If – by Rudyard Kipling

If – by Rudyard Kipling

 

Sometimes the world becomes a burden. Huntingdon misunderstood… its the clash of misunderstanding.


 

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

 

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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Imām al-Ghazālī and his warning to those engaging in speculative theology

 

You were optimistic about the days when it was well with you,

And you did not fear the evil which fate brings;

And the nights made you feel safe and you were deceived by them,

For with clear nights comes the onset of murkiness.


 

Imām al-Ghazālī identifies two major causes which can lead to a person being sealed with an evil ending (May God protect us). The gist of which is that the first is the erroneous belief concerning God which cannot be mitigated by practical piety; the second, weakness of faith in the root and the mastery of the love of the world. With respect to the first cause it may operate through a man’s active participation in speculative theology or through his acceptance on authority of the results of speculation. Here the extremely serious view which al-Ghazālī takes of intellectual error in relation to the doctrine of God is clearly seen. Such error taints not only the thinking of a few speculative minds, but also the beliefs of the many, before whom the Scholars exhibit the wares of their intellects. It is these considerations that regulate his generally unfavourable attitude to speculative theology.

You can find the full text in ‘The Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihyā ulūm al-dīn)’ in the book regarding Fear and Hope. I have included excerpts below:

“And the simple folk are far from this danger. I mean those who believe in God and His Messenger and the Last Day with a comprehensive and firmly-rooted faith, such as the bedouin and the negroes, and the rest of those common folk who have not waded into research and enquiry nor wallowed in systematic theology as if it were an absolute standard of reference. Nor have they inclined to the different kinds of systematic theologians, accepting on authority their divergent sayings; and, for that reason, he (Muhammad) said: The majority of the people of the Garden are simple folk.

And, for that reason, the Fathers proscribed research and enquiry and the wading into systematic theology and the examination of these matters. And they commanded the people that they should restrict themselves to believing in what God has revealed in its totality and to what has come from meanings that are plain, along with its affirmation that analogy should be disowned. And they forbade them to wade into allegorical exegesis, because the danger involved in research into the attributes of God is great, and its ascents are steep and its paths are rugged, and the intellect comes short of attaining to the majesty of God. And the guidance of God with the light of assurance is veiled from human hearts according as they bear the inborn impress of the love of the world.”

And only God knows best.


 

 

 

 

What do the surveys really say about Muslims in Britain?

What do the surveys really say about Muslims in Britain?

There is a lot of discussion going around about Muslims and being British. So let me share a few statistics with you from my own research and reading. Although I still maintain that it is still about how we, as British Muslims, conduct ourselves on a day-to-day basis that will make the difference.

It’s not the numbers that count, it’s your character.

British Muslims generally identify strongly with their ‘British’ identity. The 2009 Gallop survey found that British Muslims are more likely than all populations to identify strongly with their national identity and express stronger confidence in its democratic institutions (Gallup, 2009: 21-4.). Similarly 83 per cent of Muslims said they were ‘proud to be a British citizen’ higher than for Britons generally (79 per cent). (Wind-Cowie and Gregory, 2011: 39-40). The 2008-2009 Citizenship survey (CLG, 2010) found that 93 per cent of Muslims (same number as wider society) felt they were a part of British society (CLG, 2010:40).

There are more, but you get the idea.

References:

CLG (2010) Attitudes, values and perceptions: Muslims and the general population in 2007-2008. London: Department for Communities and Local Government.

Gallup coexist index (2009) A global study of interfaith relations. Washington: Gallup.

Wind-Cowie, M. and Gregory, T. (2011) A place for pride. London: Demos.

Niẓāmī Institute Term Two Enrolment‏

Niẓāmī Institute Term Two Enrolment‏

Salām

We pray you are well Insha’Allāh.

Please see attached more information about our second term which is about to begin very soon. We humbly request that you forward this to people who may be interested in enrolling – the courses are open to brothers and sisters. Please remember that this is very much a grassroots initiative specifically tailored for our community – The community of Blackburn.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Niẓāmī Institute

For further details, please see attachment:

Niẓāmī InstituteTermTwoFlyer

———

The Institute promotes high standard Islamic Studies courses, which fuse the contemporary with tradition in an open environment. Our aim is to help mobilise the many existing strengths of British Muslims to produce stronger, more dynamic institutions and communities.

Barbara Metcalf, Deoband and Cambridge

Barbara Metcalf, Deoband and Cambridge

Last night we were treated to a lecture at Cambridge University from the leading expert on Deoband, at least in Western academia; Barbara Metcalf. The lecture was titled: ‘When authorities clash: the differences of two Islamic scholars over the secular and plural state’.  Once again, Barbara displayed her intricate knowledge of  South Asian history and her intimate familiarity with the scholars of Deoband.

Her contribution to this arena is immense. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the history of the Muslim scholars of Deoband. Her work has opened up the works of the Ulama of Deoband to historical analysis in ways that very few others have done. She takes us into the worldview of the religious scholars and shows us how they made sense of their world and their work. One only needs to read ‘Islamic Revival in British India; Deoband, 1860-1900’ to appreciate her colossal contribution to understanding the complex world of the scholars of Deoband. She really has laid the foundation for further research to be conducted on Deoband and its scholarly output – an undertaking that is sure to reveal a treasure trove of knowledge.

When we spoke with her afterwards, we felt duty bound to thank her for her phenomenal output. She mentioned how she spent time at Deoband to conduct her fieldwork, all under the auspices of Qari Tayyib – whom she was awe inspired by. Her humility was marked by her continued insistence that she is only laying the groundwork for others to follow. And in that she is unique and unparalleled, leaving behind reams of writings and notes for future generations to build upon. I wished that more scholars of the Deoband tradition here in the UK knew of her work.

As the debate continues around Deoband and its trajectory, we could all do with engaging with this unique personality and her contribution.

The Colonizer and the Colonized: A psychological study of colonial oppression

The Colonizer and the Colonized: A psychological study of colonial oppression

During the 1950s, in the midst of ugly colonial wars of independence Albert Memmi’s The Colonizer and the Colonized (1957), explored the injustice and oppressive daily humiliations of the colonized.   Memmi was a self-made intellectual who contributed immensely to the effervescence of French cultural life. Edward Said (1994) referred to Memmi as one of the few intellectuals during the colonial period who managed to bridge the gap between the colonized and the colonizer.

First published in 1957, The Colonizer and the Colonized was born out of Albert Memmi‘s direct experiences in North Africa. At the time Algeria was in flames and the French Empire was disintegrating. Circulated in French colonial prisons, Memmi‘s work offers a psychological rather than an economic study of the effects of colonialism. In his 1965 preface, Memmi affirms that the ’economic aspect of colonisation is fundamental‘, yet this is hardly touched on. Instead he provides a portrait of the coloniser and the colonised, the relationships and dynamics between these two groups, and the psychological impact upon the protagonists.

This is a world in which the coloniser enjoys privilege while the colonised live in subhuman conditions and are viewed as a mass. They do not exist as individuals but become objects. They are nothing. As Cecil Rhodes once said, ’I prefer land to niggers.‘ Not surprisingly, racism became central to the system and not an incidental detail.

Memmi poetically describes how the stranglehold of colonisation leads to the loss of the colonised‘s history, memory and language. The colonised‘s native tongue becomes rusted and is neither written nor read. All institutions of power use the language of the coloniser, and so the colonised‘s institutions become dead or petrified. All progress, including technological advances, becomes associated with the coloniser. As a result the movement against colonisation makes the colonised assert their differences to the coloniser. This results in a return to religion, traditional institutions and culture.

Memmi is scathing of those Europeans who live in the colonies but who do not agree with it. Ultimately he believes that they will either return to Europe or become colonisers themselves. There is no middle ground: ’All Europeans in the colonies are de facto colonisers.‘ While it is true that Europeans in the colonies had privilege, this does not equate to all of them supporting and upholding the system. In fact there was a minority in many colonial outposts which did not accept the rule of the mother country and supported the colonised in their efforts to liberate themselves. But Memmi goes further: ’Europeans of Europe are potentially colonisers… By their whole weight, intentionally or not, they contribute to the perpetuation of colonial oppression.‘ This is that age-old argument that all of those living in the west, from the industrialist to the worker, benefit from and support the oppression of those in poorer nations. This may not entirely be true.

In any case, Where Hegel discussed the psycho-social relations between the ‘master’ and the ‘slave,’ Memmi turns toward the relations between Colonizer and Colonized. Like Aime Cesaire, Malcolm X, Franz Fanon, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and so many others of the mid 20th century anti-colonial movements, Memmi is interested in exposing the crippling psychological effects of the colonial relationship for all involved. His standpoint as a Jew in the middle of French North Africa allows him an inside/outside perspective which helps him to interpret the worlds of both colonizer and colonized. An exceptional work of anti-colonial theory, this book can open even stubbornly shut eyes.

Islamic Education in Britain: New Pluralist Paradigms

Islamic Education in Britain: New Pluralist Paradigms

by Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor and Alison Scott-Baumann

Review by Haroon Ibn Ebrahim Sidat

Grounded in empirical research, this book moves beyond the meta-narratives of secularisation and orientalism to demonstrate the importance of the teaching and learning of classical Islamic Studies for the promotion of reasoned dialogue, interfaith and intercultural understanding in pluralist British society.

Give the current socio-political climate; training of the next generation of Muslim leaders is of immense importance. However, there is a strange bifurcation in the British pedagogical landscape where students wanting to enhance their studies in Islam are confronted with two choices. They may choose a traditional seminary, which provides a warm and spiritual fellowship, nurtured in centuries-old Indian theological syllabus. As Tim Winter reminds us in the foreword: “Modern Britain offers few environments as deeply refined as the darul-ulooms.” Alternatively, students may pursue Islamic Studies in a secular British University, “dominated by an ‘area’ studies paradigm of little relevance to the needs of domestic Muslims…” (Ibid). Having said that, both forms of education are necessary aspects of pluralist Britain and there has never been a greater case for mutual interaction.

Islamic theology as taught in British seminaries include subjects that enable students to achieve a detailed and in-depth understanding of Islam followed by that particular community. But how much of the curriculum prepares students for life in pluralist Britain? Moreover, there is the perception that the Classical Islamic Theology as taught in the seminaries is confessional, non-critical and outdated. This is nothing new and as Ebrahim Moosa (2015) recently lamented that despite knowledge of the tradition being a highly valued trait, excellence in knowledge is seen as being secondary to moral formation and ethical excellence. Before any foray is to be made into this arena, it will be worthwhile looking at what the raison d’être are of the seminaries in Britain.

Perhaps the answer is to be found, as with many other religious institutions in that they are seen as particularist rather than pluralist; in other words, they seek to protect their religious traditions and hand them on in a form that is not weakened by modern trends or other belief systems. The question then is, is there a place for particularism in a pluralist society? Can we depart from secular religious dichotomies and create educational provision where both the secular and religious co-exist?

So where can we begin to bring the two worlds together? Perhaps language can act as a paradigm for tolerance. Thousands of British Muslims are learning Arabic in madrassas and darul ulooms everyday – in a rich and complex environment. If we accept that Arabic has enormous practical, cultural and spiritual importance for Muslims, then we need to look for it in Islamic Studies courses. This will enable students to relate personally to their faith, to develop critical understanding of texts and for career development. Ultimately, this may way go a long way in creating “an epistemic bridge between worlds; worlds of belief and secularism, worlds of East and West and worlds of old and new” (Pg. 104).

Scott-Baumann and Contractor are honest to demonstrate the difficulties of developing collaborative partnerships between UK universities and Muslim institutions in Britain. There are certainly a number of ‘roadblocks’ that require dismantling. One challenge is what is known as the neoliberal approach to education in the West; with financial and skills targets, and the need to improve the long-term state of the economy. One wonders how a system insistent on commodifying educational practice can collaborate with a tradition of reverence built on “understanding the will of God and to lead one’s life according to it” (Sikand, 2005)

Of more immediate concern, is the belief that “Islam has been nominated to be the alien other” (Pg. 149). This requires attention since there is the mistaken view that it is unwise and unsafe for Universities to develop partnership with Muslim institutes (yet there is no causal evidence – nothing suggesting that attending university radicalises Muslims). In fact, research by Scourfield, Kashyap and Lewis (2013) may suggest that the experience of university can moderate, not intensify Islamic belief systems. All of this so far makes the case for building bridges all the more important. We are told that there is “evidence for strong synergies between the two possibilities of collaboration, as long as different groups can accept that each group has a contribution to make that is culturally, religiously and historically important” (Pg. 154). Muslim colleges and community groups are keen. Are the universities willing to move closer?

This book offers a refreshing conclusion. It makes a compelling and timely argument towards the need for new partnerships between Higher Education and Islamic institutions. Such partnerships could be of great benefit for both university and seminary where the academic study of Islam could be substantially enriched. One ought to remember that Islamic thought and practice has a habit of thriving in periods of intellectual and cultural cross-fertilisation.

Kashyap R and Lewis VA 2013 ‘British Muslim Youth and Religious Fundamentalism: A Quantitative Investigation Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 35, No.12. pp 2117-2140.

Moosa, Ebrahim. What Is a Madrasa? Dev Publishers and Distributors. 2015.

Scourfield et al, 2012. pp 91-108

Sikand, Yoginder. Bastions of the Believers: Madrasas and Islamic education in India Delhi: Penguin. 2005.