FRI 11/11/22: The Beautitudes. And An Abundance of Maryams.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

“It is not in the nature of the finite,

To comprehend the nature of He who is infinite.”

[I remember seeing this quote (I’m probably paraphrasing,) on display of one of the Philosophy/Theology/Ethics classrooms at the sixth form I’d attended. Room 66.

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, who is a very well-known scholar, Maa Shaa Allah, as well as being the founder and dean of the Cambridge Muslim College (at which I’m currently a student, AlHamduliLlah) … he’d attended the famous Westminster School apparently, according to one of my classmates.

This school is just up the road from my old sixth form, which was also in Westminster!]

Descartes understood that we are so fundamentally limited, as human beings.
  • And Descartes, according to a Google search: went to a Jesuit college [Jesuit: a member of the ‘Society of Jesus’, a Roman Catholic order of religious men.] in La Flèche, France.

The education and training we have: an integral part of our personal nurture. Whom we come to be is greatly influenced by such factors.


What would Muhammad (S A W) advise you to do?

‘Find the answers in his Sunnah’.

Yesterday, at 8 PM I had a counselling session over Google Meet.

Towards the very start of starting as an Islamic Studies student here at CMC (the Cambridge Muslim College), I’d asked fellow students who are in the cohort above ours for some advice. For studies / general life management.

Someone, Hamzah, had very kindly sent out an email to all of us First-Years. Containing some exceptional, very beneficial, advice for us all. Beneficial knowledge doesn’t ‘belong‘ to us: we are neither the Originators, nor the ‘gatekeepers’ of it, right?

One of his advices had been:

To seek out therapy, if it might be good: to better our mental (and thus, overall) health. Boost our wellbeing.

Sometimes: we might find that there’s a ‘stigma’ attached to such things. But to have received this advice: I remembered that therapy, counselling, and so on. It’s (can be,) beneficial. Perhaps we ought to talk about it (relatively) confidently, and be open to the benefit that it can so bring to our lives.

  • Life is process. Talking about it; allowing others (who are skilled in such things,) to help us through it. Can really, really help.

The counsellor sister’s name is Maryam. [Maryam: the Qur’anic name for the mother of Jesus (AS)].

Maryam (the counsellor sister) is Malaysian, I think. I’d actually recommend her, and her first sessions are free of charge:

https://www.muslimcounsellor.com

  • I liked how the subject line of the first email I’d received from her, read:

Your Muslimah Counsellor’.

Certainly: we are in need of practising Muslimah counsellors! [Some things I liked about this session with Maryam: she’s able to draw on different psychological approaches, I think. There was a moment when she explained something about human nature, which was an excellent insight. She also said, “but so what?” about something, and I think that helped with my anxious thinking.

Finally, most importantly: she reminded me to pray for what I want, and for Help from Allah.]

  • I had weekly counselling at my secondary school. And at my sixth form. And now, again, AlHamduliLlah. I think: people can easily express… shock, concern. ‘Is everything okay? Why would you need therapy?’

But I think I have a more ‘casual’ approach to it. I just know that I am someone who is prone to ‘overthinking’, and to anxious thoughts, which convince me of their own veracity [veracity: accuracy, truthfulness]. It’s very nice to have conversations with the right people: certainly, sometimes with qualified professionals.


What would Muhammad (S A W) advise that you do?

Well, according to a Hadīth: the Deen is ‘sincere counsel’. We need to be there for our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. We greatly benefit from their sincere advice also.

I think, with my personal situation: the one I am thinking about in particular. Maybe Muhammad (S A W) would have encouraged me to have faith. What’s coming for you is better than what has passed. And your Lord will not let you down.

Things will likely greatly surprise you!

Like how: Zakariyya was very old and weak. And his wife was barren. But he’d never been disappointed in calling out to his Lord. Despite the limits of human ‘rationality’: anything, everything, is easy for our Lord, Allah. He was given a blessed son, Yahya.

And what about Maryam (AS)?

She’d been informed that she was going to have a child. But… how?! No man had ever touched her [‘literalists‘ (may) be like: well, did her father not carry her when she was a baby?].

The ‘immaculate conception’. Completely ‘irrational’, and beyond our personal ’empirical/scientific’ understandings.

Because God only needs to say, “Be!

And: it is.

Surah Maryam in the Qur’an: https://quran.com/maryam.

You can also listen to this beautiful Surah here:


Another Maryam I know is:

James, a fellow CMC student, from the cohort above ours: has a daughter called Maryam. He’d brought her into the college the other day. She’s adorable, Maa Shaa Allah, and laughed so cutely when I said she looks like a princess.

This is something that James posted on the CMC students’ group chat today:

  • The Bible, though it has been changed by human hands over time: has some truly, truly wonderful verses in it.

A Questionnaire For You.

  1. Do you exist?

Y [ ] N [ ] Maybe [ ]

2. If ‘yes’ or ‘no’: how do you know?

__________________________________

3. Do you believe in God?

4. Did you create yourself? What pushed you, as intact and perfect as you so are: to have been made? Was it… your atoms, individually and randomly, themselves? Did any kind of created being… create you?

_____________________________________

3.5. Is there an order to this? Clear evidence of a Supreme Intellect?

5. [From ‘Sacred’ to ‘profane’:]

What’s your favourite type of Coco-Pops? The classic, the disc-like ones, the ‘rock’ ones? Do you even like chocolate? [Do you even exist, to like/dislike Coco-Pops/chocolate?] Did you decide that you like/dislike Coco-Pops? Or, is it part of a pre-Given personal nature of yours, which you are only ever discovering?

_____________________________________


How do you know what you know? How do you know that you know what you know? Etc.

‘Logic’ is a very interesting thing to consider. That we have these human propensities [propensity: a natural tendency to do things, behave, in a particular way] towards language, which is necessary for reasoning.

And so, words, for the human being: are so, so important.

An ape doesn’t have the ability to understand concepts like ‘knowing’. An ape has intuitive understandings: that as a child, it must suckle on its mother. Nobody – but Allah – teaches the ape this.

Generally, apes know to eat, mate, defecate [defecate: … poop.].

But humans: we’re differentiated, and we are

ennobled.

Ādam (AS) was far from being an ‘ape’. And he was given the gift of… language: taught ‘the names of all things’. [See: Qur’an, (2:31)].

How important language is. The first word that Allah had revealed, in His Holy Book:

“Read!”

“Read in the Name of your Lord, who created.


‘Powerless’.

On Wednesday, in Social Sciences, our teacher, Dr Amin, had been talking a bit about motherhood. Our lesson was on Descartes, and… the phenomenon of the ‘Reign of Quanity’, among other things… [The whiteboard looked super cool after our lesson, Maa Shaa Allah. Same with our Logic lesson from today. When a whiteboard looks messy, filled with random and interesting things… Maybe that’s how you know the lesson was especially good!]

What does it mean, to be?

How do you know… that you exist?

Must something be ‘quantifiable’, for it to be said to truly… exist?

[Philosophy, according to my uncle: i.e. when detached from our Islamic epistemological foundations…

It’s just ‘answering questions with more questions‘.]

Anyway. Intuitively, we know we exist, right?

Intuitively, also: the baby who is in his/her mother’s womb. Even though s/he has never suckled on breastmilk before. After having been brought outside of the womb, into the Earth…

The baby knows to start suckling.

Nature is sacred: God’s creations. Creation is amazing, amazing, amazing, and God Alone is the greatest.

Dr. Amin said that, having witnessed (and helped. He said he could become a midwife now,) his wife deliver their child/ren…

It was a moment of deep, profound, contemplation, and Sujūd [Sujūd: prostration. When you put your head on the ground, in submission to Allah] for him. To witness the beauty and profundity of God’s creations, and to feel… ‘powerless’.

Dr. Amin said:

“A woman gives life. […]

This is why men are stupid.

  • The ability to bear creation: is something that Allah has given women, and not men.

The creation of Allah. Subhaan Allah. Glory is His alone.


Man and woman: dualism.

Certain things that Allah has given man: he has not given the same to woman.

And vice versa.

But we do not, and cannot, ascribe ‘modern’, ‘man-made’ ‘laws’ to Allah’s Sunnah [i.e. Way], and to His Law. Besides, when we find ourselves entering to discussions about ‘Islam and Feminism’…

It’s often a matter of assuming the correct perspective.

For instance:

Why do women receive, under Islamic law, less inheritance than men?

In Islam: men must provide for their families. Wives, children, and so on. Yet, for a woman: the money she earns is ‘her money’. The man’s money must go towards the upkeep, maintenance, of the people under/within his locus of responsibility.


Chinese, Jewish, Arabic.

Someone who works at CMC (the Cambridge Muslim College) is: ethnically half-Chinese, half-Jewish, Maa Shaa Allah [to say that someone is ‘Jewish’ is interesting, because people can be Jewish in the religious sense of the word. But also, separately, sometimes: in the ethnic sense of the word].

She’d: been reading Arabic at Cambridge University, Maa Shaa Allah. [Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad also read Arabic there, as far as I know]. And, she’d had some questions, about Judaism: her father’s tradition.

And so she’d gone and spoken to a Rabbi. And didn’t quite appreciate the fact that, for example, this Rabbi hated Jesus (AS). She’d done her research. Ended up going travelling, to a village in Egypt, I think she’d said, where she’d practised her Arabic.

At the hotel, a small Palestinian child (maybe nine years old,) had asked her, in Arabic:

هل انت مسلم

“Are you Muslim?”

And, intuitively: she’d said, yes.

  • She’d officially said her Shahādah… here in Cambridge, Maa Shaa Allah. And currently works at CMC. Speaks Cantonese, as well as Arabic. Wears pretty headscarves. And was speaking the other day, at lunch, about how, linguistically, the Turkish language is closely related to… Korean, and to Japanese! Because of the Mongols [I don’t know why, but for me: it’s easy to get mixed up between the Mongols and the Mughals… Maybe my History teacher can help with that. Her name is… Dr. Mariam. Another Muslimah I know who is named after the blessed Mother of Jesus (AS)!]

After accepting Islam: there was a period of around five years during which this sister had struggled. With her family, with her Islam being approved of. As Muslims: we will be tested. But better, and relief and ease, is surely coming; in the meantime, we are told to pray, and to demonstrate [a beautiful] patience.


Who are you?

Which truths about yourself are so deep, and so true, that you just know?

For me: I know I love… my religion, AlHamduliLlah. And: writing. And: … plants: I have a new plant baby. His name is Max Al-Monstera.

This is from when I sent my dad a picture of his new green grandchild:


Zakāt.

Today (Thursday,) the Cambridge University Islamic Society held a talk with Dr Sohail Hanif, who is CEO of the National Zakat Foundation.

This talk was held remotely, and so I attended it via Zoom.

Some notes:

  • The rules of Islam are easy. To minimise burden. E.g. Dhuhr can be prayed in a matter of a few minutes.
  • There’s much of mercy in Islamic Law

  • As far as Fiqh is concerned, there are 3 types of economy: animal herding [owning at least 3 camels, 30 cows, or 40 sheep. My grandfather in Bangladesh has 2 or 3 cows: random but true.]; agriculture; trade and services.

  • The minimum you have to own, to have to pay Zakāt: is called the Nisāb threshold.
  • If your Zakatable assets – (minus) your liabilities = (are equal to, or above) the Nisāb, then you pay Zakāt
  • “Use the measure of calculation that is most advantageous to the poor.” So: many have used silver measure, rather than gold. About £400, rather than £4000. But with current costs of living: £400 isn’t enough to make you ‘wealthy’.
  • We live in a strange time: ‘debt economy’. What about Zakāt on long-term debts?

Zakāt recipients must be: a) poor, i.e. below Nisāb in superfluous [superfluous: more than ‘enough’.] wealth, and b) Muslim, and c) non-Hāshimi [out of respect. But they shouldn’t be suffering as a result of this rule. They can be helped via other funds]. [Zakāt collectors can also be given Zakāt, as a salary for their public service.]

*You can’t give Zakāt to close relations.


On Thursdays, at CMC:

We have our lessons in the upstairs hall of the neighbouring church.

Today, I met a woman called Eva. She’s ethnically Romanian, and she sells ‘Big Issue’ magazines outside a local Sainsbury’s.

[In my head, I can feel quite awkward/anxious when… talking to people. But I still often like to do so anyway, because some things are very worth it, AlHamduliLlah.]

Eva: said she knows some things about Islam. [Perhaps it is one of the very first things that people notice about Muslim women who wear headscarves: our apparent Muslim-ness!]

She said that she used to be Muslim. But then her mother passed, and her father had abandoned her. Leaving her in the care of her auntie, who’d accepted Christianity.

Eva said she has a ‘little brother’. But: he’s actually… her aunt’s son [awwwwww!]. She loves him very much; he’s like her baby, like my little brother is mine. [And like my cousin… Maryam… She has a little brother called… Isa. Which is the Qur’anic name for Jesus, Yeshua].

Eva isn’t on benefits, she said: she works, by selling these magazines. She comes from Ipswich to Cambridge, and holds her auntie’s pitch here: currently, her aunt is sick.

She, Eva, also spoke about how she passes the big masjid (AKA mosque) here in Cambridge, walking: the beautiful ‘eco’ one. She wasn’t sure if she’d be allowed inside. But: yes. That masjid, which I think Shaykh Abdal Hakim had the initial idea for, is open to visitors. Christian, atheist… Schools, random visits…

You can even enjoy a complimentary tea/coffee in its café area.

Eva said that she’s Christian, but that just like me, she’s a monotheist. Islam and Christianity: we’re really not so ‘far apart’, fundamentally, theologically. True followers of Jesus: put their heads down in Sujūd. To God alone.

She wondered if it’s… a ‘problem’ for me, am I alright with it, that I have some lessons in the local church. It’s not a problem for me. I love Jesus, and I also worship Whom he’d worshipped.


We should never place human beings on complete ‘pedestals’. We’re all… earthly beings, made of earth.

But: what is, Subhaan Allah, very interesting about the life of Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad is that…

He’s a revert to Islam, who’s (presumably,) from a quite well-to-do British background, Maa Shaa Allah. Went to Westminster, and to Cambridge. Allah acquainted him with, Chose to acquaint him with, the Truth: and he’s an academic of religious studies at Cambridge University, founder and dean of CMC, and also had the idea for the Cambridge Central Masjid.

Allah hummabārik. The Shaykh also studied for a while, I think I’d read somewhere, at a masjid that is local to me, in East London. My grandad used to frequent this masjid. A primary school classmate of mine had been, I remember, learning/memorising the Qur’an there.

My uncle, my mum’s younger brother, also visits this masjid from time to time, I think.

The Shaykh’s wife, Shaykha Nabila, is in charge of welfare at CMC. She also runs a group for people who are homeless in Cambridge, as far as I know. As well as something for Muslims who are reverts: a group called the Cambridge Crescent.


Back to speaking about my uncle: my mum’s younger brother…

He is a man who really just ‘does his thing’. Keeps to his own, minds his own business. As far as professions go: he works in the field of Finance. At the intersection between Finance and Law.

He doesn’t ‘boast’ about things, but: it’s very nice to share things, with the right people.

[Please ignore my ’43 unread messages’. I’ve informally been diagnosed with ADHD by my housemate, who is doing a placement at the University of Cambridge, Department of Psychiatry…]


In Arabic, the words for ‘place’ and ‘time’ are:

Makaan’ and ‘Zamaan‘.

The word for ‘their homelands’ is:

Someone in my class at CMC: had been speaking about how someone who’d been brought up in America, I think he’d said, had been sent to his [father’s?] homeland for a while. There: in Palestine, he’d been woken up by an Israeli soldier who’d pointed a gun in his face. And that incident had changed him.


Certainly: there is something good in the struggle.

It’s not ’embarrassing’ to ‘admit to’ experiences of struggling mental health: even Ya’qub (AS) [AKA ‘Jacob’] cried and cried when his son had been parted from him. He’d been told his son was dead. But perhaps intuitively, he knew otherwise. And that God would not let him down. And that God is With the broken-hearted.

What about the blessed Maryam (AS) when, during the amazing, though uniquely arduous [arduous: difficult, tiring,] process of giving birth to her blessed son…

She’d wished that she’d been dead. Perhaps on account of the pain; perhaps also on account of her grief, because the people were slandering her. But God gave her something far, far better. He Cured all of her anxieties, as well as Ya’qub’s. And had given them far better than what they themselves could’ve possibly been expecting.

Your pain, Dear Reader, is not in vain…

What God has Planned for you, after your wait, your patience, your sadness…

You have got to live, to see it. It’ll take you by complete surprise: and it will be absolutely wonderful.

Verily, after/with difficulty, there is [lots of] ease.’


Now, here is a spiced apple tart that Anjum, who is in Year 3 at CMC, had made this morning, Maa Shaa Allah:


Allah is With you.

Beyond your (very human) limits, and… our limited foresight [foresight: the ability to predict what will happen/what will be needed in the future]. He is Allah.

[I actually ended up reading this very Surah: Surah Maryam. In the church yesterday. When nobody (but perhaps some Jinn who are Christian,) had been around. The hall of this church: the walls are bare. There are no attempted ‘pictures of Mary/Jesus’ there.]

2 comments

  1. “You have got to live, to see it. It’ll take you by complete surprise: and it will be absolutely wonderful.” I recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder together with Borderline Personality Traits. For the past few days were horrible and I really wanna give up. I keep calling for Him for an answers. Somehow, what you have wrote, that i quoted above, give a glimpse of hope to me. Thank you.

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