Fathers and Sons

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 21st October 2011 - 25mins 54secs

Hagar, that ‘root out of a dry ground’, the most fertile woman in history.
Contentions 1:30, Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad

In the run up to the pilgrimage of Hajj the Sheikh gave a captivating account of the prophetic destinies of the houses of the sons of Ibrahim, upon them all be peace. Highlighting the difference between the Testament and Qur'anic accounts of how Hajar (Hagar) came to find herself in the barren valley of Mecca, the Sheikh shows how then, as now, truth and righteousness is still to be found with the outcast, or in the Prophet's words, peace be upon him, "with the broken-hearted".

However despite the divergences within the great Abrahamic stream we learn that the Islamic message is one of inclusiveness. The Qur'an is replete with the accounts of the scions of Isaac; Ya'qub (Jacob), Yusuf (Joseph), Musa (Moses), Harun (Aron), Dawud (David) and Isa (Jesus). Later in the khutba, after regaling us with the thrilling account of the discovery of Zamzam, the Sheikh tells us of the fulfillment of this other Abrahamic line, with the arrival of Muhammad, the Chosen One, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The universal nature of his mission is resoundingly confirmed with his words "I was sent (as a Messenger) to mankind, in its totality".

Lest our blog-post title intimate to some that the Abrahamic and Muhammadan story is another androcentric saga, the Sheikh dwells during the sermon on the monumental matriarch of our tradition, Hajar. A perfect example of one who would put her reliance solely with God, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would invoke her memory and those like her on the battlefield when he would exclaim:

"I am the son of heroines, and pure women"

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'Two Ravenous Wolves'

Friday sermon (jum'ah khutba) - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Cambridge - 7th October 2011 - 27mins 37secs

"Whomsoever wants of this lower life, We shall give him his fill in this lower life, and in it he will not be disappointed. It is these whose affair in the akhira is the fire; empty is what they used to do, and futile their former acts"

This is the unflinching Qur'anic designation of those who set fire on the earth, who set alight their egos and aspirations. In this first khutba of Cambridge University's Michelmas term the Sheikh describes those who, rather than act as gardeners, stoke the fires of the lower potentialities of the soul. The fires of the love of wealth and status, worryingly enticing to many of us are described by Imam Ghazali as 'rukna ad-dunya', pillars of this corrupt world. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, himself put it in his own unique way:

Even two wolves let loose in a flock of sheep would do no more harm more quickly than the love of status and wealth do to the religion of the Muslim believer.

The Sheikh goes on to note that the real crisis of modern humanity is that of status and wealth. In Ghazalian terms these could be described as the acquisitive desires for ownership of 'things' ('Who's on Forbes' list? What kind of car does he have?'), and hearts; the desire for fame. Unfortunately in a reflexive manner we tend to venerate those who have wealth and status, regardless of their qualities. This why Tony Blair can be held as the leader of the Middle East Quartet and head of a Faith Foundation; a Pied Piper leading his entranced faithful to the melody of his own fame.

Fortunately the Sheikh tells us that there is a way to banish these wolves that are baying at our door. Religion snaps us out of the trance. Islam is the sharp tonic that we need but it must be added it does not lead to us to the opposite extreme; only to the middle way. We do have the right to wealth, and a certain status, honour, sharafa. The shari'a grants us the right to property and the right to dignity; the crux of the matter lies in the intention behind what we do, whether we are Princes or paupers. The Sheikh highlights this point by drawing from the example of the Sahaba Abu Dujana, the famous Red Turbaned Samurai-like Warrior of Islam.

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Come Dine with Me

Talk - Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad - London - 10th May 2011 -  50mins 45secs

You were a prized falcon, trapped by an old woman.
Then you heard the Drummer's call,
and flew beyond space and time...

Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (may God be pleased with him)

Earlier this year Sheikh Abdal Hakim gave an address at an event hosted by Ulfa Aid. He began by outlining the homogenous monoculture bequeathed to us by globalisation, with its lack of family values but perhaps more importantly lack of a belief in the unseen, the magical. This age that we find ourselves in is not modern or post-modern but rather "post-everything"; an age in which the sarcastic quip and the cynical put-down is king. 

Despite this the Sheikh reminds us that within all humans is a capacity for wide-eyed amazement that cannot be entirely blunted. As a respected astrophysicist would have it, 'the strangest thing in existence is that existence itself can be perceived', and answers to the inevitable questions that arise can be found within Islam's cosmological narrative. In this age the truth is posited precisely where the power structures of the day would say it is not; God is not to be found with the well-fed investment bankers but with the seemingly impoverished taxi drivers that drive them around. These are the inheritors to the Ishmaelite tradition, for God is with the outcast, the downtrodden, the despised.

As Mevlana Rumi notes our task in this life is to respond to the calling of the drum. Humanity is not inherently sinful; rather we have forgotten our origins and the incessant beating of the drum led by the Prophets urges us to waken from our slumber, for as Mevlana says 'an-nawmu 'ala-l-ashiqi haram': 'sleep for the lovers is forbidden'. At its start this path can seem exacting. However this is a small effort to be made for us to become falcons, spread our wings and fly to that Court that lies 'beyond space and time'.

Talk published with kind permission of Ulfa Aid. Please visit the Ulfa Aid website, we can't recommend highly enough the work that they have been doing for countless around the world, may Allah bless their efforts and accept it from them.  They will be holding a 'Night Walk' along Southbank, London on 29th October to raise money for victims of the recent Japan earthquake, some more details to be found here. Another exciting development is the opening of the Ulfa Aid shop in Willesden Green next week. Called 'Rumi's Cave' it will be a versatile space that will - insha-Allah - be used as a cafe, antique shop, exhibition area and community centre. Please check the website and mailing list for more details.
Listen to this talk

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Listen to the Q and A

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Photograph and videos taken from the Ulfa Aid website, 'Come Dine with Me' event.


Come Dine With Me - Abdul Hakim Murad ( Timothy Winter ) from Ulfa Aid on Vimeo.

Come Dine With Me - Abdul Hakim Murad ( Timothy Winter ) Q&A from Ulfa Aid on Vimeo.