah, exciting preparations were taking place in Heaven. The angels were used to spending their time in prayer and remembrance of God. However, today they were surprised for it seemed something special was taking place. They remembered when they were commanded to bow before Adam(a) and wondered if it was another incident regarding mankind. Indeed, it was a wedding which would illuminate the pages of time forever. The angel Jibra’il spoke to inform them that they were witnessing a heavenly wedding. God Himself was the guardian who married Lady Fatimah to Imam Ali. The splendour, beauty and magnificence of the wedding celebrations were indescribable but not surprising, for it was the blessed wedding of the Mistress of all the Worlds, the daughter of the Mercy to the Worlds, with the Commander of the Faithful and the Leader of the Pious. Nevertheless, Lady Fatimah’s earthly dowry was very simple as it would be an
example for all the women of the nation so that no one would remain unmarried due to high dowries. The Prophet(s) asked Imam Ali what he had to pay as dowry, “I have a sword, armour, and a horse.” The Prophet(s) said, “As for your horse you need it, and as for your sword you cannot do without it, but as for your armour you can sell it.” Imam Ali sold his armour for the modest amount of 480 dirhams and came back with it. The Prophet(s) took a handful of dirhams and asked Bilal to buy perfume for Lady Fatimah. He asked Salman and Lady Umm Salamah to buy some furniture, which later consisted of: a sheepskin to sleep on, a pillow stuffed with palmtree fibres, a bed made of palm-tree branches, a water skin, a handmill, two jars and some pottery vessels. The Messenger of God(s) saw the pottery and said, “Blessed are the people of a house whose vessels are mostly of pottery.” *** The Lady of Light was in her chamber, preparing for her wedding. It was the night every girl dreams about. Perhaps mixed in her happy thoughts were memories of her mother and longing for her to be with her. A knock on the door interrupted her angelic thoughts. A poor young woman stood before her, asking for a dress. The Qur’anic verse echoed in the mind of that noble lady, “You will never attain piety until you spend out of what you hold dear (3:92).” There, in that moment, Fatimah
became the exemplar for all the women of the worlds. History had not witnessed, nor would perhaps again see a woman give away her wedding dress on her wedding night. Perhaps Ali matched this generosity when he gave his ring in ruku’ and the words of the tradition rang true, “Indeed, if Ali was not created, there would be no equal for Fatimah.” When the marriage was agreed, the Prophet(s) gave a sermon before a crowd of his companions. He praised the Merciful Lord and quoted the following verse which states that God has made two types of relationships:“It is He who created the human being from water, then invested him with ties of blood and marriage, and your Lord is all-powerful (25:54).” Then he said, “I make you witness that I marry Fatimah to Ali for four hundred weights of silver (as dowry).” Then he prayed for them and their offspring, and made their progeny the keys to mercy, the source of wisdom and safety to the nation.” Imam Ali also praised God and prostrated himself before God in gratitude for this great blessing. On the night of the wedding the Prophet(s) said, “O Ali, there must be
a banquet for the bride.” He gave him some dirhams and told him to buy oil, dates and cheese. The Prophet(s) himself split the dates and mixed them with the oil and cheese and offered it to the guests. Hundreds of men and women ate from the dish with the Prophet’s blessing. When everyone left, the Prophet placed Fatimah on his left and Ali on his right and prayed for them and bid them farewell. However, the next day the Messenger of God(s) came to inquire from both blessed spouses how they found
the other. They both similarly replied that in each other they had found the best companion for worshipping and serving God. Truly, marriage in Islam is a means to nearness to God. Two other important lessons we learn from this couple who not only had a heavenly wedding, but a heavenly marriage is that they never angered each other nor asked for something the other could not fulfil. If we endeavour to follow their teachings and example perhaps our own marriages would be a piece of heaven.l
Batool Hayder sacrifices something only to realise it was never hers to give up in the first place
“You will never attain piety until you spend out of what you hold dear...” (Holy Qur’an, 3:92) 8
Trying to give up
he other day, my husband complained to me: “You are always busy doing things for others. You never have time for me.” At first, I wanted to laugh for a number of reasons: it was such a textbook complaint, it wasn’t true because we do spend a lot of time together and most of all, it sounded eerily similar to what my daughter had said that same morning when she told me: “You’re not listening to me. Stop being busy and play with me.” It’s good to know that I’m needed by those I love, but it’s also a very fine balancing act to actually fulfil those needs. Unlike my daughter, he’s an adult and open to reason. The choice should be simple. However, he has valid needs, hers are sometimes simply whims. So every time there’s an unspoken battle for attention, I have to pause and think about who it is that really needs me. The sacrifice seems to constantly oscillate and sometimes, it’s hard to figure out if you made the right choice afterwards. However, the one person who definitely ends up losing attention is me. I don’t get to do the things I want to, to indulge in my hobbies, to chill and rejuvenate my social life. Inevitably, that train of thought leads to the ‘poorme’ place that is probably the most unhealthy state-of-mind a person can reach. In the past, I am ashamed to admit; I have sulked in this place for a while, whinged a lot and then, because nothing enforces reality like a demanding toddler, forced myself to bounce back into my normal mode. This time around, when the process threatened to begin, something was different. It all began when I recently started implementing the advice of a scholar and made a point to read a few verses of the Holy Qur’an every night with their translation. I have done this sporadically in the past, but never with the determination to make it from
cover to cover. As he promised, with every reading, there has been a lot of confusion, some glimpse of a hidden truth, a slight tremor of promise and always a lesson to learn. It is also miraculous (don’t you love when that happens?) that most nights, the verses I happen to be reading in some way help with the day that has passed or become relevant in the day that follows. And so, while I was on the brink of yet another ‘what about me?’ downward spiral, I read the verse I have quoted at the start of this article. ‘Spend out of what you hold dear...’ Whenever I have read or heard this verse before, it has always seemed to indicate financial expense. But it can metaphorically apply to so many other things that we hold dear, the most precious of all being time. Time is the one thing we think we own and need to guard jealously. We all have felt that need to walk away from everything and everyone to get some ‘breathing space’, which really just means ‘some time alone’. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that when I did get that time alone, I wasn’t really ever alone. We all know that God is with us all the time, but how often do we actually realise this fact and acknowledge it? When we have that half hour of solitude to ourselves, it’s actually a half hour we have alone with Him. He is breathing down our neck, so to speak (closer to us that our jugular vein, right?), asking ‘Can you hear Me? Have you finally found Me? Are you even looking for Me?’ So these minutes and hours that I was hunting for in a day or a week, even these do not belong to me. Time is a Gift, on loan from God until the day He decides to take it back and me with it. This is the hardest battle to fight, the greatest thing to sacrifice - letting go of this feeling of ownership over something that seems to be so essentially ‘mine’.
But if nothing is mine, not even my time, then how can I feel the need to take it back from those around me? My spouse is considered rizk - a provision - given by God, my child the same. My role as wife and mother were granted by God. Everything He gives has a purpose as well as a benefit, so fulfilling those roles is not only an obligation, but an opportunity to become better. Paradoxically, everything that I give to my family, everything I sacrifice for them is not mine to give or sacrifice to begin with, it is all from Him. I am simply a medium, a conduit for His Blessings to those around me. The better I am at transferring, the more I become what He wants me to be. These ideas are easy to think about, to express and put in words. Accepting and implementing them, however, is a real challenge. Logically, I know that everything I have belongs to God, yet my heart still wants to claim things as mine, to possess my identity, to define my Self. I keep re-reading the verse and I want to attain the piety God has promised, yet the simple rule He has laid down for it seems like such a great barrier. I wonder that we fall in love so easily with our spouses, giving up likes, dislikes, interests, sometimes even beliefs, for them. We allow children to claim our love, giving it to them freely and unconditionally. How strange then that we resist giving up our ego to the One Who Loves us most. We take such pride in our worldly selflessness without realising that it is all a reflection of Divine Love, that what we do for others out of love, God has been doing for us since He Created us. l
“Give that which you love the
most: time, interests, love, romance, adventure...”
Relationship & Sex Education … “Verily the heart of a youngster is like an empty plot of land … whatever is planted there will take root” - Imam Ali(a)
s parents, the thought of having to talk to our children about sex education, may fill most of us with feelings of anxiety, embarrassment and dread. Such emotional responses are completely normal! However, the topic of sex education in Islam is of extreme importance, especially as we are bringing our children up in an increasingly sexualised society in which many sexual practices that are in opposition to Islamic teachings, are becoming progressively normalised and encouraged.
The current situation is exacerbated by the fact there is a western initiative, that is already well underway, to introduce a comprehensive sexuality educational curriculum into all schools worldwide. As individuals and as a community, we must address the issue of sex education head on and discuss related topics with our children from an Islamic perspective that emphasises the importance of marriage, chastity and modesty. As the above saying of Imam Ali(a) indicates, children’s hearts and minds are accepting of whatever information they are exposed to. We need to ensure we sow the seeds of Islamic knowledge and understanding into their hearts before the weeds of deviance and corruption take root. What is RE/RSE? The British Government have legislated that from September 2019, Relationship Education (RE) in all primary schools and Relationship and
Sex Education (RSE) in all secondary schools will become compulsory across England. The new legislation will require all children from Reception (age 4) up to Year 11 (age 16) to attend these classes. We are currently waiting for the government to publish the statutory guidelines on what must be taught in RE/RSE as a legal minimum.
to explore the above topics in increased detail as well as cover subjects relating to sexual attraction, safer sex, consent, abortion rights, LGBTQ+ issues and sexually transmitted infections. All children across primary and secondary schools will also be taught about contemporary issues relating to safety such as consent and pornography.
What will they teach? Whilst schools will have to adhere to the statutory guidelines once they are published, they are encouraged to provide a more comprehensive RSE curriculum and to draw on external expertise regarding teaching the different RSE topics. In a review of several RE/RSE resources produced by ‘external experts’, young children (KS1) are taught about body parts including the genitals, which are often explicitly named and accompanied by nude drawings or toy dolls with genitalia, as well as introduced to diverse family configurations (e.g. heterosexual, homosexual, single- parent). Typical resources for 7- 11 year olds focus on topics such as puberty, sexual orientation, boyfriend/girlfriend, body exploration, reproduction and contraception. Schools have also been instructed to become LGBT+ inclusive and to adopt an ethos throughout the school environment that promotes and accepts different sexual orientations as equal to heterosexuality. Challenging gender stereotypes and the teaching of gender identity is also likely to be introduced. At secondary school, RSE is likely
Do I have the right to withdraw my child from these lessons? You currently (2018) have the right to withdraw your child from ‘sex’ education because as things stand SRE (sex and relationship education) is not taught as a statutory (compulsory) subject within school. In secondary schools in England, when RSE becomes compulsory in 2020, it will be up to the head teacher’s discretion
coming soon to a school near you whether or not parents retain the right to withdraw their child from the ‘sex’ part of RSE. If primary schools teach ‘sex’ education then parents will retain the automatic right to withdraw their child from this component of RSE. It is important to note that parents do not have the right to withdraw their child from other compulsory national curriculum subjects that RE/RSE topics may be introduced into, e.g. science lessons which include biology-based sex education; English lessons which may, for example, involve reading a story about a same-sex family or studying a novel that includes a character exploring their gender identity. In addition, Relationship Education is compulsory across both primary and secondary schools and it is yet unclear
which topics will be taught as part of Relationship Education and which as part of Sex
Education. Parents do not have the right to withdraw their child from RE, even if it includes teachings that contradict their faith. Parents need to be aware of what their child is learning at school and it is imperative to take proactive steps and ask their child’s school for details on what their child is currently learning in SRE and to be kept informed of developments in RE/RSE. Schools are encouraged to work collaboratively with parents in this regard. What does this mean for Muslim families? The new sexuality education movement which is being introduced into British schools as well as into schools across Europe and many parts of the world has its ideological roots in the sexual liberation movement. Many of its beliefs and practices are in direct opposition to Islamic teachings. Parents have a duty to ensure the education and protection of their children and as a community we can no longer afford to be apathetic or ignorant of what our children are being taught in schools, or to the effects caused by growing up in an increasingly sexually liberated society.
when our children are ready to be taught certain topics, as the state has taken that right upon itself. We thus need to rethink and prepare for how and when we teach our children about sex education and topics likely to be covered by RE/RSE (or that are already being taught in some schools) that need putting into context from an Islamic perspective e.g. body development, sexual relations and sexual orientation. It is imperative that we address such subjects with our children and start talking to them before they are exposed to these ideas at school, otherwise they will form distorted views and assume that un- Islamic practices are acceptable. God willing, this is the first in a series of articles that hopes to inform and support parents from an Islamic perspective regarding the compulsory introduction of RE/ RSE into schools.l
By Kate Godfrey-Faussett Chartered Psychologist To find out more please visit: www. StopRSE.com or email the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org
One of many factors to consider is that by introducing RE/RSE into schools for 4 year olds, it has altered how we as parents would choose to educate our children in relationship and sexual matters as Muslims. If our children attend school we no longer have the luxury of deciding
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.
Looking forward Over the next month or so there will be a variety of artistic outcomes which not only reflect personal story and experience but also give us a glimpse of how these narratives shape social understanding.
Inform Film Pink Saris is a documentary film about the Gulabi Gang in India. A revolutionary group made up of women founded by Data Satbodh Sain in 2002. Responding to a lack of statutory support for victims of domestic abuse, this women-led initiative was formed to protect and defend the rights of women and those affected by caste prejudices, a taboo that is a growing phenomenon according to this documentary. Donning pink saris the group were filmed fundraising and organising weddings for Dalits or Untouchables, the lowest caste, to members of higher castes as well as providing education and practical support. While I found the documentary engaging, the film Pink Saris is problematic on many levels. The first is the devising of a protagonist; a western construct that does not fit the narrative of an Eastern cultural collaboration of peers as their name would suggest. Instead, the film chooses to create a leader, Sampat Pal, and convey the story through her eyes. Dividing the group in this way plays into western ideals of a divide and rule coloniserâ€™s narrative which sits uneasily in a 21st century India which is attempting to undo the destructive adoption of a caste-based system devised by its long devoid coloniser. I also take issue, not with the fact that Pal is described as a feminist, but that the overarching notion of feminism is hegemonic and eurocentric and she is neither. I mentioned this because in the bigger picture, albeit through a eurocentric lens, Pal represents the image or example of one who should be saved rather than do the saving and it would seem that the European director, Kim Longinotto, not only uses her white privilege to voyeuristic ends but weaves a tale that suits her own sensitivities and values rather than those experienced by the characters within the film. While I do recognise that this perception feeds into the rhetoric of otherness I do, of course, believe it to be a given that social mobility, freedom and opportunity should not be limited by gender. And that these rights should be afforded to all and every society should support the implementation of this on all levels. Longinotto is known for making films about female victims of discrimination and oppression and this narrative fits well with her goals. But the documenting of Eastern culture through a western lens is an uncomfortable addition to an already difficult subject matter.
Aspire Photography This summer, the Art of Seeing will be facilitating a photography workshop exploring the landscape with Peter Sanders in the Hunza Valley, Pakistan. With China to the north-east and Pamir to the northwest, this area of outstanding beauty has been described as heaven on earth. All the mountain ranges surrounding the valley, the Himalayas and the Karakoram ranges, are higher than 6,000 feet. The sights will be filled with snow-capped mountains and autumnal colours. This journey is intended to improve visual literacy and help participants to develop their own visual language.
Engage Installation Abbas Zahedi
exhibition, ‘The Script’, which uses images to depict performed identities, and is also on show at the same time.
“Designed to extend the relationships between Nottingham›s multifaceted Muslim community and New Art Exchange, Live Archive, emerging from a research phase where Zahedi interviewed diverse local communities and organisations. A process of collaboration was then created to bring aspects of existing ritual practice and discourse into the gallery context; entangling the living archive of the community with the exhibition space.” Abbas Zahedi is the man behind the Jum‘a prayer being performed at the Tate Modern earlier this year. The installation was part of the annual Tate Exchange programme, an initiative organised by the gallery space to test ideas and discover new perspectives on life. Zahedi’s work is strongly influenced by what he defines as being the “imaginal quality of being a second generation migrant in a hyper-connected world.” He describes this concept as “neo-diaspora”, an exploration of the personal and sacred with the modern dilemma of social and global ideals. Zahedi often uses his own life experience as a point of departure in order to disrupt notions of origin and settled identities. His current project at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham, which runs through August, constructs multifaceted situations that explore the psychopolitics of contemporary reality and is inspired by Akram Zaatari’s
For this, Zahedi presents his new project, Live Archive, a programme of performances and discussions that create the opportunity to engage with faith-based rituals and artistic practice such as qasida recitals, dhikr and khutbahs. Zahedi’s work is not only modern and complex; it is also multi-layered and hinges on duality. Here again, the notion of the personal and the sacred is played out with the body or self as a live archive relating to and transforming the space it inhabits. “This investigation inhabits an imaginal approach to space, in which individual bodies echo and resonate with the broader socio-political and historical contexts that are constantly [re]producing them.” - Abbas Zahedi l
ISLAM & ANICONISM
Abbas Di Palma, discusses art in Islam and acceptability of it within the community
he relationship between art and the religion in Islam has been a complex one down the centuries. Such a wealthy variety of expressions and tendencies can be viewed as a harmonious interaction among different Muslim people rather than a clash of cultures or civilisations. As a matter of fact, art flourished in most Muslim societies, each one with its own unique characteristics.
the Arabian Peninsula. By the advent of Islam, such representations were gradually less utilised although nowhere in the Qur’an do we find a ban on statues or images. Representation of an idol is certainly not allowed in Islam but it should be noted that many if not most
However, in some Muslim circles due to extreme unorthodox views, especially in the last decades and after the spread of ideological Islamism, many forms of art have been considered with suspicion. Under the pretext of returning to a pure form of Islam, many artistic and aesthetic expressions such as the representation of human or animal images have been banned. As a reaction and retaliation, some consider this form of nonrepresentation as non-art. Not condemning any form of art - each one of them finds its own place within the Islamic framework - I would like to avoid underestimating the religious implications stemming from some legitimate Islamic points of view that emphasise the abstract nature of religious art. Before the prophethood of Muhammad(s), idols and images were widespread in
On that occasion, the Prophet Muhammad(s) forbade any revenge and bloodshed, except the symbolic destruction of idols around and within the Kaaba. According to some sources the Prophet ordered Muslims not to destroy an image representing the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus, leaving this as the only icon in Makkah inside and outside the Kaaba. This was because the icon did not represent an idol. It was only after a short period of time that the icon was destroyed, not by the Prophet’s order but an accidental fire.
of the representations in the early years were directly or indirectly of idols.
The destruction of idols may be seen also as a defence against any anthropomorphic idea of the Divine who cannot be fairly represented by any physical shape. Muslim mystics expressed this by speaking of the duty to “destroying the idols abiding in the heart” and sought to actualise it internally.
On the other hand, it is true that when Muslims entered Makkah they destroyed all the idols but the act was linked to the unity of God and the defence of Islamic creed after years of persecution by Makkan aristocrats.
There is no doubt about the substantial and categorical prohibition in Islam directed towards the representation of Divinity. The prohibition of representing the divinity aims also to deny any sort of associationism such as nothing relative
would be considered on the same level of the absolute truth. To deny such associationism is a clear act of the affirmation of la ilaha illa Allah (there is no deity but God). When such idea tends to generalise, it becomes natural for some to avoid also the representations of prophets, messengers and even saints and holy figures; not just because such images may become the object of worship or exaggerated devotion, but to respect their real and holy personalities which are in fact inimitable. That was the opinion expounded by the western Muslim scholar Titus Burckhart whose valuable works have introduced Islamic spirituality to a wider audience in Europe and to some new intellectual circles. He went further by claiming that holy personalities are God’s viceroys on earth created in ‘God’s image’. Something similar is found in the book of alKafi where it is reported that Imam Baqir was asked about this issue and said: “God’s image is a form that was originated and created. He elected it and chose it over all the other different forms and attributed it to Himself”. This point is highly controversial for many reasons. Firstly, the expression ‘God’s image’ which is primarily found in the Bible appears in an Islamic tradition whose authenticity cannot be unanimously certified according to Islamic standards. Secondly, such an expression seems to be in direct opposition to many other established traditions affirming that God’s essence cannot be conceived as He is far greater than any conception. In fact, the above
narration explains that God has no image; what may be called God’s image is a sublime creation that God attributes to Himself in the same way that He attributes Kaaba to Himself and calls it His House. In some types of literature, the similitude of God is metaphorically described through poetry and parables, but it
cannot be grasped by images or material senses as it is something beyond the boundaries of the physical. The same may go for the great dominion of prophets and saints; not surprisingly the description of the Prophet that the Qur’an provides focuses on his spiritual conduct: “And you [O Prophet] possess a high quality of moral excellence” (Qur’an 78:4). Some Muslim circles discourage the representation of anything living (humans and animals) as an act of respect to the divine secret that is present in every creature.
In this light holy art does not necessarily necessitate images because silence, muteness and concealment may legitimately represent a contemplative state not by reflecting ‘ideas’ but changing the environment and allowing it to participate to the harmony of the spiritual realm. Accordingly, aniconism does not reduce the quality of expression but extols it by excluding any image that invites man to something outside of himself. It is an abstract adornment that naturally set the heart towards the realities of the invisible. It may be argued that art is something subjective, or a personal experience and that we cannot generalise such views and apply them to every single individual. This is a legitimate position and certainly, it is the case in the Muslim world where a variety of artistical expressions have constantly been presented to the public. The point of this article is to try to provide an answer to the question of whether non-figurative art may be still considered a form of Islamic art, and I think we should answer positively. Some people may find that such art preserves the primordial sense of the divine that cannot be usurped by a corporeal expression which is limited by nature and more easily become an idol between man and the invisible presence of God. What is fundamental is the fact that “there is no god but God” and that such a reality dissolves any objectification of the divinity.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.
The role of the
‘Word of God’ in our life
Following is a summary of a talk by Hujjat al-Islam Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali on ‘The Words of God’ discussion held July 2018, at the Focolare Centre of Unity in Welwyn Garden City UK In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
he Word of God plays a significant role in our lives. Although it may not have actually played this role completely in our lives, it is an aim that I am trying to achieve. We can bring the Word of God into our lives on a few levels. First of all, acceptance of the Word of God can be considered as formalising our faith. It can sometimes be very abstract or even ambiguous to say that I believe in God, but if we translate belief in God into believing in the Prophet and the Book, it makes it more formal and more concrete. For this reason, in many places, the Qur’an states that we believe in God and in what God has revealed to the Prophet and previous prophets. So, for us, to believe in the Qur’an, and Bible for you, is a way to ensure that we are formally or officially part of the community of faith. Thus, I think this is the first function of the Word of God. Another role the Word of God plays is in our guidance. It is not just something we sign as acceptance, like when we sign a declaration to become a member of something. There are a few ways the Word of God guides us. One way is that the Word of God awakens our innate understanding of God, what is right and what is wrong. In Islam, there is a concept called fitrah, which refers
to the innate knowledge and desires of human beings. Therefore, we believe even if we are not taught from outside, all human beings grow with a certain understanding and distinction between what is right and what is wrong. God has placed an internal compass within us, moreover, He also teaches us through revelation. These two forms of guidance match and are compatible. Hence, the Word of God is a reminder; indeed, one of the titles of the Qur’an is Dhikr. Dhikr means invocation, as well as remembrance and reminder. The Qur’an states that it is a reminder: “It is just a reminder for all the worlds.” (81:27) The Word of God reminds us what we as human beings should be able to understand by ourselves. Therefore, if a human being has been brought up well, although not necessarily religiously, and has a sound understanding of Word of God, there should be lots of resonance. However, this is not to say that everything written in the Word of God can be understood innately because that is mostly for basic things. Nonetheless, there should be lots of resonance. The second thing is that the Word of God unearths the treasures of intellect. Thus, Imam Ali(a) states: the prophets came to unearth the treasures of intellect.” This tradition indicates that there are things human beings have understood
throughout the ages by using their reason in the form of wise teachings. Unfortunately, these are sometimes buried under numerous superstitions or confused ideas. Consequently, we have to unearth them. So, the Word of God gives you a means of access to the treasures of the intellectual findings of humanity. It is very important in Shiʻa Muslim tradition that the Word of God should resonate with our conscience as well as our intellect. Regrettably, many Muslims do not have the same approach. In any case, we believe that the Word of God should actually bring out these intellectual understandings and findings of humanity. The Book of God is an encouragement for us to start thinking; it does not just say, “Sit and I will walk.” In contrast, the Book of God says, “Let’s walk together and I will show you the path.” The third thing is that the Book of God teaches us something extra, something that we are not able to understand by ourselves. Thus, even if all the philosophers of the world think for thousands of years, they cannot free us from the need of the Book of God. The Qur’an says: “And teaches you what you did not know.” (2:151) One of the things the Prophet does is to teach you what you were not able to know by yourself. So, he emphasises
what you are able to know, but also teaches you something that you were unable to know. Yet, how does the Word of God teach us something more than just reminder and more than unearthing intellectual treasures? I have written three points; the first is by learning theoretical knowledge. For example, the Qur’an tells us how to interact with family, though some instructions are a reminder. Being kind to parents is a reminder since even if you are not religious you can understand it. However, there are more details in the Qur’an about how to deal with your parents, children, and spouses. Furthermore, the Qur’an explains what should be done if there is a family problem, such as between husband and wife. Neither is the Word of God a book of theories or an academic book. It is written in a way that not only teaches you but also relates you to the subject and tries to develop it within you. This aspect is extremely important; hence, whoever wants to really engage with the Word of God should read it carefully, but not just as a university book. Though it should be read carefully like a university book, one’s soul must also be connected to it. Indeed, there is something more than theory here; the Qur’an does not just want to tell you that you have to be kind to your parents, it wants you to actually appreciate that and then implement it. Consequently, the Word teaches you, makes you appreciate, and makes you implement. Then, in addition to all of these, and more significant than all of these, I think there is still another level of benefiting from the Word of God in our lives, and that is the fact that when you connect to the Word of God you connect yourself to God. No human book can achieve something similar. If I write a book anyone who reads this book can understand something about me and can even have some personal experience about me without seeing me through my book because a book is somehow a picture of the author. However, the Word of God is different because it is designed to be a rope that is extended from God to earth so that
we connect to God. The Qur’an states, “Hold fast to Allah’s cord”.(3:103) You should hold onto the rope of God.
is what the Word is saying, this is what I am doing, how much do I correspond, and how much do I resonate?”
Therefore, God has not just given us a book; He has given us a rope to help us connect with Him. My view is not typical, but I do not see why people should not accept it; if we present it to them they should accept. I think that God has made a channel to send light, mercy, healing, and guidance through this rope. These are the exact words which are used in the Qur’an, not my words. Thus, there is rahmah, shifa, nur, and guidance, “We send down in the Qur’an that which is a cure and mercy.”(17:82) Light, mercy, guidance, and healing are sent through this channel. Consequently, the Qur’an is not something which was given fourteen centuries ago, now everything is finished and we just try to review it. I believe that with those 114 chapters that God has given, He has created a space through which He is still at work. Even today He is at work in His Word. I am not totally surprised if someone says that a generation may understand something that the previous generation not only did not understand, they were not supposed to understand. Of course, this is not a contradiction. He has created a space through which He functions and, therefore, we can say there are two types of guidance. One is to show the path, and this is given to all people. The other is to actually come along with you on this journey and take you to the destination. This guidance is also available and God does it through the Prophet and through the Word for the people who appreciate the first offer of guidance. So, I can make the Word of God my personal tutor and my personal trainer.
If we keep doing this, not only will our life become compatible with the Word of God, but it will also become a mirror for the Word of God in which people can see the Word of God today. I have already made the journey easier for them. If one person today applies the Word of God, He makes a connection to the Word of God easier for other people. Our great role models and leaders from both traditions who have tried to live the Word of God, like Imam Khomeini, Allamah Tabatabai and Chiara, not only lived the Word of God in a very fresh and contemporary way but also reflected the Word of God for others. What we are supposed to do is quickly get what they give us and then pass it on to other people; either we pass it on less, equally, or I think we can even do more as there is no limit here. It is an ocean which always has something to offer. Nevertheless, this should be done with humbleness, as we have discussed the first thing is humbleness.
Please remember this extremely important point. The Qur’an is not just a Book, written and finished; rather, it is a Book whose ink is fresh. In my view, this is an area that then needs to be cultivated through reflection on the Word regularly, bringing the Word into our lives, and constantly checking our life and performance with what this tutor and mentor is teaching us. “This
A beautiful hadith of the Prophet Muhammad reads: He said to Imam Ali, “Isn’t this the fact that after God His Book is the best thing?” The Book is more important than the Prophet and the Imams because they were all creatures, whereas the Word of God is not created by God. In reality, it is a manifestation of God. Hence, we can get connected to God through the Word of God and constantly be inspired. We can receive detailed guidance and instruction, not just abstract commands. I think then, little by little, you can start feeling the presence of God very vividly through the Word. The Qur’an is not this paper and ink, but it is the means God has used to come into our life. Therefore, by holding the Qur’an you can get connected to God. So, these are just some thoughts I wanted to share with you. It is something that I believe is possible and am working on myself.l August 2018
How Christians engage with the scriptures The following is part of a presentation delivered during a discussion on ‘The Words of God’ held at the Focolare Centre of Unity in Welwyn Garden City UK by Paul Gateshill
I have divided this brief introduction into three parts:
lThe ways in which Christians understand and approach the Bible (Minds) lThe ways in which Christians use the Bible (Hearts) lThe effects of living the Word (Hands)
he ways in which Christians understand and approach the Bible
Different Christian denominations approach the scriptures in a variety of ways. This might range from a fundamentalist view that every word in the Bible is the unerring word of God that cannot be questioned - to a more liberal perspective: that the Bible is inspired by God but written by humans and needs to be understood within the culture in which it was written.
So, if we take, for example, the story of Creation in Genesis: A fundamentalist view is that the world was indeed created by God in six days and therefore science has got it wrong. Mainstream Christianity, on the other hand, would see Genesis as an attempt to answer more ‘why’ questions rather than ‘how’ questions such as: Is creation an accident or was it planned by God? What is the place of humans in this creation? Why do we suffer etc? I’m going to focus on the way mainstream Christianity approaches the scriptures.
It sees the Bible as the inspired word of God, which has been written and compiled over many hundreds of years by different groups of people grappling with their understanding of God and of his work throughout history.
Biblical scholarship The Book of Isaiah Before the advent of biblical scholarship, most people would probably not have been aware that this popular book was written by different people over
a period of around 200 years. In fact, Isaiah comprises three separate collections of oracles: Proto-Isaiah (chapters1–39), containing the words of Isaiah; the words of the 8th-century BCE prophet Isaiah ben Amoz. Deutero-Isaiah (chapters 40–55), the work of an anonymous 6th-century BCE author writing during the Exile (586 BCE). Trito-Isaiah (chapters 66–56), composed after the return from Exile. (515 BCE) This understanding has emerged due to: l The Historical Situation: Chapters 40–55 presuppose that Jerusalem has already been destroyed and the Babylonian exile is already in effect – they speak from a present in which the Exile is about to end. Chapters 56–66 assume an even later situation, in which the people have already returned to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple is already underway. l Anonymity: Isaiah’s name suddenly stops being used after chapter 39. l Style: There is a sudden change in style and theology after chapter 40; numerous keywords and phrases found in one section are not found in the other.Of course, most Christians would have little knowledge or interest in any of the above! They would be more concerned with what Isaiah has to say to them in their daily lives today. The ways in which Christians use the Bible The Bible is central to Christians, especially so since it was translated into their vernacular - one of the cornerstones of the Reformation. The Bible is used collectively in worship and study and for individual meditation. In worship, Christians use readings
from the Old and New Testaments, with a special emphasis on the Gospel reading. Respect is shown in a variety of ways – eg standing when the Gospel is read. The readings usually provide the basis of the sermon. In Free Churches, the Bible is placed on the communion table to symbolise the importance of the Word of God. In individual study and meditation. Many Christians will use the Bible for meditation and prayer. This is often accompanied by notes helping the reader to go into depth. The effects of living the Word There is a definite focus on living the word in the Focolare. At the beginning of the Movement during the chaos of World War II, Chiara Lubich and her companions took the Gospel and read it phrase by phrase. It shone with a divine wisdom in every passage. Every word became a light in their lives. They not only read it but also put it into practice. They focused on one sentence and meditated on it, and then applied it to their daily lives. They discovered that living the Word had various effects: The Word makes us free – in the Gospel St John says ‘The truth will make you free’ (Jn8:31) The Word brings about union with God. I’m sure many of us have experienced that at the end of a long day when we have really tried to live the Word – to love, we can experience a deep sense of union with God. We may feel tired but experience the fullness of joy and peace which can only come from God. The word produces the hatred of the world and the holiness of the disciples ‘John Chrysostom said: ‘The sea is raging and you will calmly sail over it. Your pilot is the reading of the
Scriptures and your rudder will not be broken to pieces by the temptation of worldly affairs.’ The Word makes us one Chiara Lubich wrote: ‘The word of Life is like a little pill which contains in concentrated form all that Jesus brought to earth, the Gospel message’ The Word brings about a complete change of mentality St Paul says in Ephesians: ‘Be renewed in the spirit of your minds and clothe yourselves with the new self.’ When I met the Focolare I met people who lived the Word – who loved. Sometimes with very simple gestures which really challenged me: I realised that I was actually a very selfish individual. I remember once a close friend told me after a social event that I had been quite arrogant and that I had put another friend down. I was really shocked by this – because it was true. I had already met the Focolare then and I was trying to put love into practice. I realised then that it wasn’t about trying to be nice to everyone – living the word demanded a complete change of mentality. To live the word means to become another Jesus – the Word. We might also add that the Word: l
makes us see the truth
gives us joy
preserves us from human worries
What future for
after France’s victory? African or French that is the question! Zainab Bukhari looks at the hidden message behind France’s victory in World Cup 2018
s a Muslim French woman, my feelings in regards to France’s victory at the World Cup 2018 are quite divided. They are not divided about the game in itself – for the players undoubtedly demonstrated their brilliance on the field – and I do not see how I could be unhappy about winning the title again after 20 long years. Rather, I am sceptical about the changes that this win will bring to the everyday lives of individuals belonging to certain ethnic groups in this country, and to the Muslim faith in particular. As a lot of people have pointed out, 15 players in the French national squad have roots in Africa, while seven are Muslims. Yet this fact is never highlighted
in the mainstream media, and while the common French man might easily recognise someone having African ancestry due to his skin complexion, he is still often a ‘stranger’ due to the fact that he is a Muslim. Not that the personal beliefs of footballers should become a subject of scrutiny (ideally they shouldn’t), but in the context of France and ever-rising Islamophobia, one would expect the media to be somewhat more eager to highlight these facts. But why would it do that? After all, it is that same media which has been continuously feeding Islamophobia, never failing to qualify a terrorist as ‘Muslim’, and then conveniently forgetting to add this adjective to our national players. This reality
was effectively summarised by Karim Benzema a few years ago when he famously said: “If I score I’m French… if I don’t, I’m an Arab.” Eventually, this victory seems to be nothing more than a temporary distraction. It makes for a good excuse to not speak about real topics and real issues plaguing French society. Today, if two individuals with the same credentials apply to get a job or a house, the one who is not ‘French-looking enough’(whatever that means) or who has a more ‘exotic’ name than a ‘Jean’ or a ‘Dupont’ will still be much less likely to be successful in his endeavour. Countless surveys and social research have proven this sad state of affairs. Let’s not even talk about the plight of Muslim women, who probably face even more challenges on a daily basis. For all these reasons, it is important to not only bring awareness about the Muslim faith of certain players but also make the common man understand that Islam is by no means an obstacle to French identity. I am divided as well in regards to the politicisation of the game. It would be foolish to assume that all the players of the French team voted for Macron in 2017, let alone endorsed his subsequent actions and notably his recent bombings of Syria. Like many fellow Muslims, I see these footballers more as a team from France rather than a team of the French government. The fact that the national team shines today on the world stage is exclusively due to its members’ own efforts and endurance. Macron has had no hand in this victory. Does his presence during the match lend a political dimension to this win? I would not like to think so, as a football match is not meant to be an endorsement of a certain political agenda. However, the French media has already started its clever manipulation by giving absolutely undue credit to our president, and this is plain ridiculous. While all the memes claiming that it is not France but Africa that won the Cup may be funny at first, they highlight a sad truth: immigrants have still not been fully integrated into French society, and many of them are more inclined to refer
to the nations of their ancestors as their real ‘home’, instead of France. In an inclusive society free of discrimination based on race and Islamophobia, it would not be the case. More generally, I feel despondent about the French people too, who do not hesitate to take to the streets when it comes to a football game but fail to do the same when it comes to protecting peace, their social rights, public services, independence, and freedom. The huge crowds gathered on the Champs-Elysees to celebrate France’s triumph demonstrates the abiding
power of the people, and how they could potentially bring a government to its knees. More than ever, today’s generations should take inspiration from the 1789 revolution and decide to fight [not literally, of course] for their ideas, instead of constantly submitting themselves to the will of the powerful. All said and done, history was indeed witnessed. We can just hope that tomorrow will be better and that a fitting outcome will arise out of this victory.l
Travel Guide to
Muslim Europe With travel writer and European Muslim heritage specialist Tharik Hussain
The Sons of Cordoba
he city of Cordoba in central Andalusia, Spain, was one of the most enlightened cities in the medieval world under the Muslim Umayyad rulers. Its streets had lighting, there were public baths and hospitals in every neighbourhood, and its libraries were stocked with more books than the whole of northern Europe. In fact,
Al Hakem II - Caliph
Cordoba remains the only caliphate city ever established in the western hemisphere - a place that was also home to some of the world’s great luminaries. A few of these ‘sons of Cordoba’ are celebrated today through a series of statues found scattered across the city.
Al Gafeqi - Doctor and Optician Studying the works of contemporary Muslim doctors as well as the works of Hippocrates, this 12th-century man of medicine was known for his expertise in optics, especially his skill in removing cataracts. Al Gafeqi was probably the first modern ‘optician’ to highlight the importance of diet in retaining good eyesight. His most famous work, Guide to the Oculist, was seen as an outstanding historical, scientific and literary achievement. A copy of it remains in the library of El Escorial Monastery near Madrid.
Location: Plaza del Cardenal Salazar Son of the first ever European Caliph, Al Hakem II was renowned in front of the Faculty of Philosophy for his love of knowledge and often bought books from places and Arts as far afield as Kufa and Constantinople. His reign saw one Where in the world: The statues are spread out through the of the first great translation movements in the Muslim world historic centre of Cordoba, the city in the Spanish region of as he commissioned the Arabisation of important Latin and Andalusia - derived from Al-Andalus, the historic Arabic name Greek works. Al Hakem’s library was reportedly better stocked for the Iberian peninsula under Umayyad rule. than the rest of the continent and he also employed one of Cordoba’s greatest female minds, Lubna of Cordoba, as his In and out: The best way to get to Cordoba is to fly into Malaga personal secretary. Blond haired and dark-eyed, he is said to airport and get the train north. The old town is a short walk have had a gentle nature and is also remembered for opening from Cordoba’s main train station. twenty schools for impoverished children, expanding the city’s Great Mosque and completing the fabled palatial city, Madinah Top tips: Take a trip out to the ruins of Madinah Az Zahra Az Zahra. He died in 976. completed by Al Hakem II, which is a short bus ride from Cordoba and appreciate the heights reached by the caliphs of Location: Plaza Campo Santo de los Martires Al Andalus. This palatial city, now in ruins was built when Al Andalus was arguably the most enlightened city in the world a story told through the site’s impressive museum. 22 islam August 2018 today
Ibn Rushd Philosopher, Theologian, Astronomer and Doctor
Maimonides - Rabbi, Philosopher, Doctor and Astronomer Ibn Hazem Poet, Philosopher and theologian Known as Al Andalusi Az Zahiri for his propagation of the Zahiri madhhab (religious sect) - Ibn Hazm was born shortly after the reign of Al Hakem II and witnessed the beginning of the end of the Spanish Umayyad empire. As the son of a civil servant, Ibn Hazem was nurtured in the rich cultural melee of the royal courts, where he studied great works and mixed with the city’s aristocracy. However, when civil war broke out in Al Andalus, Ibn Hazm’s criticism of the illegal taifa kingdoms popping up across the empire forced him to flee. He wrote more than 400 treatises on politics, history, theology and literature, with his most famous work being The Ring of the Dove - a milestone in medieval literature that influenced later Romantic writes and gave birth to the genre of Courtly Love. He died in 1064 in the village of Montija (in Huelva).
Location: Puerta De Sevilla (Gate of Seville)
Known in the western world by his Latinised name Averroes, Abu-l-Walid Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Rushd was one of the most brilliant minds of Cordoba. The great polymath, born in 1126, came from a long line of qadis (judges) and was part of the Cordoban educated elite. He served as a qadi in both Seville and Cordoba - in the latter, as Chief Qadi. An expert on Aristotelian philosophy and Islamic theology, Ibn Rushd wrote many treatises attempting to marry the two. His most famous, Commentaries on Aristotle, became the most influential work of Hellenic thought in medieval Europe, reawakening the continent’s interest in Greek philosophy. He died in Marrakech, Morocco in 1198.
Location: Calle Cairuan
Known to the Jewish community as the second Moses, Moseh Ben Maimon was a highly celebrated Jewish doctor, philosopher, astronomer and Torah theologian who was born in Cordoba in 1135 and like his contemporary Ibn Rushd was one of the most brilliant minds of his age. Sadly his life coincided with the arrival in Al Andalus of the intolerant Almohads of North Africa, which led to his family’s exile to Fez in Morocco in 1158. This was followed by a period in Palestine before Maimonides settled in Fustat, Egypt in 1165 where he became the personal physician to the great Muslim leader Salah-ud-din as well as Nagid of the country’s Jewish community until his death in 1204. Amongst his most celebrated works are the Misneh Torah, Guide for the Perplexed (philosophy) and his medical canon, Commentary of Aphorisms.
Location: Plaza De Tiberiadesl
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
Dear Children, Assalam Alaikum
his month we celebrate a joyous occasion, a wedding anniversary, commemorating the marriage between the ‘best of daughters and mothers’ Fatimah Zahra(s), to the best and closest friend to the Prophet Muhammad, Ali ibn abi Taleb(a). History marks this day as one of the happiest days in the life of the Prophet. When Ali(a) finally got the courage to ask the Prophet for the hand of Fatimah, the Prophet went to his daughter and told her: “Ali ibn Abi Taleb is a person whose closeness to us, his knowledge and his piety is known to you, and I have prayed to God to marry you to the best of His creations, Ali has now asked for your hand in marriage, what is your opinion?” Fatimah whose piety was known to all, said nothing, just turned her face away in silence. Her face did not seem like someone in disagreement, so the Prophet got up and said: “God is the Greatest; her silence is the sign of her satisfaction.” The Prophet knew this was the Will of God, and his thoughts were confirmed by the angel Jibra’il who informed 24
the Prophet that God wants ‘Muhammad to marry his daughter to Ali(a)’. It is said that the Prophet told Ali if you didn’t exist; there would be no one suitable for Fatimah. Ali(a) was not a rich person, so the Prophet set a dowry for her daughter that he was sure Ali(a) would be able to pay. The Prophet married his daughter to Ali(a) with a dowry of 500 silvers. Ali’s coat of mail was worth a lot of money, so his friends took it to the market to sell it for him. The Prophet took the money of the sale, partly as his daughter’s dowry, some were spent buying a new dress for Fatimah and some stuff for the couple’s home and the rest the Prophet gave to Ali(a) to spend on food for the guests at the wedding. The Prophet asked Ali(a) to gather people at the mosque for the marriage ceremony. He himself performed the nikah marriage ceremony. He explained to
Ali(a) how the angel Jibra’il descended on him bearing a message from God that he should marry Fatimah to Ali with 500 pieces of silver and asked him if he was ok with this. Ali(a) replied, “Oh Messenger of God I am happy with this.” The people congratulated the couple and then the Prophet conducted his sermon and performed the wedding ceremony, starting a fruitful union. Earlier in the day the Prophet arranged that a new dress be bought for Fatimah(s) for the wedding ceremony. The same night that the dress was gifted to her, a poor person came to the door and asked for clothes. Fatimah(s)
had two sets of clothing, one a brand new one gifted to her for her wedding and another that she wore and had seen better days. She wanted to give the old dress but she remembered a verse from the Qur’an: “One would not reach the maximum piety if she does not give in charity from what she likes.” (3:92) So she took off her new dress and gave it to the woman. It is said that on the same night, angels came to the Prophet bringing another salutation from God and a gift, but this time it was a salutation for Fatimah(s) and a new dress to replace the one she had given away.l
Illustrator Ghazaleh Kamrani
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
1 - 17 August Islamic Patterns Summer Intensive London Studio Directions has organised a summer school, a 1, 2 or 3 week intensive programme. It is open to students who are new to Islamic patterns, as well as those with some previous experience. Venue: Bow Arts Trust, 183 Bow Rd, London E3 2SJ Time: 10:30 AM - 4:30 PM Fees: £320 - £560 Full details: http://artofislamicpattern. com/courses/summer-schoolintensive/#/0
4 August Zip Wire Challenge 2018 It might be the closest experience you get to flying without going up in an aircraft! Enjoy the thrill of taking on Europe’s fastest and longest zip line at Zip World in Bethesda, North Wales. The funds you raise will go towards supporting our pioneering Children’s Eco Village in Tanzania. Venue: Islamic Help, Balsall Heath, Birmingham, B12 8UR Time:9.00 am - 6.00 pm Registration: £30 Fundraising target: £300 More info: https://www.islamichelp.org. uk/ihzipwire2018/
8 August How To Survive Homeschooling Brooke Benoit is a magazine editor who, dissatisfied with her own
education, originally unschooled herself in the 1980’s. She currently unschools her seven children, preferring the radical democratic or Sudbury-style of home educating. Hear about her experience and meet other like-minded individuals! This is your chance to network with other mums and dads, learn how to look after yourself and have some fun too! Venue: IHRC Bookshop, 202 Preston Road, Wembley, HA9 8PA Time: 2 pm - 4 pm Fee: FREE EVENT / LIMITED SPACES More info: https://www.ihrc.org.uk/ activities/events/18789-how-to-survivehomeschooling-meet-greet-with-brookebenoit/ 10 & 12 August How to Survive This world is full of trials and tribulations. In an ever changing world, Muslims are challenged and exerted in ways like never before. With all the modern day challenges and daily obstacles faced, how do Faith and God help us to maximise our capabilities and strengths? Drawing on Islamic principles and practical advice, this course offers a refreshing insight into not only surviving, but thriving in the maze that is this Dunya. Speaker: Dalia Mogahed Venue: London and Manchester (TBC) Time: 6.00 pm - 9.00 pm Fee: FREE (Reservation compulsory at https://daliamogahedlondon.eventbrite. co.uk) More info: https://www.eventbrite. co.uk/e/how-to-survive-with-ustadhadalia-mogahed-usa-free-londontickets-47518957481
11 August Abseil the Orbit Muslim Hands has a new and exciting challenge for YOU to take part in at London’s iconic ArcelorMittal Orbit at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Descend 80 metres above the ground as you abseil down the UK’s tallest sculpture. Venue: ArcelorMittal Orbit, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 5 Thornton Street, E20 2AD Fee: £20 Fundraising target: 354£ for your very own annual orphan sponsorship More info: https://muslimhands.org.uk/ events/2018/abseil-the-orbit
11-12 August Halal Food Festival A truly global mouth-watering celebration of the world’s most delicious Halal food & drink from over 100 international exhibitors, plus shopping and entertainment for the perfect summer day out. Whether you’re a well-dined halal gourmand, a newfound halal foodie, or are simply looking for a good time with friends and family, there is something for everyone at the London Halal Food Festival. Venue: Tobacco Dock, Tobacco Quay, Wapping Lane, St Katharine’s & Wapping, E1W 2SF Time: 11.00 am - 8.00 pm Fee: £5 - £20 More info: https://www. londonhalalfoodfestival.com/
Summer Sleepover The First ever Summer Sleepover at the Islamic Centre. Activities, BBQ & Outdoor Discussion Circle, FIFA Playstation matches, 5-A-side Football tournament and a lot more. Brothers only. Group 1: 12-16 yrs, Group 2: 17-21 yrs £20 per person (including Activities, Food and ov... more
12 August Leap of Faith, Love: Perspective from a Muslim Woman Love, marriage and family life are arguably the most important milestones of our lives. But they are also a leap of faith – a journey that requires careful planning right from the onset, important decisions at every turn and ongoing perseverance in order to achieve a truly prosperous marriage – success does not come overnight! Speaker: Dalia Mogahed Venue: Bradford (TBC) Time: 12.00 pm - 3.00 pm Fee: FREE (Reservation compulsory) More info: http://www.ukislamicevents. net/#event|leap-of-faith-love-ustadhadalia-mogahed-bradford|10286
16 August Egyptian Feast Chef and cookery writer Anissa Helou serves up an Egyptian meal to remember in this special supper club. The evening celebrates Helou’s forthcoming cookbook, Feast, on food of the Islamic world. Venue: The Mosaic Rooms, Tower House, 226 Cromwell Road, SW5 0SWTime: 7.00 pm Fee: £35 More info: email@example.com / https://mosaicrooms.org/event/ egyptian-feast/
18 August Muslim Women in the Workplace (SISTERS ONLY) Join us for a rich discussion on the challenges and values of Muslim women in the workplace and the ways in which we maintain our Islamic etiquette. Ustadha Ameena Blake will
speak about the topic at hand through an Islamic perspective. Venue: Farringdon, EC1M (venue to be )disclosed only to attendees Time: 2:45 pm – 5:15 pm Fee: £8.45 /More info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e
25 August The Waterfall Trail Take part in an exhilarating and beautiful trek to the top of a waterfall nestled in the beautiful mountainous regions of Wales. Transport is included for all participants from East London only. You will need to meet at the Islamic Help London office off Whitechapel Road. Venue: Islamic Help, 7 Davenant Street, London, E1 5NB Time: 6.15 pm Registration: £30 Fundraising target: £200 More info: https://www.islamichelp.org. uk/waterfall/
31 August Wilderness Survival Day Could you survive a day in the wilderness with nothing but your skills, determination and the natural resources around you? Put yourself to the test with our Wilderness Survival Day, a one-day course which will see you based at a woodland camp and tasked with activities like creating an emergency shelter, foraging for food and lighting fires, all to see if you can make it through the day without cracking. Venue: Islamic Help, 19 Ombersley Rd, Birmingham B12 8UR Time: 6.00 am - 8.00 pm Fee: £30 Min Fundraising: £300 towards Children’s Eco Village in Tanzania. More info: http://www.ukislamicevents. net/#event|wilderness-survival-dayshanaz-asif-birmingham|10154
1 September Animals in the Qur’an (Qur’an Study Group) The Qur’an tells us that animals are living creatures like us. In the narratives of the Qur’an, many animals are mentioned such as the Hoopoe in the story of the Solomon, the snake in the story of Moses, the big fish in the story of Jonah and the dog in the story of the Companions of the Cave. In this seminar, we will contextualise all references to animals mentioned throughout the Qur’an. Venue: Birkbeck University, Malet St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX Time: 9.00 am - 1.00 pm Fee: £15 - £100 More info: info@quranstudygroup. org OR http://www.ukislamicevents. net/#event|animals-in-the-quran-thequran-study-group-london|10241
5 September UK Islamic Finance Week 2018 IFN Europe Forum once again returns to London – this time for a full week in conjunction with leading European regulators, global standard-setters, world leaders and UK and European Islamic finance practitioners. Working closely with the UK authorities and hosted in tandem with the UK government’s annual Global Islamic Financial Investment Group, the event will comprise a full one-day event along with a series of additional events, breakout sessions and focus groups throughout the following week. Venue: Mansion House, Walbrook, London, EC4N 8BH Full Details: http://redmoneyevents.com/ main/event.asp?IFN=london18
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.