Friday, 29 February 2008

Book Review: Imam Abu Hanifa's Al-Fiqh al-Akbar Explained

Title: Imam Abu Hanifa's Al-Fiqh al-Akbar Explained
Compiled and Translated with an Introduction by: Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf
Publisher: White Thread Press (June 2007)
Language: English (with the original Arabic text included at the beginning of each chapter)
Pages: 240

Excellent book on Islamic creed, the focus of which, naturally, is divine oneness (tawheed). The book served well to refine my understanding of the Creator, the Prophets, Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), the Companions (RA), the Qur'an, predestination, the realities of this life, the events of the Hereafter and related matters.

The book is comprehensive but yet very clear and concise; presented in a well-structured manner and written in language accessible to people of all levels. Definitely worth purchasing, reading and returning to time and time again.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Has Political Participation Failed British Muslims?

I attended this debate yesterday put on by the Cordoba Foundation. Alhamdulillah, they put together an excellent line-up of panelists (Lord Nazir Ahmad (member of the House of Lords), Osama Saeed (political activist and parliamentary hopeful), Dr Abdul Wahid (chairman Hizb-at-Tahrir UK), Makbool Javaid (human rights lawyer)) and the debate itself was very insightful and educating.

Some of the key points that I picked up from both sides were as follows:
- We have to engage in the political process, at every level. Not engaging and isolating ourselves is nonsensical.
- To be accepted we would have to sell-out and make compromises of we are and what we believe in.
- There have been many successes resulting from us participating in the political process, e.g. state-funded Muslim schools, Islamic finance options etc.
- We shouldn't be naive and should take example from other communities. For example, the black community in America has black people in top positions in many political spheres but the general state of living of black people is very very bad indeed.

Note that I have not attributed the points to particular speakers. I do not think it would be right to do so, since what I have typed is my understanding of the points and not necessarily what the speakers may have intended.

The debate wrapped up with a vote from the audience and those listening on radio at home. The result was as follows:
- Those in favour of the motion (i.e. political participation has failed British Muslims): 78%
- Those against: 14%
- Those undecided: 8%

A landslide victory. Shocking, no?

Monday, 25 February 2008

Effective Teaching Methodology in Madrassahs

In continuation of the Mosque 100 Programme organised by the Muslim Council of Britain, I attended this workshop yesterday aimed to better the approach of our Madrassah teachers and organisers, not in terms of academic curriculum but in a sense of making our Madrassahs places where children feel happy and willing to come and learn.

During the three-hour workshop, advice was given on boosting student morale, keeping pupils happy and satisfied, instilling in pupils self-respect, winning the hearts of pupils and promoting sentiments of loyalty and devotion in the children.

Two areas that received particular extended attention, and rightfully so, was behaviour education and child abuse. The former discussion focused around knowing and understanding the role and need for strategies that contribute to good behaviour (topics included management style, behaviour policy, statement of ethos, role of the curriculum, rules, procedures on failing to uphold the rules, role of parents and environment). The second discussion highlighted the different types of abuse (physical, psychological, emotional), its signs (i.e. how we can recognise it is taking place) and the various negative effects it has on children.

Overall, despite not being a Madrassah teacher, I found great benefit in attending and came away with a lot of ideas to try and apply in my youth work.

May Allah reward all those involved in setting up and running this programme with a reward better and more lasting.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

A Tear-Jerking Encounter

I popped down to a magistrate's court earlier today to sit and listen in to the hearing of a couple of individuals who wrongfully spent a number of years in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, only for them to come home and face a bizarre extradition request from the Spanish. The court was full so I didn't manage to get inside. However, whilst there I had a conversation with an old lady that left a lasting impression. She spoke in a very soft slow polite tone and told me how she has been actively involved in humanitarian work for over 50 years, balancing it with her family commitments she added. What affected me most was not her stories nor her involvement but the fact that for the entire 15 minutes we spoke her eyes were filled with tears. Her concern and selflessness was humbling and a real inspiration.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

M100 Programme - Project Management

Just attended the third installment of the Mosque 100 Programme, organised by the Muslim Council of Britain and conducted by Oak Community Development. The topic of today's workshop was Project Management. Like the first two, I found it to be pretty beneficial. There was a fair bit of overlap with the Strategic Planning & Visioning workshop but this served well as an opportunity for revision. Key lessons learnt today were wrt getting a project started, managing the process and project closure.

The workshop included a couple of nice exercises. The first was a group exercise to introduce 'problem trees'. This involved identifying a problem (we chose 'the high intake of youths to crime'), breaking the problem down into possible causes and sub-causes (e.g. lack of identity, poor education, family problems etc) and then doing a means-ends analysis to identify solutions (e.g. access to good role models, encouraging able individuals to take to the teaching profession, marriage training etc). The second exercise was to fill in a Belbin Self Perception Inventory, which is a series of multiple-choice questions designed to identify what team role a person is best suited for (e.g. Company Worker, Chairperson, Resource Investigator etc).

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Exploring Your Career Options

I attended this transferable skills workshop (Exploring Your Career Options) earlier in the week. If anything came out of it for me, it was this: my life is an unfocused mess! Time to prioritise and commit full throttle or decommit as the case may be.

But then, if I am honest with myself, am I able to stand by and see things around me possibly (key word: "possibly") fall into a mess and not jump in?