A Day in the Life….

 

 

 

 

Dear Friend,

How are you coping after a month in lock down?

In case it’s any help I thought it might be worth sharing a typical day now that Ramadan and lock down coincide. Let’s look at how I spent yesterday, Monday 27th April:

 

2:30am Alarm goes off. Pray tahajjud and eat sehri: a bowl of porridge and chamomile tea. Read a portion of Quran and Altaf al-Quds by Shah Waliullah.

4.00am Fajr prayer, dhikr, muraqaba and Hizbul Bahr. Sleep.

8:30am At my desk in the study preparing for remote teaching.

9.00am Teaching English for Academic Purposes and Interactive Learning Skills & Communication. This is my first day of remote teaching. Students are in different time zones around the world.

11:00am Meeting with university staff.

12:30am I like to ‘sharpen my axe’ by reading each day, either learning something new or revising something I should already know. Today I spend an hour in the company of David Fromkin, reading his ‘A Peace to End All Peace’,  learning about how the Middle East was created and the Ottoman Empire was brought to an end.

1:30pm Zuhr prayer and reading Quran. This Ramadan I’m reading ‘Tafseer Azizi’ by Shah Abdul Aziz. Originally written in Persian – I have an Urdu translation. What’s unique about it is that it was entirely dictated by him from memory in his latter years as he had lost his eyesight.

2:30pm Another Zoom meeting with colleagues from the University of Birmingham.

3:30pm Spent an hour and a half with the children: This was an eclectic mix of algebraic equations, multiplication tables, binary codes, counting in tens, using hyphens and Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox.

5:00pm Reading Judd Harmon’s ‘Political Thought from Plato to the Present’. This is a history of political thought and how the ancients still influence us today.

6pm Time for a little siesta. Didn’t actually fall asleep but just lay down for 30 minutes.

6:30pm Made black eye beans curry for iftar. Wife made the roti and salad.

7:15pm Asr prayer and then, rather later than usual, time to leave the house for the one hour exercise. How strange the dynamics of meeting people on the street have become. I’m not exactly sure what ‘gorm’ is, but lots of people don’t seem to have any of it. One problem is speed differential. I can cope with the cyclists, as they tend to stay on the road and give you a wide berth. My big issue is with the joggers, especially those who have only started pounding the streets since lock down began. You can tell them by the awkward gait, the red face and the ‘I’m about to have a heart attack’ wheezing. They splutter and snort sending bodily fluids way more than 2 metres. If I see them in time I zip across the road to safety.

The other issue is with millennials who seem to think they are immune to infection and that moving into single file would be so uncool. I’ve adopted a new technique: when I see a young couple coming straight towards me who are clearly not going to move an inch. Out comes the tissue and a combination of a sneeze and a dry cough usually does the trick.

8.30pm magrib and iftar

10.00pm Isha and tarawih

Another day survived…

Wherever you are locked up (sorry, down), stay safe and stay sane.

Until next time

Shazad

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Education & Culture

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Sitting in a cafe last night with an old friend and student – Dr Khalid Hussain – we had a very insightful and lengthy conversation about education and its purpose. The conversation was interspersed with sweet cardamom tea and added more flavour to the discussion. It propelled me to write today’s blog.

One of the deeply rooted superstitions of our age is the notion that the sole purpose of education is to benefit those who receive it. What we teach, how we teach, what subjects we encourage, are all utilised for one underlying purpose – “what do the kids get out of it?” And this ignites another more detrimental question – “is it relevant?” – and by relevant they mean “relevant to the interest of the kids.” From these superstitions have arisen a multitude of other problems such as the abhorrence of rote learning. Continue reading →

Hujjatullah al-Balighah Course

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Are you struggling with why Islam has given us ‘strict’ rulings?

Learn the underlying theory of Islam in this course where Shah Waliullah’s masterpiece is explained.

 

Hujjatullah al-Balighah

Like the thread that slips through the holes of scattered pearls and brings them together as one exquisitely beautiful necklace, the Hujjah is what unites the sacred sciences allowing you to appreciate the Shari’ah’s beauty in its entirety.

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Understanding the Daughters of Eve

Love is to man a thing apart, 

‘Tis woman’s whole existence. 

(Lord Byron)

In millions of homes everyday there are men leaving for work who probably have as their last words, “Who can understand a woman? What makes her act that way?”

This lack of understanding between the sexes arises from the fact that women are not like men. They do not think as men do. They are different in temperament, characteristics and needs. They have a different world of responsibility and therefore a different set of problems.

And yet women can be understood. To gain such an understanding is to gain a liberating education – one that is essential for the ying and yang  balance in marriage. The following are some of the most basic needs and characteristics to understand if you (men) are to live with a woman in peace and happiness. Continue reading →

The Importance of Being Grateful

WordsworthThe onslaught of technology has left us with little energy or mental space to ponder over creation. In times gone by, nature spoke the language of God; it still does but we fail to comprehend it. William Wordsworth, the celebrated English poet, repeatedly lamented the loss of the connection with the divine. His ode, ‘Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’ begins with these words:

‘There was a time when meadow, grove and stream,

The earth, and every common sight,

To me did seem

Apparelled in celestial light

The glory and freshness of a dream.’  Continue reading →

Shah Rafi Uddin’s Metaphysics

blind men

John Godfrey Saxe’s (1816-1887) version of Blind Men and the Elephant:

It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

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Tradition & Change: To Reform or not to Reform?

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Tradition is here defined as an intellectual tendency or social perspective of continuing the preservation of values, statements, norms and the like from one generation to the next. In contrast, modernity is the social outlook on life which is inclined to break with tradition. It is driven by the force to repudiate traditional values, customs and beliefs in favour of more radical ideas. A delineating feature of modernity is constant change whilst tradition is identified by continuation. Where do we stand regarding these two polarities as religious people?

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Religion vs Secularism

0bf85ece-2299-4e49-89d1-a97dcc5473d8-2060x1236What conventional wisdom promotes and dictates is the assumption that religion is an outdated weltanschuuang. It presupposes the reality of secular ideals vs. the myth of religion. It assumes the necessity of secularism versus the threat of religion. Much of the foreign policy of the last decade or so, and now with Theresa May and David Cameron’s new terrorism Bill, is underpinned by an assumption that somehow secularism is a saviour of religion. It sees religion as a dangerous phenomena and therefore it is in need, or more correctly, there is a necessity for it to be tamed. Continue reading →

Do Muslims Belong in the West?

In this discussion, Talal Asad identifies the problematic ways in which the presence of Muslim communities in Western contexts has been characterized in response to outbreaks of violence such as the recent events in Paris. Asad argues that many of the critiques to which Muslims are subjected, namely their dependence on transcendent forces, also inhabit the intellectual assumptions of secular and atheist commentators.  He further expresses the need to examine Islam as a “tradition” in order to avoid precisely the types of sweeping generalizations and focus instead on the complexities and particularities of the various ways in which Islam is lived. The inability to historicize Islam as a tradition has played into the calls for a “reform” of the religion and resulted in the inability to confront the underlying causes of the recent eruptions of violence. This interview was conducted in New York on 17 January 2015. It was later transcribed for publication. Click here