Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Pictures of Banbury Living ...

The Banbury Town Centre.....on the 25th....thus the deserted roads! Went on a stroll at lunch time to clear my head....though it was chilled and had to rush back for much needed chai....

The Brothers quarters at the Mosque, here we ate sleep and drank @ the Winter Halaqa 2008! To the left where the brother in white appears to be prostrating is where my I sleep! Through the curtain at the back to the right is where the Main Hall of the Mosque is situated.

After one of the the Question and Answer session Brother Omar asks Shaykh Samir Al Nass a question, think it was on "Black Magic"....with his helper to the left and the Banbury host "rude bhoy" to the right (not sure whos kid that is...)

Friday "Mafia" Night, suspects close in hand, Talhat, Shezzad out of the picture, with the others in the circle discussing suspects.

Traditional Halaqa - Banbury (20th Dec 2008 - 28th Dec 2008)

Traditional Halaqa Winter 9 Day course in Banbury was a very enlightening experience. Words don't do justice to the vast experience and heightened knowledge this Halaqa has bestowed upon me, thanks to the Majesty of Allah (swt), I am ever so grateful for the shining light that has now stroke a cord through thee heart.

The trip to Banbury was a straight forward drive and the the road was like a beacon of light, on the Saturday of the 20th December 2008 one I will never forget. I made my intention on Jummah Day the previous day that I will attend. Having never stepped out of my comfort zone for a Halaqa of this magnitude, I had 100% faith in Allah (swt) that he would give me the strength and Sabr to get through the course. So A406, A40, M40 and from the virtues of Mr Thomas Thomas, I was in Banbury Mosque registering in the just before the time of Asr Salat (all in around 80 minutes).

After the Introduction from the organisers Ash-Shifa Trust and then meeting the other Brothers that had already arrived. First and foremost met 2 reverts, and it did cross my mind then whether I did actually come to the right course. This doubt settled down once I saw the sub-continent submerge in their usual desi timing coming any time before night break! With the rear guard being taken by the Brothers later known as the "Lutonians" and given their attendance in recent events, they are known to be the late ones! So watch this space.

Shaykh Abdul Aziz opened the Winter Halaqa with an excellent speech and introduction and welcoming the students (some old and many new). Never met this Shaykh before but I tell you his face is so radiant with light. You see the light shining from a mile away and the smile is ever so encapsulating. Alhamdulillah. He had many stories to tell and all amazing you can listen to him all night and day. MashaAllah.

Shaykh Khaleed - He was a Leiceter man, and his looks are very deceptive, when he opends his mouth, the leicester in him comes out. He gave the Halaqa much to think about on the first day with Duas and Supplications and also covered the benefits of learning the deen and Aqeeda from the Hadith Al-Gabriel (Rules and regulations derived from the hadith) which covered the foundations of your imaan (qaid).

He noted a few

Al Ratib Al Shahir:
This consists of to name a few, Surah Fatiha, Last Ruku of Surah Baqara, Ayatul Qursi, Surat Falaq, Surat Nas and many others. The Halaqa group recited this every day after our Maghrib Salat which was great Masha'Allah. It was really inspiring and gave us much energy to continue though to the depths of the evening classses.

Ones to increase your knowledge (Ilm):

سُبْحَانَكَ لاَ عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلاَّ مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ
Subhanaka la 'ilma lana 'illa ma 'allamtana 'innaka 'antal-'Alimul Hakim
Glory be to you, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us.
Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise

[surah Baqarah; 2:32]

رَبِّ زدْنيِ عِلْماً وَ رْزُقْنيِ فَهْماً
Rabbi zidni 'ilman war zuqni fahman
O Allah! Advance me in Knowledge and true understanding

Tips from Shaykh Khaleed:

"...every knowledge you recieve never have pride in it; it is better to think you have no knowledge; as Allah (swt) in the one with all the knowledge"

"...never have pride with the knowlegde of the deen, when you get rid of this you will be elevated and this will increase your modesty"

How to do this:
-Remember that us humans have been made out of dirt/dust
-We will be raised up again
-Constantly ask Allah (swt) to remove the pride in us
-Serve the community of Allah (swt) by doing the jobs that no one wants to do; this will get rid of pride/arrogance and you will become endowed with humility.

In the evening I unpacked my mini-suitcase, consisted of the Quran, Arabic and English translation, Jubba, khaki pants, 3 t-shirts, 6 boxers, and the usual toiletries, and oh yes the all important sleeping bag and pillows.

The course officially started on Sunday the 21st December 2008 with the classes in full swing. With the time-table looking fully jammed between 7am - 10pm for all days. Mind you there was enough break in between to get the blood circulating around the legs which was muy necessario especially given we were crossed legged the first two days, not something you get taught in comprehensive UK schools I must add.

Course Content:
Hanifi Fiqh - Covering Water, Wudu, Ghusl, Salat, Jammat Salat, Eid Salat, Funeral Salat
Akhlak - A Pure Heart
Seerah - Chronological Overview of the Life of our Beloved Prophet Mohammed (SAW).

Teachers include:
Shaykh Samir Al Nass, Shaykh Tanveer & Hussain Shaykh Thaqib

Highlights of the Course:
  • Beloved Prophet Mohammed (SAW) Hair at the Banbury Mosque - the Mosque embraced the arrival of the hair from the Prophet (pbuh) on Thursday Night (Jummah Night). There was 3 hours of Mowlouds done over the course of the evening, it was absolutely breathtaking ended up in the car park trailing the car taking the Prophets (SAW) hair on my bare feet. It was later noted that there was no shadow when a torch was pointed to the hair, this is reconciled with the Prophet not having a shadow as narrated in the various Hadiths.
  • Tajweed Lessons - Shaykh Samir Al Nass & Shaykh Tanveer - this only happened once for the men or rather boys of the group, as men became boys when they sat down to recite with a pedigree of Shaykh Samir person who has ijazah n 10 style of recitations on the narration of Shatibiyyah and Durra from Shaykh Muhammad Sukr. This was evident when a brother completely lost his words of Surat Fatiha just being in the presence of a scholar like Shaykh Samir. Shakyh Tanveer was no pushover either but compared to Shaykh Samir, it was much the better option. Good luck to the sisters that has the rest fo the week with SS I say.
  • Seerha Lessons - Shaykh Thaqib - I recall when we went into the 10 year of Al-Hijra, this brought tears to the whole class. You can hear a pin drop when the Shaykh Thaqib recalled the account of Abu Talib and Khadijah (RA) passing away within days of each other, to leave our Prophet to (SAW) to send the message without two of the most favoured people that have helped him to date not there besided him.
  • Surat Yaseen recitation after Fajr - with Shaykh Samir -This surat is to be recited each day preferable straight after Fajr. The Surah is knows as the heart of the Qur'an. It is to be recited when a new child enters the World, so s/he becomes a Saheeh child. To those that leave the dunya, it should be recited too them too.
  • Question & Answer Sessions - Shaykh Samir Al Nass & Shaykh Abdul Aziz - these session were really good with Q&As on aspects as varied from Aqeedah, Fiqh, Dawah Issues, Struggles with our Deen, Temptations from our Nafs, and some very personal accounts too. Mind you the anonymity was an excellent idea and some Qs definitely need to be. Alhamdullilah.
  • Closing Ceremony and Gifts: This was the students paying our respects to the Teachers for their time out and efforts.
Few notes from the course....:-)

(1) Blinds...
It was like Blind Date with the partitioning of the walls inside the Mosque during classes and Q&As, which was something I did not experience before in prior courses. This was at first weird for me given you can only hear voices, but as I grew more into the course it gradually saw the real merits of this practice, and the beauty of it both from a Male and Female Perspective. Alhamdullilah.

(2) Games...
Morning madness with all groups there are the 'weird' ones, the comedians they like to be regarded as, or more clown, no doubt I am one of thee! So a Brother who had a tune called "Its your Wife" belted this monstrosity from his mobilo into the ears of those laying in the cushions wakening well after the Fajr Azzan! Yes many a time I was on the receiving end of this albeit with the sub woofers sticking out of the top of the sleeping quarters were large enough to deafen you was not enough from the Azaan.

There was lots of wrestling going on with the younger folks in the Mosque quarters during the late evening right up to the morning, so lack of sleep was a product of this.
No doubt the coke on tap at the Mosque was a direct source of this hyperactivity in

On the Friday night, we had an 'all nighter', not on the town but across the car park at the Ash-Shifa School. The sisters were out of sight and definitely out of mind, so the brothers got their Wii out and ordered Pizza. We ended up playing a group dynamic game of "Mafia" and this went on and got rather interesting into the early hours of 3am. 3 Hours later were up and brothers were feeling it on Saturday with sore heads!

It was really sad leaving the Halaqa met so many Brothers there and made lots of friends and contacts. This was a stepping stone increase my Ilm of my Deen Insha'Allah. Long road ahead May Allah Keep Us All on the Seeratul Mustaqeem. Ameen.