'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


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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