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Poverty & Riches

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - 30 October 2009 - Cambridge - 22 mins 30 secs

The Prophet Muhammad (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) famously prayed to be resurrected among the masakin (poor, downtrodden, oppressed), but what does it mean to be miskin and what was the prophetic attitude to poverty or hardship? In this sermon, Sheikh Abdal Hakim outlines the Qur'anic and prophetic description of the poor (fuqara') and shows why it is important not to be afraid of poverty as we often are today. This is not because it is necessarily a good thing in itself to be poor, or on the other hand a bad thing to be rich or powerful, but because of the beauty and dignity of cultivating reliance on Allah whatever one's outward state.

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The Story of Solomon

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 27 November 2009 - 25 mins 08 secs

In this sermon, Sheikh Abdal Hakim examines the role of stories in the Holy Qur'an. On one level these can seem simply entertaining or even fanciful, but within the stories are contained deep and important truths. This sermon focuses in particular on the story of Sulayman/Solomon (peace be upon him), whose miracles and power over different aspects of creation - by the grant of Allah - seem almost incredible, but which point to fundamental aspects of the relationship between the outward and the inward.

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Twlight of the Islamosaurs

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Oxford - 6 November 2004 - 50 mins 33 secs

As an early Eid present, here's a talk recorded five years ago by Oxford University ISoc and preserved over on IslamOnline.net. It's not one for the audio purists unfortunately but we've done our best. It's definitely worth a listen for Sheikh Abdal Hakim's perceptive and invigorating review of the history of Islamism. Through this reading, he makes an analysis of some of the most fundamental aspects of the umma's reaction to modernity and its current state. As a counter-point to these sobering reflections, he also offers some optimistic thoughts on the future. May you all have a blessed Eid inshaAllah, and may Allah accept the efforts of all this year's pilgrims.

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Marriage & Family Life

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 6 November 2009 - 24 mins 05 secs

In this sermon, Sheikh Abdal Hakim discusses the significance of marriage as a prophetic sunna, and how family life relates to internalising the seeking of Allah's pleasure and the practice of His religion.

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An Appeal From Cambridge

As-salaam 'alaykum wa-rahmat Allah wa-barakatuh.

As you all may know, we are raising money here in Cambridge to build the first purpose built mosque in this historic and prestigious city, which will accommodate the rapidly growing community here. Thanks to Allah, we have the land and we have a design for a beautiful and inspirational building. Now we reaching the stage of construction, and we need YOUR help to raise the necessary funds.

Historically, wherever Muslims have travelled, Islam has become embedded in the spiritual and cultural life of the local society. Whether the Muslims became the majority or not, the message they were blessed to bear ennobled and enlightened each place. For that to happen in the UK, we need mosques in towns like Cambridge and to support leaders like Sheikh Abdal Hakim.

You can help in at least these three ways:

1) Donate - whatever you can give will help. You can donate by credit card, cheque, standing order or bank transfer, and Just Giving will be added soon inshaAllah. Can you spare even just £1 or $1.50 - not even the cost of a cup of coffee - for each download you have made or will make? If each of you donated just that much, we could raise tens of thousands of pounds.

2) Spread the word - about the mosque project and about this site. Please tell all your contacts about the free downloads they can get here and encourage them to donate. Just one minute writing an email may be rewarded inshaAllah!

3) Pray for the success of the project - inna Allah mujib al-da'wat, so please pray for the Muslims of Cambridge and for the success of the mosque building project.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said that, 'Whoever builds a mosque, desiring thereby Allah's pleasure, Allah builds for him the like of it in Paradise'. So please, for the sake of Allah and out of love for the religion of His Beloved and Final Messenger, help us in whatever way you can.

For those of you who have already donated or helped this project in any way, and to those who will in the future, thank you. May Allah reward you all and bless you.

The CKetc team

P.S. We've got more great content for the site coming up soon inshaAllah - inspirational khutbas and a MP3 of a talk from several years ago intriguingly entitled 'The Twilight of the Islamosaurs' - so check back soon!

Society & Solitude: Part 2

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 10 November 2009 - 56 mins 07 secs

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In this talk, Sheikh Abdal Hakim elaborates on some of the themes of a previous talk, discussing here the importance of companionship (suhba). He reads from a letter on the subject by Sheikh Sharafuddin b. Yahya Maneri, known as Makhdoom Sahib, a noted saint of the 13th century CE who lived in the Bihar region in India and was among the great spiritual leaders who brought Islam to what is today north-east India and Bangladesh. Sheikh Sharafuddin's letters were compiled by his students and studied ever since as an inspirational source of spiritual guidance. With reference to this letter on suhba, from the collection known as the Hundred Letters, Sheikh Abdal Hakim talks about the nature of suhba, and its importance for the individual and society, in particular for the relationship between the generations.

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The Charity of Love

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - London - 9th November 2009 - 12 mins 05 secs

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In this talk, given at an fundraising event as part of the Islamic Help Orphans Tour, Sheikh Abdal Hakim discusses the motives behind giving charity. He mentions the particular quality and blessing of charity given out of love for Allah and out of gratitude to Him, rather than out of guilt, pride or any other cause; and he highlights the importance for the ummah - before any other of the many social, economic, or political revolutions Muslims are devoting themselves to in the hope of renewing their communities - of a revolution of love.

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Where Is The Love?

Talk by Sheikh Jamal ud-Deen Hysaw - Cambridge - 21st October 2009 - 58 mins 56 secs

Cambridge was blessed recently with a visit by Sheikh Jamal ud-Deen Hysaw, who was here in the UK giving a series of talks in aimed at the addressing the issues faced by specifically by young people. Sheikh Jamal ud-Deen hails from Chicago in the USA, and has studied for almost a decade in Damascus and Tarim. In this talk, he addresses the perennial question of relationships and gender, and gives the perspective of traditional knowledge on some modern conundrums.

Watch this talk at likeMEDIA.tv

The Mantle Adorned: Imam Busiri's Burda

The Mantle Adorned: Imam Bûsîrî's Burda, translated, with further poetic ornaments, by Abdal Hakim Murad. Quilliam Press, 2009.

A new English translation of the celebrated Poem of the Cloak (Qasidat al-Burda) by Imam Busiri (may Allah be pleased with him) is now available. With calligraphy by Betül Kırkan and illumination by Ersan Perçem, the beautiful production of this edition reflects the esteem in which the poem is held, as well of course as its high purpose, the remembrance and honouring of God's Beloved and Final Messenger, Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Sheikh Abdal Hakim's translation renders the poem in beautiful and moving English in a parallel text alongside the original Arabic. In addition, each verse is followed by lines from other poets - classical and modern, and from many parts of the world - echoing and amplifying its theme, encouraging the reader to reflect on its meanings more fully.

Published by Quilliam Press, with typography by Abdallateef Whiteman, this edition is available from Central Books, online Islamic bookstores or on Amazon.

UPDATE: There is now a separate site about The Mantle Adorned here, with more information about its content, the people who contributed to it and where you can buy it.

The Chivalry of Youth

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 23 October 2009 - 23 mins 48 secs

It often seems that our society locates human perfection at a certain age - children and younger people are only becoming it, older people are considered past it. Here Sheikh Abdal Hakim discusses how people of every age have a divinely ordained station appropriate to them, and in particular the characteristics young people can aspire to.

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Love for Allah's Decree

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 16 October 2009 - 21 mins 44 secs

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In this sermon, Sheikh Abdal Hakim discusses the difference between having patience (sabr) during the struggles of life, and taking pleasure or having contentment (rida') in them. By Allah's Mercy, accepting what He decrees with patience for us is a route to salvation, but it is a higher degree for us to embrace and love that decree. By another inspiring aspect of Allah's guidance, the latter is initially harder but actually makes the path toward Him easier. Instead of religion just being a set of duties or things we have to put up with, it becomes an on-going source of wonder and contentment. May Allah grant us the state of being contented with His Decree.

NB The first 2-3 minutes of this recording are disrupted by noise from a game of squash taking place next to the room in which the prayer was held this week. Apologies for this unavoidable acoustic infelicity.

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Thoughts on Evangelical Christianity

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Alquería des Rosales, Spain - 29 June 2009 - 34 mins 12 secs

In this talk, Sheikh Abdal Hakim offers some thoughts on the increasingly assertive evangelical trend in Christianity, and how Muslims can constructively repsond to it. He emphasises firstly the importance of the Qur'anic principle of responding with what is better, and not being dragged into the abusive slanging matches so often sadly seen on Internet discussion fora and elsewhere. He then outlines some of the important points of discussion that can be had with committed Christians who want to engage in respectful dialogue. These points include: the importance in all religious traditions of God's love for the poor and outcast, and the problems of being identified with worldly, especially military, power; the importance of respecting that the Divine Love makes redemption available throughout history, not only during a defined period; and the need to deconstruct the stereotype often imposed upon Muslims (as on Jews in the past) as being legalistic. As the sheikh points out, the Muslim theology which considers God, while the source of Justice, as absolutely free in His Love and Mercy to forgive who He chooses seems a lot less legalistic than a theology that considers mankind's sinfulness a debt that He must collect.

Many thanks to Zak Whiteman for sending this in, jazahu Allah kheir.

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Muslim Identity In Europe


Talk by Prof. Tariq Ramadan - 7 October 2009 - Cambridge - 38 mins 44 secs


Prof. Ramadan recently gave the first CMC Lecture for Cambridge Muslim College at an event organised in association with Trinity Hall Islamic Society. You can listen to the lecture here.

Avoiding Hypocrisy

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - 9th October 2009 - Cambridge - 23 mins 57 secs

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At the beginning of another new academic year here in Cambridge, Sheikh Abdal Hakim takes the opportunity to remind himself and us of the importance of going back to first principles. In particular, he considers the very beginning of Surat Baqara and analyzes how we can actualise our belief with sincerity and avoiding being on the wrong side of the line that divides the believer from the hypocrite.

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Prophetic Manners

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 7th August 2009 - 34 mins 19 secs

Eid Mubarak! May Allah accept it from you and from us. Insha-Allah a recording of the Eid khutba is imminent, but in the meantime here's something from a few weeks ago to tide us over.

In this khutba the Sheikh illustrates the high Islamic principle of adab (loosely translated as 'manners') with examples drawn from the rich tapestry of prophetic stories woven into the Qur'an. We learn how Ayyub (Job) is exiled from his loved ones, how Ibrahim (Abraham) receives unexpected desert visitors, how Isa (Jesus) is questioned over that which others ascribe to him, how Musa (Moses) was met with unexpected rewards in exile, may Allah be pleased with them all. These ancient examples of profound adab before a breakthrough moment is what we are called on to emulate in this present day and age.

Of course such a khutba would not be complete without mentioning the last of the emissaries of Allah - after the tribulations of Taif, the death of his uncle and patron, his wife, his son and the persecution of his enemies, Prophet Muhammad - may Allah grant him His blessings and peace - was able to say "O Allah, I ask that you do not change your decree, but that you be gentle with it". This is the maqam an-nubuwwa, the station of prophethood.

Allahumma la as'aluka radda-l qada', lakinni as'aluka lutfa fih

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Ramadan Redux

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Hounslow - 12 September 2009 - 1 hr 1 min 41 secs

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In a second Ramadan talk, Sheikh Abdal Hakim revisits the blessings of the month, may we all benefit from its closing days.

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Miracles of Badr

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 11 September 2009 - 30 mins 53 secs

In this sermon, the sheikh relates some of the miracles that occured during the battle of Badr, and what we can learn from them. On that historic day - the anniversary of which, 17th Ramadan, fell just a few days ago - the Muslims' apparent weakness was the key to their victory, since their awareness of their dependence on Allah and their trust in Him was accentuated to a remarkable degree; and through that trust they also had true thankfulness to Him. The sheikh goes on to relate the story of Badr to another aspect of the blessed month of Ramadan, Laylat al-Qadr. May we imitate the experience of Badr as far as possible by translating our experience of weakness and humility in the month of fasting into greater awareness of and thankfulness to Allah.

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'Fasting Is Mine'

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Peterborough - 22 August 2009 - 1hr 4 mins 40 secs

In this talk, Sheikh Abdal Hakim shares some thoughts on the beginning of the blessed month of Ramadan. He focuses in particular on the famous hadith qudsi in which Allah says 'Fasting is mine'. May all of you out there have a blessed and uplifting month, and may your fasting be accepted inshaAllah. Please remember us here in Cambridge in your prayers, and keep circulating these talks to all your friends and encourage them to donate to the building of Cambridge mosque at this special time of year!


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Lessons of Khwaja Ubayd Allah Ahrar

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Warwick - 8 August 2009 - 47 mins 48 secs

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In this talk, Sheikh Abdal Hakim shares some lessons from the life and example of Khwaja Ubayd Allah Ahrar (806-895 AH), a great saint of Samarkand and sheikh of the Naqshbandi tariqa, may Allah be pleased with him. Among the excellent qualities of that saint of his time, those highlighted here are his consistent humility and instinct to attribute the best to others; his constant remembrance of Allah and his consequent perception of spiritual opportunity in apparently unlikely circumstances; his tireless service to others and the openness of heart that resulted from it; and his noteworthy courtesy and respect even for those with whom he had a difference of opinion. Through contemplating the example of this great saint, and others, Sheikh Abdal Hakim encourages himself and us to remember the importance of personal development and transformation by means of the perfected message given to us through thr Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). The Way of the Chosen One is too profound, too precious to be reduced only to formalities and rules, however important they are in conjunction with inward good character.

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'Beauty upon all things'

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 24 July 2009 - 25 mins

In this sermon, the sheikh relates a hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) in which he said that 'Allah has prescribed ihsan (doing or causing beauty/good) upon all things', and related this to the slaughter of animals. The sermon continues with an explanation of the meaning of this hadith, and the significance of the juxtaposition of the performance of good or beautiful things with an act about which we often feel squeamish at best.


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Two Emigrations

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - date unknown - 20 mins 40 secs

In this sermon, the sheikh relates parts of the stories of the migration of Musa (peace be upon him) and his people from Egypt to Palestine, and of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Companions from Mecca to Medina. The two stories are of course very well known, but with every re-telling they offer new lessons and inpsiration. Here the two stories are told and compared once more, may Allah allow us to benefit from them.



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Outward Compassion, Inward Rigour

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - 16 June 2005 - Cambridge - 1 hr 35 mins 56 secs

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In this talk, the sheikh discusses the role of the shari'a and the ulema in our age. We are closer now to the time when, in the words of the well-known hadith, a person who does one-tenth of what is prescribed will be saved. It is an age when we fear that being too demanding in our religion will drive people away from it, yet without steadfastness and scrupulousness we risk being swamped by the demands and temptations of modernity. The sheikh discusses how people of genuine knowledge resolves this tension by being gentle and compassionate with others and helping them see the Mercy of Allah, glorified and exalted is He; but at the same time themselves practising and worshipping with rigour and discipline. In this of course, they have the supreme example in the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), who was a mercy to the worlds and in his daily life the most generous and hospitable of men; but who in his own behaviour and worship was the most ascetic and self-denying. Sadly many people today act in the opposite away, and so by ostensibly (and often ostentatiously) calling people toward good they actually subvert the real role of religion in people's lives. In the second half of the talk, the sheikh discusses the life and work of Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, who notably embodied the wisdom of being attuned to the needs of the age. Born in Baghdad in 736 AH (1335 CE), he lived in a society still traumatised by the aftermath of the Crusades and even more so by the Mongol invasions. He exemplified the work of the real ulema whose teaching and preaching was a source of healing and comfort to those around him. May Allah reward him and protect the people of knowledge who live among us today.

Please don't be put off by the faint sounds in the background coming from another room (including apparently a choir practice!). Such is life in Cambridge!

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Society & Solitude

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - 12 June 2009 - Cambridge -1 hr 12 mins 44 secs

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We often feel the need to 'get away from it all', an impulse which seems to reflect a strange paradox of modern society. On the one hand, we can be overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of daily life, always part of a busy crowd. Yet at the same time, are we truly connected to what is around us? Or are we somehow cut off from a genuine relationship with our environment and fellow human beings, always 'alone in the crowd'? In this talk, the sheikh reflects on the spiritual importance of solitude, and discusses how to cultivate the inner sense of stillness and realisation it can bring. But he also reminds us that this cannot be achieved at the cost of actually cutting ourselves off from society. Rather it should be enhanced by channelling it to transform our relationships with those around us, following the incomparable example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) whose mission began in the solitude of the Cave of Hira but which continued in the upliftment of his people and all of mankind.

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Travels, Tests & Intentions

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim - Cambridge - 5 June 2009 - 20 mins 37 secs

At a time of year when many of us are planning a summer trip, this sermon relates to the theme of travel in the Qur'an and hadith. The sheikh reminds us that, as with all actions, the most important aspect of travelling is forming a clear intention. The scholars have divided travel into that which takes us away from something disliked or toward something desirable and beneficial for us. The rich history in Muslim cultures connecting travel and the search for sacred knowledge is of course paradigmatic in this respect. The Qur'an also encourages to consider the example of the ancient civilisations that came before and how they declined - something we can easily do today to make what otherwise would be meaningless tourism an experience that can bring us closer to the reality of creation. Even the process of travelling, can be a means to refine the character and increase in remembrance of God. Just a simple train ride or a wait in an airport lounge takes us out of our comfortable daily routine and can therefore raise our consciousness of our surroundings. In these ways, the sheikh explains, what might otherwise be a simple summer holiday can become a form of guidance and upliftment inshaAllah.

(Hopefully you will notice an improvement in the sound quality of this recording compared to previous postings, since alhamdulilah we have started using a better recorder. There are still older recordings we will post over time, but inshaAllah anything new recorded will be of higher quality.)

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'To every people a guide'

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 29 May 2009 - 26 mins 40 secs

Islam is often perceived as an exclusive religion, dividing humanity into believers and non-believer. It is true that that the Divine Message of the Qur'an is rigorously uncompromising in its demand for a clear distinction between right and wrong, truth and falsehood. But, as the sheikh reminds us in this sermon, these divisions do not necessarily correspond to divisions between different religious groups. Muslim does not always mean right, and non-Muslim wrong, although we often act is if they do. Discussing the Christians of Najran, the response of Waraqa b. Nawfal to the Prophet Muhammad's message (peace and blessings be upon him), and other examples, the sheikh elaborates on this important aspect of the Qur'anic message. Perhaps uniquely among ancient scriptures, the Qur'an asserts the correct belief of more than one religious community. The sheikh also touches on the role of Khadija (may God be pleased with her), Waraqa's cousin and of course the Prophet's first confidant and follower; thus highlighting another compelling aspect of the Prophet's mission which the ummah could do so much more to bring alive today.

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Hypocrisy & Sincerity

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 22 May 2009 - 23 mins 39 secs

In this sermon, the sheikh relates a hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) about the qualities that indicate hypocrisy (nifaq) in someone's heart: telling lies, breaking promises, distorting the truth in an argument and breaking one's pledge. He highlights the seriousness of these faults because of God's command to be among the people of truth and sincerity (sidq), and discusses how they can affect us in everyday life.

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Religious Freedom & the Sunna

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - June 2008 - 1 hr 18 mins 17 secs

In this talk, the sheikh discusses the role in the modern world of following the sunna ('example', 'practice') of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). He begins by analysing the fragmentation of the modern world, in which different aspects of human existence and even of an individual are disconnected from each other. As humanity learns more and more about the material details of our existence, there seems to be a correlating reduction in our real understanding of the overall meaning of creation and our place in it. Yet how can we find an antidote to this in the practice of the Prophetic sunna, which, superficially at least, is concerned with the very fine details of our day-to-day life? The sheikh explains the importance firstly of the fact that it is a source of harmony by allowing us to integrate our outward and inward states and conform both to the fundamental reality of our existence. Secondly, the sunna is a shelter and liberation from the imprisonment with which our uncultivated egos (nafs) and desires (hawa') threaten us. To the modern eye, trained to judge only by the criterion of personal freedom, limiting oneself to a prescribed type of behaviour seems a surefire route to misery and repression. Yet what real freedom is there in living according to the unrelenting demands of the nafs, which will always push for more and more because any apparent happiness it finds in transitory acts is just as fleeting? Unfortunately, for many of us religion has become just another way of acting out the hyperactive impulses of our unquiet souls. But, the sheikh reminds us, its real function is just the opposite - a route to inner contentment (sakina) and thereby freedom.

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More Good Links

For those of you who might not have seen them, two lectures very worthwhile checking out:

- Sheikh Abdal Hakim on 'America as a Jihad State', delivered at King's College in London a fortnight or so ago

- Sheikh Hamza Yusuf penetrating analysis of the social costs of pornography, given at Princeton University late last year

Sincerity & Salvation

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - date unknown - 23 mins 32 secs

In this sermon, the sheikh discusses another aspect of the different hadiths that emphasise how apparently straight-forward it is to achieve salvation through the simple testimony of God's Uniqueness and Unity. He explains the significance of putting this testimony into action by bearing witness to it through word as well as deed, and hence the relationship between ikhlas ('sincerity') and khalas ('delivery' or 'salvation').

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Restraint in an Age of Excess

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutbah) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 8 October 2004 - 26 mins 12 secs

In this sermon, the sheikh relates a sound hadith in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that what he feared most for his community was the following of the uncontrolled urges of gluttony and lust. Although we often hear important warnings in sermons and elsewhere against the influence of the sad and tawdry modern culture of immodesty and sexual permissiveness, less attention is paid to the greedy and dysfunctional attitude toward food that the Western monoculture promotes. Yet not only is it a problem against which the the Blessed Prophet strongly warned us (peace be upon him), but one which is increasingly and obviously widespread among Muslims. The sheikh therefore reminds us of the importance of the prophetic virtue of restraint, which has so many important benefits, both spiritual and physical, and discusses how we can attempt to imitate it.

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The Prophet and the Reckoner


Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - date unknown - 23 mins 3 secs

The Sheikh begins with the name of Allah ‘the Reckoner’; one of the “banners under which caravan of Prophethood triumphs”. Prophets have always repeated the maxim ‘Allah is our sufficiency and a best guardian is He’. These figures are the best exemplars of the trait of reliance as they stake the most, lost the most, risk the most, are hated the most and are loved the most. This khutba looks at the events that occurred at the genesis of our faith and how the Prophet, peace be upon him, dealt with his tremendous early test.

Even before formal Islam the Prophet was disenchanted with this world, his heart responsive to the poor and downtrodden. His purity of heart was rewarded with the righteous dream, and after nights of tahannuth – worshipping in the cave of Hira – was met with the Angel of Revelation. The impact of the uncreated Word brought from the unimaginably higher realm left his heart shaken, only to be comforted by his wife Khadija, Allah be pleased with her: “You uphold the ties of family. You give to the poor. You endure misfortunes. You honour your guests. You help other people when the misfortunes decreed by heaven descend. Allah will never humiliate you.” Indeed her cousin Waraqa b. Nawfal was to go further: “This is the namus (in Greek Nomos; the angel come bearing the law) that Allah sent down upon Moses…If only I were a young man again, alive on the day when they drive you out. Never does anybody come with that which you are coming with without being opposed. And if I live to that day, I will support you”.

Clearly the Messenger of Allah was tested with something that will never be visited upon his community; the sheer weight of revelation being cast into his breast by his otherworldly visitor. There are many lessons we can derive from the way he dealt with this shaking, not least of all his turning to the seemingly weak and disenfranchised for assistance and succour. The Sheikh ends with some wise words: “although we can never achieve his status we can still engage in his imitation as he was a basharun mithluna, a man like us. Human perfection does not mean that human beings are no longer human”.

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The Paradox of Forgiveness

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - date unknown - 26 mins 43 secs

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In this sermon, the sheikh discusses the Divine Attributes of Justice and Forgiveness, and how we can understand the relationship between these two apparently contradictory qualities. We know that God Almighty will manifest both His Justice and His Forgiveness absolutely on the Last Day without compromising either, because He transcends our comprehension. But how can we act upon His Divine Commands to enforce justice or grant forgiveness when they seem to conflict? The sheikh explains how we can try to overcome this through the perfect example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). In the Qur'an, the Prophet is enjoined 'Keep to forgiveness, command what is right and turn away from the ignorant' (7:199). Thus, although he strove to secure justice for others, especially the weak, the prophet in many instances when he himelf had been wronged set aside the case for strict justice and chose forgiveness. Through the profound and subtle wisdom granted to him by God, therefore, the Prophet exemplified the resolution of this apparent paradox, and guided us toward a clearer understanding of the Divine Guidance.

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Sincerity & Intention

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - date unknown - 22 mins 08 secs

In this sermon, the sheikh discusses the importance of differentiating between appearances and real value, and how to do so. It is true that Muslims are supposed to take care of their appearance and deportment, but as a famous invocation (dua') of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) reminds us, our inner character is more important than our outer appearance. The danger is that we can become distracted not just by the apparent nature of others, but - more importantly - by the success of our own reputation and outward deeds. The sheikh reminds us of the fundamental importance of clarifying our own intentions and sincerity to avoid this, mentioning several sound hadith (prophetic sayings) as well as the story of the Bosnian bear.

Sincere apologies from us at cketc for the delay between posts, due in various cases to the upcoming exam season, a thesis deadline and work. We will try to do better, God willing. Your prayers for our success would be very welcome indeed.

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Purpose of the Sacred Law

Talk by Sheikh Jihad Hashim Brown - Cambridge - 2 March 2009 - 1 hr 34 mins 45 secs

Earlier this month, Cambridge benefited from the visit of Sheikh Jihad Hashim Brown, the well-known scholar and speaker, currently acting as Director of Research at the Tabah Foundation in Abu Dhabi. In this talk, he considers the ethical purposes of the shari'a (Islamic law) and how by connecting with its fundamental meanings and rich heritage we can act to help ourselves and those around us. As he reminds us at one point by relating a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), 'God does not cease to assist His slave as long as His slave does not cease to assist his brother'. In a rich and thought-provoking talk - as you would expect from someone in regular contact with some of the wisest scholars of our time, such as Mufti 'Ali Juma'a and Sheikh 'Abd Allah b. Bayyah - the sheikh discusses how the dynamic and profound techniques of the shari'a can be used to address the problems of the modern world and bring it back into harmonious submission to the order of creation. It is well-known that the root meaning of shari'a is 'a path to water', a route back to the substance of life. The sheikh reminds us, however, of the necessity of uncovering this water of the Divine Guidance through istinbat (to open up or tap a source of water, as in digging a well). Only through active engagement with the tools of our tradition can we use them to address the questions around us today and thereby promote its fundamental aims for humanity.

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Mevlidi Sherif

Cambridge and Oxford, 13th and 11th March respectively

Assalamu 'alaikum,

"Allah and His angels send blessing on the Prophet; O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him and salute him with all respect".

Surah al-Ahzab Verse 56 [Abdullah Yusuf Ali]

Last week - during the month of Rabi al-Awwal - millions of Muslims around the world raised themselves singly and in gatherings of tens, hundreds and thousands to praise the Messenger of Allah Muhammad, peace be upon him, his family and his companions. For it was on a Monday, on the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal that al-Mustafa - the chosen one - was brought into this world to change it and our hearts forever. He was sent to all peoples and thus praise of him - peace be upon him - echoes from voices heard around the world. The scholastic cities of Oxford and Cambridge both joined in this wave of rejoicing in gatherings wonderfully expressive of the love Muslims have for he who is most beloved of Allah.

Cambridge

Cambridge's town and gown met in Wolfson College during this year's 'Love for the Beloved' event. Both this and the Oxford gathering can be downloaded in whole or as parts outlined below:

Listen to the whole Mawlid
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1. The gathering opened with Fatiha, Surah al-Ikhlas, Falaq, Nas, then continued with some istighfar and salawat led by Sheikh Abdal Hakim.


2. The Sheikh recites two poems written by the great wali and pillar of Istanbul Aziz Mahmud Hudayi (Allah have mercy on his soul), who now rests in the neighbourhood of Uskudar.

Listen to the the poems
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3. The Sheikh leads the recital of another of Aziz Mahmud Hudayi's poems 'Asikin Maksudu'. The text and translation by Shiekh Abdal Hakim can be found here.

Listen to Asikin Maksudu
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4. The gathering now moves on to recite the eminent Hadrami scholar Habib Umar's mawlid text about the Prophet - peace be upon him - titled al-Diya al-Lami', the Shimmering Light, which can be downloaded with translation here. Traditionally in between chapters of such a text an Arabic qasida is recited. In light of the nature of our community English songs are sung instead: Litany VII, Litany XXX. In addition, an English translation of parts of the Ottoman wali Suleyman Chelebi's mawlid poem Mevlidi Sherif - text found here.

Listen to Al-Diya al-Lami'
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5. We now move onto two songs, the first, Bird of the Soul was written by Sefer efendi and translated by Sheikh Abdal Hakim and is set to a melody written by Zeki Altun.


6. This qasida is written by the great 17th century scholar and saint Imam Abdallah b. 'Alawi al-Haddad (Allah have mercy on his soul), who was born and died in the Hadrami town of Tarim, Yemen. The melody is from a royalist air titled 'When the King enjoys his own again'. The musical notation is here and the arabic text here. Imam Haddad's Diwan can be found on this website also replete with other valuable resources (warning; may take some time to load).


7. Poems written in Farsi including the famous lines by Sheikh Sa'di (Allah have mercy on his soul) are now recited by members of Cambridge's Iranian community.

Listen to the Persian recital
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8. A few of the Brothers from the Isoc contributed with a few well known Arabic nasheeds including Talama ashku gharami and Tala al Badru 'alayna - a song that has been on Muslim lips since the emigration of the Prophet peace be upon him from Mecca to Medina in the year 622 (0 H). The text can be found here

Listen to the Brothers' Medley and Dua'
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Oxford

A few days previously the Oxford Isoc organised a wonderful gathering with Sheikhs Babikr and Ozturk and Sudanese nasheed reciters as part of their Experience Islam Term. We apologise in advance for the poor quality of some of the recordings - the event overwhelmed our hearts but unfortunately also the capabilities of our recorder. The videos may act as a compensation. A full video recording will soon be available; please keep visiting www.ouisoc.com for this and other information.

Listen to the whole Mawlid
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1. Sheikh Ozturk, a visiting scholar from Istanbul, opens with the recitation of the famous verses (40 to 48) from the Chapter of the Confederates in praise of the Prophet peace be upon him.

Listen to Surah al-Ahzab
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Surah al-Ahzab verse 56 - Sheikh Ozturk - Salute him!

2. Sheikh Ozturk then moves on to beautifully recite the passages in Suleyman Chelebis Mevlidi Sherif (mentioned above) regarding the birth of the Prophet peace be upon him through the eyes of his mother Amina hatun.

Listen to Mevlidi Sherif
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3. This begins a series of anasheed sung in the Sudanese fashion. Unfortunately some of the other recordings are obscured somewhat by the voices of others in the gathering.

Listen to Ibrahim Madih [1]
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Ibrahim Madih - La ilaha Illa Allah

4. One of the most beloved of our Shuyukh, Sheikh Babikr scarcely needs an introduction but just in case one can be found here. He delivers a powerful talk about the Prophet peace be upon him, and our need to realise our humanity by harkening back to what he laid down for us in his sunnah.

Listen to Sheikh Babikr's talk
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Tala al Badru 'alayna - Sheikh Ozturk

5. The second of Ibrahim Madih's Sudanese contributions.

Listen to Ibrahim Madih [2]
Download Ibrahim Madih [2] (MP3, 9.93MB - 10mins 51secs)

6. And the third

Listen to Ibrahim Madih - Anta nur min nur [3]
Download Ibrahim Madih - Anta nur min nur [3] (MP3, 4.47MB - 5mins 13secs)

7. Sheikh Babikr offers some closing remarks and the gathering closes with supplications to Allah.

Listen to the closing remarks and ad'iya
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Wassalamu 'alaikum

"Allah and His angels send blessing on the Prophet; O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him and salute him with all respect"

Limits of the Law

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 13 March 2009 - 23 mins 27 secs

In this sermon, the sheikh relates a hadith (saying) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in which he divided actions into the compulsory, the forbidden, and things about which God has been silent out of mercy for mankind. At first, this idea seems confusing or troubling: why would God leave some things out of the guidance He has established? The sheikh goes on to explain this by examining the relationship between the boundaries and signposts provided by God through the shari'a on the one hand, and on the other the human conscience - called in another hadith 'God's preacher' (wa'iz Allah). Through the dynamic of this relationship, we can see the importance of understanding the fundamental purpose of the law we follow. Further, we can appreciate another dimension of God's Mercy in establishing His law in such a way that it facilitates that understanding.

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Living & Dying

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 3 March 2009 - 56 mins 41 secs

In this talk, the sheikh discusses God's Divine Attributes as the Living (al-Hayy) and the Giver of Life (al-Muhyi), and how they relate to mankind. Although of course we only do so through Him and by His Mercy, we can if we choose attempt to conform ourselves to these Divine Qualities as far as our limited nature allows. The sacred law (shar'iah) is a means to do this; the ethical system enjoined by God through it is based firstly on His Name of al-Muhyi (the Giver of Life), so that the right to life (of all categories of creation) is one of its fundamental principles. Another means is prayer: as the sheikh reminds us, the verb in the adhan (call to prayer) normally translated as 'come to' (prayer/success) actually has the root meaning to be or come alive. However, the modern world has manifested an excessive attachment to this quality and the life of this world - with the paradoxical but clear effect of actually bringing about its opposite. In other words, in our longing for life in the limited modern sense, mankind now more frequently manifests the Divine Quality of al-Mumit (Bringer of Death), but a disproportionate and misguided fashion. The sheikh discusses some means to overcome this, and perceive our journey through this world in the true light. It is not from life to death as materialist philosophies assume, but just the opposite: from the dead matter of this world from which we are given temporary physical form, to the world which God calls in the Qur'an the truly living (al-Hayawan, i.e. al-Akhira)

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'Hud and her sisters...'

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 27th February 2009 - 32 mins 31 secs

The Sheikh began with the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) 'Hud and her sisters have turned my hair grey (shayyabatni)'. This statement of his alludes to the immense gravity of the themes explored in these surahs. On previous occasions the Sheikh has used this hadith to illustrate the terrifying eschatological implications of Surah Hud. He bears these in mind when continuing with the last khutba's theme of 'upsetting the balance'. We are led through the Qur'anic event when the angels visited Ibrahim (upon him be peace) and his wife Sarah - both aged in extremis - with the good news of a child, an episode similar to the Annunciation of Isa b. Maryam (upon them be peace).

Various lessons are teased out from this; the Qur'anic address to Sarah in stark contrast to the androcentric Biblical telling of the episode and the humility and hospitality that Ibrahim showed to his heavenly guests. We are also reminded of his yearning for the same blessings to be bestowed upon the children of Lot as were to be bestowed upon his children Isaac and Ishmael, the great twin streams of prophecy. The Sheikh ends on a topical note - Abraham and his children represent the fertile possibilities of the life that is turned inwardly upwards to heaven. The fate visited on the people of Lot in contrast reminds us of the perils of turning an 'inverted' gaze to ourselves only, an attitude sadly all too prevalent in the present age. This leads to the upsetting of the balance that Hud tries to protect us from.

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Islam, Gender, Marriage & Sexuality

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Rhodes House, Oxford - 9 February 2009 - 1 hr 00 mins 04 secs

TRANSCRIPTION PENDING

In another talk for OUISOC's Experience Islam Term, Sheikh Abdal Hakim offers some further thoughts on gender in Islam (which dovetail quite nicely with previous talks posted here and here). He begins, with characteristic catholicity, by discussing the career of Valentine de Sainte Point, an early French feminist and Futurist who in later life rejected what she perceived as the dehumanising trajectory of Western culture and converted to Islam, in which she found a more integrated and integrative understanding of human nature.

From that, the sheikh moves on discuss some aspects of the Islamic understanding of gender and sexuality, and how in this respect, as in others, the message of the Qu'ran and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) acted as a rectification to misinterpretations of previous revelation; in this case, the rejection and excoriation of human sexuality often manifested by Christianity. The Prophet, by contrast, as 'mankind perfected', embraced this aspect of his humanity as he did every other, according to the Divine Guidance. His role as exemplar was thereby extended to women partly through his marriages, which provided multiple models of exemplary female behaviour. The sheikh finishes by discussing this in relation to the Prophet's wives (may God be pleased with them) and Qur'anic examples of ideal women.

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Some Excellent Links

Nothing from Cambridge this time, but some really thought-provoking talks recently posted elsewhere that can benefit us all, God willing.

Eyeless in Gaza, a talk given by Habib 'Ali al-Jifri during the recent Radical Middle Way tour.

Removing the Silence on Domestic Violence, a sermon delivered by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf in San Jose on Friday 20 February 2009.

The Qur'anic Jesus

Talk by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Keble College, Oxford - 9 February 2009 - 1 hr 25 mins 09 secs

Our brothers and sisters over in Oxford have also been working hard, outdoing us with a whole term of Experience Islam events, may God reward them. Check out the impressive programme here, and get along to some of the events yet to come if you can. Among the talks so far was this one on Islamic perspectives on Jesus by Sheikh Abdal Hakim. In it he presents the Qur'anic understanding of Jesus ('Isa, peace be upon him), and relates it to historical and contemporary debates about his nature and role. The talk highlights in particular the possibility of a shared Christological dialogue between the Abrahamic faiths.

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Corruption on the Earth

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 13 February 2009 - 29 mins 21 secs

Alhamdulilah, thanks to the hard work of the ladies and gentlemen of the Cambridge University Islamic Society and the speakers who kindly attended, we were lucky enough here to have many interesting and beneficial talks during the recent Experience Islam Week. You can see the whole programme and download many of the talks here. In this sermon, delivered during EIW, the sheikh reflects on the Qur'anic warning about the corruption of the earth caused by man's abuse of the blessings of creation. The practical implications of this are becoming distressingly evident in our own times, testament to the dimming of our perception of the signs (ayat) of which our entire environment consists. The sheikh discusses the deep love of the prophets' for all aspects of creation and how this relates to their sound understanding of mankind's true place within in it.

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Supporters of God

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - date unknown - 24 mins 49 secs

In the Qur'an, God Almighty commands the believers to be His supporters or helpers (ansar). Since God is, among His other beautiful and majestic atrributes, the Indepedent and Self-Sufficient (al-Ghani') and the Sovereign of All (Malik al-Mulk), He does not need our assistance, so what does this command mean? In this sermon, the sheikh discusses some aspects of this question, relating it to the covenant of Bani Isra'il (the Israelites). In the Qur'an, the stories of that people are told as an example and an emblem of both a sound and an unsound relationship with God. Rather than assuming complacently that this is simply the history of another community, they have forced, and must continue to force, Muslims to consider how we ourselves measure up to that example.

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God, Science & the 'New Atheism'

Lecture by Prof. Keith Ward - Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Cambridge - 27 January 2009 - 1 hr (approx.)

It's a bit off our usual posting, but this is a very interesting and thought-provoking lecture given in Cambridge last month. In the last few years, the works of the 'New Atheists' such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have gained wide media and popular attention. In this lecture, Prof. Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford and author among many other things of Why There Almost Certainly Is A God, deconstructs the reasoning behind this trend and analyses the limits of scientific knowledge, presenting the philosophical case for the rational belief in a power beyond time and space. Great stuff for dealing with any tedious religion-bashers among your friends, colleagues or acquaintances. The Faraday Institute has lots of other good resources on related topics. At one point, Prof. Ward refers to Bernard d'Espagnat's highly suggestive phrase 'veiled reality', to describe the point beyond which reality is not scientifically knowable. May God make us grateful for the profound gift of revelation that has given us another path past the veil to understand Him who is truly Real.

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The Teeth of the Key

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 20 October 2006 - 25 mins 09 secs

In this sermon, the sheikh relates some sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) about the power and significance of bearing witness to the Unity of God (shahada). Taken literally, these sayings seem to suggest that simply saying La ilaha illa Allah ('There is no God but God') with sincerity is enough to attain salvation. However, the sheikh relates the opinion of the 'ulama who have said that to believe in God's Oneness is necessarily to want to act according to it. The gateway to this action is the Revelation given to the Prophet Muhammad and his own example. Hence the first witnessing to God's Unity is inextricably linked to the second witnessing of Muhammad's prophethood.

(Apologies that the first minute or so of the sermon are missing.)

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Unveiling the Qur'an

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) by Sheikh Abdal Hakim - Cambridge - date unknown - 26 mins 43 secs

TRANSCRIPTION PENDING

The Holy Qur'an is in every Muslim home and every mosque, a ubiquitous presence in our lives as a material object. But how many of us can say that it is so present in our hearts, where it serves its true purpose? In this sermon, the sheikh reminds us of the outward and formal courtesies (adab) necessary to approach the Qur'an, and how these relate to the unparalled inner purification and upliftment it can effect. When viewed clearly, it is the most dazzling of God's signs, taking us as directly as it is possible for us to come to knowledge of Him because its content is co-eternal with Him; yet, as the sheikh says, unless we approach it with the proper reverence and love, its meaning and significance may be veiled to us. May God soften all of our hearts to the message of His Divine Book, and protect us from arrogance or hard-heartedness before it.

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