Society & Solitude

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


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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