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

Continue reading →

Lessons Life Left Me: A Decade in Retrospect by Sofia Khadim

 

 As any school teacher will tell you, the final furlongs of the year are the hardest. When the teenagers have switched off and despite your best intentions, so have you. The end of December has usually brought you keeled onto your knees- dragging your battered immune system to the finish line. Another year wrapped up. A fresh start on the horizon beckons- new opportunities, new goals, new destinations. But first you just need some sleep.

Calm, collected and recalibrated. After this much needed respite is when I usually look ahead at the blank canvas a new year brings. Like many, an ideal opportunity to renew focus and realign vision. This year, however, in all my tiredness I was caught unprepared. As I sat on the precipice of a new decade, I was asked to list my goals. What do I envision for this crisp blank page soon to be unfolded in front of me? Where do I want to go? As I sat there unpacking the different boxes of my life, I couldn’t help but glance back at the twenty-something who had walked into this decade and how the last ten years had led to the woman sitting here pensively on this cold and windy evening. Continue reading →

Why I Created U-Knowit

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My name is Shazad Khan and I’m passionate about learning and teaching. I founded U-Knowit to provide myself with an online platform to reach people that I couldn’t have reached otherwise. I’ve been teaching a range of subjects for nearly two decades now which include, Critical Thinking, English for Academic Purposes, Interactive Learning & Communication Skills, Arabic and Islamic Studies. I’ve also been blogging at micropaedia.org since 2010.  U-Knowit is basically an accumulation of my struggles, passions, reading, learning and meanderings; all systematically organised into modules for intellectual consumption.

 

But enough about me… I have a question for you – what type of person are you?

Are you passionate about empowering yourself?

Do you want to learn new skills and knowledge?

Do you struggle with the ability to write academically?

Do you struggle with being a Muslim in a Western context?

Do you find yourself in a pickle over pronouns and prepositions?

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.

Continue reading →

My Ustadh: Shaykh Yusuf Motala

I walked into the library of Darul Uloom. Orderly rows of Arabic books, handsomely bound in rich colours framed in arabesque and stamped in gold and silver surrounded me. I looked at the titles around me that ran boldly across the spines of all the volumes. I could see the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the Tafsir of Tabari and Ibn Kathir’s al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah. 

I slowly walked forward and saw a crouched man before me, sitting cross-legged reading some penned notes on pieces of paper. He raised his head as I came forward, and replied to my nervous Assalamu ‘Alaykum. I sat myself down before him and conveyed Shaykh Asad Madani’s salam to him. A conspicuous smile lit his face and he replied, ‘Alayhi wa ‘Alaykas Salam‘. This was my first meeting with my ustadh, Shaykh Yusuf Motala, who departed this temporal abode on the 10th of Muharram this year. Continue reading →

How to Give a Persuasive Presentation

A merry soul by the name of Miss Khadim, who writes under the nom de plume: the Silent Soliloquy asked me last week to write something on how to give a presentation. Although what she asked was about instructive speech, I will focus today on persuasive speech and return to instructive speech in a forthcoming blog.

Aristotle, who is commonly known as a philosopher, and you might be forgiven to think what might a philosopher have to say about giving presentations. But, as we shall see in this blog, Aristotle has great insight in this area; given that a presentation in other words is the act of persuading others to act or believe in a certain way; this is precisely what Aristotle is a master of – the art of persuasion – and his book entitled Rhetoric is the masterpiece that he produced on this topic.

There are basically three main strategies that one employs to persuade others. And the best words to describe these three strategies are the ones that the Greeks used. They are: ethos, pathos and logos.

rhetoric 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 →

Remembering Maulana Hasan Tai (1930-2017)

 

Sadly, on the 28th of December 2017, Maulana Muhammad Hasan departed from this temporal abode and left us with his memories.

عن عاءـشة قالت : ما غرت على أحد من نساء النبي  ما غرت على خديجة – وما رأيتها – ولكن كان يكثر ذكرها، وربما ذبح الشاة فيقطعها أعضاء، ثم يبعثها في صدائق خديجة، فربما قلت: كأنه لم يكن في الدنيا امرأة إلا خديجة فيقول: «إنها كانت وكانت وكان لي منها      ولد

 

Aisha, Allah be well pleased with her, states that:

“I was not envious of any of the wives of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, more than I envied Khadija – and I had not seen her – but the Prophet used to remember her frequently. He, at times, used to distribute meat amongst Khadija’s friends, whereupon I would exclaim, “It’s as if there is no other woman in the world except Khadijah!”

He would remark, “She was like this …and like this.. and I have had children from her”

(Bukhari)

As I sit down to write this, there are many memories that I recall about Maulana Hasan Tai – too many to mention here. Somewhat similar to how the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to reminisce over Khadijah. Continue reading →

Islamic Tradition of Books

The visitor to an Islamic bookstore is struck by the orderly rows of
Arabic sets, usually handsomely bound in rich colours with calligraphic
titles framed in arabesque and stamped in gold or silver. Nowadays, the
title commonly runs boldly across the spines of all the volumes.

 

A well run
bookstore will have these works sorted by discipline: commentaries
on the Qur’an; collections of the reported words and deeds of the Prophet
and his Companions, with their commentaries; Islamic law, both rulings
and studies of the principles to be followed in deducing law; theology;
large biographical dictionaries of individuals of various classes, most
commonly scholars; histories and geographies; and Arabic grammars
and dictionaries. Continue reading →

Shah Rafi’ Uddin’s Risala fi Tatbiq al-Araa

tn_takmil_al-azhanwmShah Rafi’ Uddin, the son of Shah Waliullah, has developed a systematic approach in dealing with differences of opinion in his Risala fi Tatbiq al-Araa‘. He deals with differences of opinion per se – regardless of whether they are theological, educational, or practical – his method is philosophical and it attempts at understanding all differences. This is not to be confused with synthesism nor for that matter a triumphalist attempt at rebutting all opposing opinions but rather he defines it as: Continue reading →