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The New Hijri Year

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 24 October 2014 - 20 mins 4 secs

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'And whoever migrates in the path of Allah shall find abundant recompense and breadth.
(Surah al-Nisa, Verse 100)

On the last day of the year the Sheikh describes some heroic events in the Sira of the Blessed Prophet, which is divided into the Makkan and the Madinan periods by the Hijra. Unlike the Exodus, which ended with divine punishment, the Hijra brings an age of forgiveness and hospitality and charity. The example of Asma bint Abi Bakr shows Islam’s generosity of spirit, and its complete rejection of the values of the Jahiliyya.

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The Prophetic Gift of Meaning

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 2013 -  21mins 55secs

Say: by the grace of Allah and His mercy, let them rejoice in that, it is better than all that they gather.
Surah Yunus Verse 58

The Sheikh begins this khutba with the verse from Surah Yunus, alluding to the fact that for much of our lives we busy and torment ourselves with the collection of material wealth. This is the source of our agitations and aspirations, but no matter how much we accumulate the heart is left hungry for more of the same, but also for the Divine Other, the only thing that brings nourishment and satisfaction. 

Believer possibly has little in his hand but sees everything that Allah gives him. These are all irreplaceable treasures and jewels. The believer is thus farhan, joyful, because his joy is in Allah's grace and mercy and thus sees everything as a manifestation of His grace. Amongst these joys are are the numberless blessings of this world, those that even if you tried to count them you could not do so. A blessing deeper than these and underpinning them is the ability to connect outward forms to meanings, the ability to make sense of the existence and put ones self in tune with it. Thus the greatest mercy is that of explanation, which brings life to the desert of the heart and satisfies it to the point beyond which music and poetry and all other things can reach.

Of course the perfect embodiment of this wisdom was the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. As the narrations say nobody smiled more than him, which is a sign of his understanding. When we follow him outwardly but also inwardly we can share of this ma'na, this meaning of creation. May Allah give us the grace to follow in the Prophet's footsteps, to receive some of his wisdom and understanding and thus heal our broken hearts. 

Photograph taken in the Mosque and resting place of Sidi Ahmad al-Tijani, Fez, by the CKETC team.

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Dua': Mukh al-'ibada

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 21st June 2013 - 23 mins 59 secs

Do not work corruption in the earth after it has been made rightly. And pray to Him in fear and in hope. Truly Allah's mercy is close to those who show excellence.
Surah al-A'raf verse 56

The Sheikh begins his khutba with the above verse, linking three great phrases together. At the heart of them is this exhortation to supplicate to Him, to make dua', in order to follow the path of the Prophets and feel His closeness. The form of the verb in Arabic indicates that this is a command to make dua', raising the question 'can we operate in our religion without dua'?' As the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said 'Dua is the marrow of worship'. Thus acts of worship and prayer are mere shells without dua', this mukh that the Prophet speaks of.

The great ones of this community have said that we need to have knowledge of God when calling upon Him. When asked why our prayers are not answered, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (may God be pleased with him) said it was because 'you are praying to the One whom you do not know'. To the extent we know Him we can genuinely engage our hearts in prayer, and this knowledge comes from acknowledging and knowing His Oneness and His names.

The Sheikh ends by discussing the intriguing idea that making dua' is an integral part of our spiritual and mental wellbeing. By beseeching God day and night as the Prophet and his followers did entails acknowledging our helplessness, poverty and brokenness before Him. It has been said that 'the best prayer is the one that has been aroused by sadnesses', and thus in contrast to the secular world view sadnesses can be seen as a catalyst for spiritual growth. Indeed the inner dialogue between man and God when done properly can replace and surpass much of the work many people see counsellors for in this day and age when the connection to the Almighty has sadly been lost. May He restore this connection between us and Him, make our hearts present in what our tongues utter and give us satisfaction with His decree.

Photograph taken in an alley adjacent to the Qarawiyyin Mosque, Fez by the CKETC team.

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Beauty and the Sunna

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 30th November 2012 - 14 mins 56secs


'Shall the reward of doing what is beautiful be other than doing what is beautiful?' 
-Surah Ar-Rahman verse 60


In this khutba covering the topic of beauty, the Sheikh begins by noting that the connection linking us to Transcendent is the receptive affirmation of what is beautiful and indicates the Supernatural. To the extent that the sense of beauty, truth and order rules in our hearts, that is how in touch we are with reality. This apprehension is available to any person, no matter how young or unlettered they are. 

Indeed the Sheikh notes that the life of the Prophet was a life lived intensely, passionately and lyrically in response to what is beautiful. As human beings we have two ways to respond to beauty; to turn inwards towards individualism, or outwards from our selves, to engage with the Ultimate. We are between tendency upwards, and the tendency down. Ugliness is always due to the engagement with the nafs, the downward. The arrival of the Prophet on the other hand affirms the universal other, not just of Arabs but of human beings as brothers everywhere. Earlier prophets were sent only to their people, but he was sent to all mankind. This is why his way is a path of beauty, and why the deen was able to spread and flourish so magnificently in the following centuries. 

The Sheikh closes by telling us that the heart craves beauty. The Sharia makes outward judgements, and so inwardly does the soul. We are asked to live our lives making these soulful judgements, to follow those who act beautifully, and surround ourselves with those beautiful things that bring our hearts peace, for as the Qur'an says

'Verily in the remembrance of Allah do the hearts find rest!'
 -Surah Ar-Ra'd verse 28

Calligraphy reading 'He uncovered the darkness by his beauty' from the poem about the Prophet by Shaikh Sa'di, mosque, Istanbul. Taken by the CKETC team.

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Halal Monk

CKETC was recently passed on a link to a developing online resource named 'Halal Monk', which in its own words "has two aims: to be a concrete project of sincere interreligious dialogue and to seek for ways out of the cultural and religious impasse our world seems to be creating". Part of the website includes conversations with various Muslims figures from around the world. These include the transcripts of an interview with Sheikh Abdal Hakim, three of which can be found here:

More interviews will be added as the website develops. 


Hijra, Brotherhood and Nobility

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 23rd November 2012 - 15 mins 37secs

They prefer others to themselves, though theirs be the greater need. And whoever is protected from the avariciousness of his own self; it is they who are successful. 
- Surah Al Hashr verse 9

The Islamic hijri calendar starts with the event that it takes its name from. The Sheikh touches upon some of the reasons why the Hijra, or emigration of Muslims from Mecca to Medina during the time of the Prophet, may Allah's peaces and blessings be upon him, has left such an indelible mark upon the collective Muslim consciousness. 

Hijra is to do with human bonding, the ability of ideas, faith and love to ascend about tribal loyalties. The movement of the Muhajirun, Emigrants to Medina was the beginning of the one of the most remarkable social experiments in history. The Ansar, literally 'Helpers', who had only years before been embroiled in bitter internecine conflicts welcomed these strangers with love, generosity and nobility, giving them half of their houses, lands, fields and possessions. As the Sheikh mentioned this was only possible by the New Moon of Muhammad and the message that he brought. 

Imam al-Qushayri says of the verse above that the believers preferred others as they were detached from material things of this world. Their hostility had been replaced by a powerful belief through the process of tajrid, the stripping away of avarice leaving one free from ones self. True nobility is being free not to do just as we would please but rather being able to control one's lower impulses. This is why the Ansar were truly noble and free, for real nobility is more likely to come from giving than taking, from sacrifice; not from welcoming the sacrifices of others. 

Photo of Sultanahmet Mosque, Istanbul taken on Laylat-ul-Isra' wa Mi'raj by the CKETC team

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The most beautiful of stories

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 2nd November 2012 - 35mins 01secs

"We shall recite unto you the most beautiful of stories in that of which We have revealed in this Qur'an, something of which you were hitherto of those that who do not know"
 Surah Yusuf verse 3

The Sheikh begins the khutba with the above verse from Surah Yusuf. One of the reasons why the Qur'an refers to this as the 'greatest story' is that it is so fecund in terms of messages and meanings for us to reflect on. Not for the first time, the Sheikh focuses on the Surah, this time looking at its take on the states of consciousness and dreams.

Throughout the khutba the Sheikh looks at the various dreams within
 the Surah: the stars and moon bowing to Yusuf (upon him be peace), the dreams of the two men who share a prison cell with the prophet and Pharoah's dreams of seven fat and seven lean cows. Other episodes in the Surah such as the encounter of the brothers with Jacob (upon him be peace) and Yusuf with the Master's wife are also touched upon. Whilst looking at the individual lessons to be learned the Sheikh notes that the common element linking them all together is the idea that there is are alternative higher realities in existence beyond what is empirical.

The Sheikh in his inimitable style then goes on to explore the higher
 vistas of consciousness visited by the purified soul in an exposition covering amongst other things love, beauty, time and astrophysics.

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Photograph above taken in the Selimiye Mosque, Edirne, by the CKETC team

Contentions: whys and wherefores

Circle - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - November 2012 - 1 hour 11 mins 53 secs

In a circle that is bound to interest many, the Sheikh discusses his Contentions, a series of aphoristic statements that he writes, the latest of which may be found here. At the heart of these collections is the relationship between Islam and language. The Islamic perception of language is that it is a vehicle of meaning but also a springboard for a new and intoxicating literature. Historically this has been true; one must look at the poetry of the Turkic and Persian peoples for just a few quick examples of this. Theologically this approach to language is also sound; the Qur'an says that 'among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours'. Not for Islam then the Babelite curse. Every language may be a fully valid means of connecting with the Truth. This is the context within which the Contentions themselves operate. According to the Sheikh they are there to see what Divine indications are supplied by the English language, they hope to be part of a discovery of the luminosity inherent within it. The point is not necessarily to pose a truth but to evoke an atmosphere. Like our poetry they are closer to music than prose conveying truth claims.

The Sheikh ends the circle by talking about the following contentions in the eleventh set:

10: The Liber Asian vs. The Manu Mission: a woman may be Arahat on Arafat

21. Anthropomorphism is gender-biased

38. If you have not seen the saint, you have not seen the sunna 

For a full commentary of the whole set written by the Sheikh himself please visit the Quilliam Press website here. A most worthy addition to any library! 

Photo of muqarnas taken in the Alhambra Palace by the CKETC team. It has been argued that the muqaras were themselves inspired by the occasionalist theology that the Sheikh mentions so often in this circle.

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The Singularity of Intention and Will

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - October 2012 - 27mins 39secs

'Do not push aside those who call upon their Lord morning and night desiring His Face...'
Surah Al-Kahf, verse  28

The Sheikh begins this khutba with this ayah, which touches on the key Qur'anic concept of irada and niyya, will and intention. A 'key counterbalance to excessive exteriority', these principles are the gateways the Almighty uses to judge our actions in this earthly realm. Famously Imam Bukhari begins his great corpus of Sahih Hadith with the foundational narration starting "actions are by intentions".

Quite often when discussing intentions, the idea of sincerity is mentioned, a translation of ikhlas. Whilst this translation is common, the Sheikh points out that ikhlas can be defined not simply as sincerity but rather as a purification of an entity to its most singular essence. Thus in this context the believer is asked to have a singularity of intention in all his or her affairs.

Judgement is not by ones goods and wealth but with, as the Qur'an says a sound heart, qalbin saleem. As Imam Ghazali notes one can't have singularity of intention without having a sound heart. The uproarious tumult of our desires doesn't settle just because we simply want to have a pure intention. This comes only with the purification of the heart, for as the Qur'an says "truly he succeeds that purifies it".

Photo of the grave of Umm Haram, known as Hala Sultan taken at the Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca, Cyprus by the CKETC team.

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Universality and Particularity

Talk - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 18th June 2012 - 45mins 38secs

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds!
Qur'an, Al-Fatiha, Verse 1 

Islam is not just a large religion, it is religion at large. "I am sent to all mankind" 
Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Contentions 16:95 
  
As British society agonises over cases of prejudice against ethnic minorities in this supposedly post-racist age the universalising message of Islam is a much welcome one. The Sheikh discusses this message, why classical Islamic civilisations were able to be so diverse.

 One reason may be that the Qur'an, unlike the Bible, is not about the continuity of a people but rather principles. It is not about the drama of a people, not a Judaism of the Arabs. The Islamic story begins with Abraham and Hagar rather than one of his descendents, echoed in the central rites of Hajj. the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and the Arabs are of Semitic lineage but also from the gentile Hagar, something that calls on Islam to be a message for the world, not one particular tribe. This is noted in the language of the Qur'an itself: when Arab is mentioned it usually denotes the language rather than the people. Classically in Maliki law an Arab is one who can speak the language well, rather than one who has a certain set of genes. If anything the Qur'an disparages 'it's people', the contemporary Arabs as they were they propagators of the jahiliyya that Islam came to destroy. Thus the Sheikh notes that Abraham is the forefather of a universalism that co-exists with particularism. Most Islamic cities were incredibly heterogenous, yet the set of core practices remained stable and familiar. The sacred law itself is race-blind, and so whilst we have a legitimate claim to belong to the culture of our ancestors, we also know that this matters not to the Heavenly Judge in terms of proximity to Him in this life and the next.

Picture of a courtyard in the Alcazar, Seville. Taken by the CKETC team

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The Scholarship of the Indian Subcontinent

Talk - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - London - 23rd June 2012 - 32mins 43secs

The Sheikh gave the opening lecture at the event entitled 'The Reviver and Spiritual Physician: Shaykh Ashraf Ali Thanawi'. The illuminating talk outlined the development of scholarship in the subcontinent from the early 8th century period of Muhammad b. Qasim to that of Maulana Ashraf himself in the modern era. 

The event itself was organised by Turath Publishing and Huma Press, and associated with others mentioned at the start of the video. 

 

Reflections after the Summer Stroll

Talk - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 24th June 2012 - 14mins 20secs

After this year's Summer Stroll fundraising event for the new Cambridge Mosque the Sheikh offered a few thoughts after spending some time in Cambridgeshire's countryside. He began by noting that iman, faith, is the entity that connects and binds us to Reality, as it involves the internalising and experiencing of the principle of Tawhid. Thus our becoming monotheists involves not only mental function but also the life of the heart. We have to allow the heart to see things, just as the Qur'an describes the heart as something that sees. This is how we heal the painful divide between the ghayb and shahada, what is hidden and what is seen. Engaging in nature is engaging in this effort, a wisdom the Qur'an sends for this time when we the world seems stuck in a solely positivistic viewing of the creation. This iman makes the Muslim at home anywhere, as he knows where he is going, where he has been and what the purpose of existence is. This, the Sheikh prposes, is one of the meanings of the Prophet's words, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, 'for me, the whole earth has been made a mosque, and made pure'. 

The image above is a scale model of the proposed Cambridge mosque revealed at a pre-planning exhibition on September 7th, 2011

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Balance in the World

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - June 2012 - 26mins 22secs

Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of Night and Day, - indeed there are signs for men of understanding. 
Surah Al-Imran verse 190

The Sheikh began this beautiful khutba with the above verses that allude to one of the key activities we are commanded to partake in; fikr. This is not surface thought but deep reflection with the substance that makes up the core of man, variously described as the qalb, ruh, nafs or in this verse as the lubb. This translates as the core, or seed of the human being and as the Sheikh points out it needs to sprout and grow, but can only do so with the water of Divine remembrance.

Part of this fikr is about contemplating creation, intuiting that the beauty in nature is not an end in and of itself but something that points to the Jameel. Just as everything praises and exalts the Creator, and states its absolute dependence on Him, human beings are likewise commanded to do the same; "the Source wants us to be part of this cosmic symphony".

Unfortunately humanity has an ability to forget, ignore or manipulate the wonders of Creation. Changing the signposts or milestones is a serious offence in Sharia, and it is arguably an even more grievous offence when we tamper with the Signs of this world. Instead of reading the ayat of creation we plunder the earth's resources and treasures for a relative pittance. As the examples of 'Ad and Thamud show there is only a limited amount of time we are given before Allah's punishment is met for the violation of His creation and order.

Picture taken in the Master's Garden, Selwyn College by the CKETC team

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Gold and Eternality

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - June 2012 - 25mins 12secs

Lo! That which ye are promised will surely come to pass, and ye cannot escape.
Surah al-An'am verse 134

The Sheikh used this khutba to talk about the dual nature of Gold, which acts in this dunya as a potent force in and of itself, and also functions as a symbol of the two paths that we may take in this life towards the hereafter.

He began with the above ayah, one meaning of which hints at the 'worst kept secret in this dunya; that our lives will end.'  Oftentimes we construct mountains of wealth and barricades of gold as a protection from the reality of death. As an element and metal gold is precious, unchanging, lasting. The Children of Adam, the Sheikh notes, think that perhaps gold might imbue some of these qualities in them, thus averting them from the finality that they fear most.

The negative aspect of gold, or its pursuit is shown in the stories of the Israelites, that 'show what we can be when we are our best and our worst'. Moses, upon him be peace, left his people after they were shown great favour by the Almighty, towards Sinai. He took the solitary and steep road towards God, whilst they left him spiritually, symbolised by the constructing of the empty idol of gold. The pulling between the paths is echoed in our own lives, and whilst we are torn between the two we gain neither true comfort nor pleasure from either.

The Sheikh then goes onto show the other facet of gold's nature. Gold is incorruptible, pure, luminous like the sun and as such functions as the 'mineral of Allah'. This is brilliantly shown in the mosques on the temple mount in Jerusalem. The iconic golden Dome of the Rock is an apt symbol for the mi'raj; its resplendent light symbolising the presence of God, with the fitting counterpoint of the silver dome of al-Aqsa representing the Prophet dispersing that light, much as the moon reflects the light of the sun. The khutba ends with a hadith that invites us to seek the higher meaning and benefit in the gold and wealth that so many strive for in this world:

Oh Son of Adam, do you own any of your property except that which you eat and pass out, that which you wear and you wear it out, that you give in sadaqah and you make it eternal?

Picture taken in the Mosque of Cordoba by the CKETC team

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