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'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'
Download Al-Diya al-Lami' (MP3, 21.8MB - 23mins 52 secs)

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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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
Download the whole Mawlid (MP3, 75.7MB - 1hr 22secs)

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
Download Surah al-Ahzab (MP3, 7.54MB 8mins 14secs)

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]
Download Ibrahim Madih [1] (MP3, 5.79MB - 6mins 19secs)

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
Download the closing remarks and ad'iya (MP3, 10.3MB 11mins 15secs)

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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