Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Symbolism of Quranic Illumination

Syed Tajammul Hussain

The lecturer suggested that this was a sacred visual language and which owed its origins and indeed early development to not one but two of the Khulafa-i-Rashideen, both of whom also were the revered sons in law of the Holy Prophet. For indeed with the evidence so far unearthed it is clear that the earliest Art of the Quran started with the first son in law, the 3rd Khalifa Uthman bin Affan and then was developed by the 4th Khalifa Imam Ali. Subsequent developments took place in the ensuing centuries with the involvement of BOTH temporal and indeed spiritual authorities of the time. Hence any symbol that was frowned upon or considered heretic was destroyed. Over time rules and regulations developed for both the visual language and on the art of calligraphy.

The lecture discussed the development of the main symbols known as alphabets in this visual language of the Holy Quran. The earliest symbol used is the Shamsa which came to be used in the time of the 3rd Khalifa. This is the symbol of the radiant sun was used to indicate a certain number of verse counts and suggested that the Verses of the Quran were like radiant with light. Since radiance was being depicted, the symbol of the sun was thus used in the Quran in the very early period and still continues to be used even in these dark times for Verse endings.

c. This material is copyrighted and subject of a forthcoming book by the lecturer Syed Tajammul Hussain.

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Buy Book:  Splendours of Quran Calligraphy & Illumination, Martin Lings

Monday, February 15, 2010


Islam and the Destiny of Man

Penned by Gai Eaton, the aim of this book is to explore what it means to be a Muslim, a member of a community.. and to describe the forces that have shaped the hearts and minds of Islamic peoples.

After considering the historic confrontation between Islam and Christendom and analysing the three monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), the author describes the two poles of Muslim belief in terms of 'Truth' and 'Mercy'.

In the second part of the book he explains the significance of the Quran and tells the dramatic story of Muhammad's life and of the early Caliphate.

Lastly the author considers the Muslim view of man's destiny, the social structure of Islam, the role of art and mysticism amd the inner meanings of Islamic teachings concerning the Hereafter.

Gai Eaton, a former member of the Brisitsh Diplomatic Service, was brought up as an agnostic and embraced Islam at an early age after writing a book on Eastern religions and their influence upon Western thinkers.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Remembering God: Reflections on Islam

Remembering God: Reflections on Islam by Gai Eaton. Published by Suhail Academy.
The main ideas behind Remembering God are that religion is not an isolated part of human life which can be disregarded at will and without a profound analysis of the most urgent concerns and questions facing us at the beginning of the twenty-first century. 

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Understanding Shia Sunni Dialogue

Sulaiman: How and when did the Shias come into existence? Was it after the demise of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and after the consultation of Saqifah Bani Saada where the successor of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was selected? Was it a result of the confrontation between Ali (karam allaho wajhohoo) and Muawiya? Or did it come about due to the murder of Imam Husain (a.s.) at Karbala? Or was it was due to confrontation between the companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that the Shias broke away from the main community of the Muslims?

Ja’far: It is wrong to view Shias as a breakaway group that separated from the main body of the Muslims due to a particular incident like that of the false entity of Abdullah Ibne saba. The word ‘Shia’ was originally used with the meaning of ‘helper’ and ‘supporter’. Historical occurrences are different and to have a particular opinion about something is different. Shiaism denotes a school of thought that is related to the teachings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). It also indicates the source of guidance after the passing away of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Is it possible that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) left the world without providing clear-cut instructions to his followers as regards the leadership of the community? But after the demise of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) two types of views emerged. One believed that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) had appointed his Caliph on the basis of Divine instructions. The second view was that the Caliphate of the Prophet is a prerogative of the people (Shura).
The differing views caused a division in the Muslim community. Some followed the former and the rest followed the latter view. A series of incidents led to majority of the people aligning themselves with the latter view. The Shia school of thought was banished from the mainstream of the society. These people believed that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) had declared his successor a number of times. He even indicated the name of Ali (a.s.). He also ordered the people to follow Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). As regards the Shura we already know that it denotes the selection of the Caliph through election by the majority of the people. So let us see why the Shias support the former view?

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Reduction of Human Nature

Modernism And Postmodern Thought  Omar K N
When the modern perception of reality had thus been reduced to the material and profane level, it also reduced human nature to its physical and psychological aspects, only. 

However the soul is not only a psychic entity, but first of all a spiritual one, which is its principal aspect. This is according to the teaching of all world traditions or metaphysical doctrines:

Thus man has (not two but) *three* levels of being:
the physical, the psychic or psychological and the spiritual.

The organ for the spiritual is mentioned in the words of German theologian Meister Eckehart (d.1327): 

"There is something in the soul, which is not created and not possible to create (increatum et increabile); if the whole soul were such, it would be not created and not possible to create; and this is the Intellect (intellectus)."

This modernist 'development' therefore stripped man off his divine, sacred potential. It led to a concept of human nature which is "too unstable, changing and turbulent to be able to serve as the principle for something" or anything at all, because it is grounded on the emotional and often irrational levels of being.

This tendency to reduce human nature can even be observed in some overtly exoteric religious circles - influenced by modernism itself, where there may be lipservice to the Divine, but in practice great focus on moral, behavioural or political issues, neglecting the essential demands of the Divine Law, in respect to inner transformation and spiritual striving.