Saturday, April 4, 2015

About Cambridge Muslim College

The Cambridge Muslim College works to enhance training and Islamic scholarship to help meet the many challenges facing the community in modern Britain. The College is committed to promoting the highest standards of academic excellence in Islamic studies in the contemporary context while maintaining respect for the religion’s authentic traditions and sources. Drawing on resources and expertise in Cambridge and beyond, the College’s mission is to help mobilise the many existing strengths of British Muslims to produce stronger, more dynamic institutions and communities.  
The College welcomes Muslims of all backgrounds who wish to deepen their pastoral skills and their awareness of contemporary developments in Britain and the world. It is independent of governments and is not affiliated to any Islamic movement. CMC provides a prayerful context for strengthening da’wa skills and scholarly resources to support all who care about the continuing health and dynamism of Britain’s Muslim community.  
The College is under the direction of Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad (T. J. Winter), Shaykh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. The College is accredited by the British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher Education.

Friday, April 3, 2015

"The Irony of Democracy", a Zaytuna Faculty Lecture by Imam Zaid Shakir (from 2012)

Zaytuna College Conference (Livestreamed) Tomorrow: Forging Islamic Authority: Navigating Text and Context in the Modern World

The Muslim world is in crisis, and the crisis is multi-layered. In many ways, the crisis revolves around the issue of Islamic authority. If international law recognizes nation states, what role is there for solidarity on the basis of a trans-national ummah? With national boundaries, to what extent can Muslims have solidarity with non-Muslims, whether as minorities in non-Muslim lands or in countries with a Muslim majority? Are there limits to a believer’s allegiance to a secular state? What texts are to be considered authoritative when approaching these questions? And is there one locus or multiple loci for legitimate interpretive authority? While the focus of the public discourse remains on the headlines, a much deeper epistemic debate is at hand centering on re-constituting Islamic authority in the post-Ottoman, nationalist and post-colonial periods. The complexity of this debate is muddled by a set of external circumstances that impinge into a scholar’s inner sanctum: globalization, neoliberal economics, corporatization, and commodification of knowledge, all of which challenge traditional frameworks for analysis and modes of transmission. Attempts at re-constituting Islamic authority have taken many forms but questions still remain. Indeed, we have arrived at a point where Islamic authority is limited, non-existent, sidelined, or mocked due to engagement in tangential and inconsequential debates. Where are we? Who are “we?” And where are we going?
To view the free livestream, please visit this page on Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 8 a.m. PDT.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Imam al-Ghazali on Funerals

Know that funerals are a lesson to the man possessed of insight, and a reminder and a counsel to all save the people of heedlessness. For these latter are increased only in hardness of heart by witnessing them, as they imagine that for all time they will be watching the funerals of others, and never reckon that they themselves must needs be carried in a funeral cortege. Even if they do so reckon, they do not deem this to be something near at hand. They do not consider that those who are carried now in funeral processions thought likewise. Vain, then, are their imaginings, and soon their allotted lifespans will be done.
Therefore let no bondsman watch a funeral without considering that he himself is the one being borne aloft, for so he will be before long: on the morrow, or on the day that follows: it is as if the event had already occurred.
Such, then, was their fear of death. But nowadays never do you see a group of people attending a funeral without the majority of them laughing and enjoying themselves, speaking of nothing but the inheritance and of what [the deceased] has bequeathed to his heirs; the sole though in the mind of his friends and relatives being of the devices by which they might obtain some share in his legacy. Not a single one of them (save those who God wills) meditates upon his own funeral and upon how he shall be when he himself is carried in a funeral cortege. The sole reason for this is the hardness which has afflicted people's heart through their many acts of disobedience and sin, whereby we have come to forget God (Exalted is He!) and the Last Day, and the terrors which lie before us. We have taken to playfulness and neglect, and to busying ourselves with that which is of no concern to us. We pray God (Exalted is He!) to rouse us from this heedlessness! For truly, the best of states in those who attend funerals is that they should weep for the deceased; moreover, if they had any understanding they would weep for themselves rather than for him.
 -al-Ghazali in The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife. Translated by T. J. Winter (Islamic Texts Society, 1989), 97-98.

Part of the quote was copied from here. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

PRACTICAL SPIRITUALITY: A Study of Ghazali’s ‘Beginning of Guidance’ with Ustadha Zaynab Ansari
This course is a study of Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali’s work entitled The Beginning of Guidance (Bidaya al-Hidaya) on practical steps that a person can take in order to improve his/her spiritual state. The Beginning of Guidance represents an epistle being, as it were, a direct correspondence between Al-Ghazali and one of his disciples. In this gem-filled text, we learn that Islamic spirituality is eminently practical and practicable and is found in the everyday moments of worship and routines of life that all of us—on some level or another—experience. Spirituality in Islam is not an exercise in esotericism, but, instead, the manifestation of applying what we know in the context of who we are and what we do. In other words, spirituality is inextricably linked with our daily realities and is not divorced from our very human experiences and associations. The course will be taught by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, an accomplished teacher and member of the Lamppost Education Initiative board of directors.