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The Curse and the Promise: Religion and Violence Q&As



Question & Answer session  - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - St Martin-in-the-Fields church, Trafalgar Sqaure, London - 2 November 2015 - 35 mins 16 secs - Transcription Pending

Part of the Autumn Lecture Series at St Martin-in-the-Fields, focusing on religion and violence, reflecting upon both how faith can become the cause and perpetrator of conflict and persecution, and also the victim. But can our faith and our understanding of God also provide the promise for the healing of our nations? The lecture series covered the perspective of the three Abrahamic Faiths - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. St Martin-in-the-Fields invited Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad as a guest speaker to explore these themes from the perspectives of the Islamic faith. This is the question and answer session which followed the Shaykh's lecture.

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The Curse and the Promise: Religion and Violence



Lecture - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - St Martin-in-the-Fields church, Trafalgar Sqaure, London - 2 November 2015 - 42 mins 57 secs - Transcription Pending

Part of the Autumn Lecture Series at St Martin-in-the-Fields, focusing on religion and violence, reflecting upon both how faith can become the cause and perpetrator of conflict and persecution, and also the victim. But can our faith and our understanding of God also provide the promise for the healing of our nations? The lecture series covered the perspective of the three Abrahamic Faiths - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. St Martin-in-the-Fields invited Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad as a guest speaker to explore these themes from the perspectives of the Islamic faith.  

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Drawing Closer to Allah



Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 20 November 2015 - 30 mins 28 secs

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In this sermon the Shaykh covers the true meaning of the of the great Hadith Qudsi of Islam named by the ulama as Hadith an-Nawafil. In the Hadith, Allah himself describes to us the divine love and the journey that we must take to draw near to Him. Furthermore, Allah Almighty describes how the journey should progress to result in earning his love. It is an extraordinary blessing that Allah Almighty has given us this opportunity to earn the divine love.  The nawafil (supererogatory) acts of worship, are what really progresses this journey for us, enabling us to make the most of the capacity that has been entrusted to us in this world. This sulook, or spiritual pathway, must be a constant effort to counter the lower desires and make the right choices in life at every moment of our lives. The Shaykh then goes onto describe what it means to be a Wali, the one who Allah truly loves. 

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Honour Thy Neighbour

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 30 October 2015 - 22 mins 24 secs

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'Worship Allah, and do not associate with Him anything, and be good to parents and to kinsmen and orphans and the needy and the close neighbour and the distant neighbour… 
(Sarah An-Nisa, Verse 36)

The Quran and the Hadith emphasise the importance of honouring our neighbours.  Who are our neighbours and what are their rights.  In this sermon the Shaykh explores this fundamental aspect of our Deen which instructs us on how we should conduct ourselves with those around us regardless of their faith. The right relationships with our neighbours is paramount to the building of cohesive communities and to ultimately earn the pleasure of Allah Almighly.

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The Fully Integrated Life

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 9 October 2015 - 25 mins 16 secs

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'Allah bears witness that there is no god except He, and the Angels and the ones endowed with knowledge, upright with equity (bear witness). There is no god except He, The Ever-Mighty, The Ever-Wise...
(Surah al-Imran, Verse 18)

As the new academic year begins the Shaykh talks about how one should approach the balance needed in life, to put everything where it deserves to be put. How should one manage the different influences and complexity of life as a student. How does one find the right balance between what may seem Deen and what may seem Dunya. The Shaykh explains how we must strive for the fully integrated life and shares some useful tips from the works of Hujjat ul-Islam Imam Al-Ghazali.

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Consciousness Beyond Mindfulness

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 30 January 2015 - 22 mins 49 secs

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' O you who have believed, fear Allah. And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow...
(Surah al-Hashr, Verse 18)

The Shaykh talks about the importance of attentiveness and self-awareness. He describes the journey to full consciousness through a process of self accusation. How does the soul ascend beyond the mere mindfulness that has become popular in contemporary secular meditation; to achieve real awareness encompassing the moral dimension, the awareness which underpins sincere Tawbah.

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Purity: Half of Iman

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 5 December 2014 - 21 mins 16 secs

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'…and Allah loves those who purify themselves.
(Surah Tawbah, Verse 108)

In this sermon, the Shaykh explores the importance of purity in Islam. He explores how outward and inward purity is integral to the human psyche and how this relates to morality, right and wrong, and the natural dignity which is unique to humans. The human soul craves that which is pure and thus the soul finds happiness in that which is pure.

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The Straight Path

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 21 November 2014 - 19 mins 47 secs

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'(As for) those who say: Our Lord is Allah, then continue in the right way, the angels descend upon them, saying: Fear not, nor be grieved, and receive good news of the garden which you were promised.
(Surah Fussilat, Verse 30)

In this sermon the Shaykh explores 'Istiqama'. How can we navigate the journey of life and take the path that will give us success; the path of extraordinary blessings; the path of no fear, no grief and the path that will take us ultimately to the promised gardens, God willing. He goes on to identify some of the pitfalls that can lead the human soul to deceive itself and lose its way on the journey.

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Thankfulness to The Bestower

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 7 November 2014 - 20 mins 52 secs

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Allah has given the poor human blessings beyond his power to imagine, yet he finds comfort in ingratitude. Belief is thankfulness (shukr) to the Bestower. The Holy Prophet prayed at night not to atone for some sin, but simply out of a thankfulness so powerful that his tears flowed. Allah’s universe is fine-tuned to support matter and life; we live in the midst of extreme improbability. ‘But few of My servants give thanks.’

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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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Repentance and Muharram

Jum'ah khutba - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 11 November 2013 - 19 mins 13 secs

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'And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.' 
-Surah An-Nūr (The Light)

As another Muharram approaches, in this sermon the Shaykh reminds us of this opportunity for new beginnings. He clarifies the importance of Tawba at this time, and the three conditions that are required in order for the Tawba to be real and thus accepted by Allah All Mighty. He points to the ups and downs of the human condition and the cycles of repentance and wrong doing that the Shaytan loves to take advantage of, in order to drag the soul into despair.

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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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