Lecture Tour with Dr Umar Abd-Allah

The Radical Middle Way is pleased to present a lecture tour by Dr Umar Faruq Abd-Allah.

Dr Umar, who is the Chair and Scholar in Residence at the Nawawi Foundation, Chicago, is one of the most creative and inspiring scholars in the West today.

He will visit London, Bradford, Birmingham and Liverpool between 16-26th November 2006.

Admission is free to all events, except the conference on Fatherhood. 

To read Dr Umar Abd-Allah’s biography, click here.  


Cultural Jihad – Making Islam Matter

17th November 2006
7 pm – 9.30 pm
Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London
[see location]

Keynote address: Dr Umar F Abd-Allah
Respondents: Aki Nawaz (Fun-Da-Mental), Naz Koser (Ulfah Arts) and Peter Sanders (the Photographer)
Discussion with audience and photo slide show by Peter Sanders

Brief: For Muslims living in the West the future lies not in the tinkering of theology but in the production of culture. But how is this process of cultural relevancy to take place? Is it taking place? What are its discernible forms? What are the challenges that need to be surmounted before a genuine cultural expression takes root? And what and who is to define what is ‘genuine’? To what extent is cultural output in Islamic civilisation a utilitarian exercise? In the global village of specialised economies and shared global tastes where does the process of being consumers stop and that of being producers of culture begin? What needs to be done to convert Western society to associate Islam with the beauty of the Taj Mahal and the Majesty of the Dome of the Rock rather than with the blasted Twin Towers of New York or the shattered Buddhist statues in Afghanistan? Can we develop an agenda of cultural do’s that would harness the energy of our young people – to teach them that singing, creating, beautifying and being joyous are all part of the Islamic agenda? 

This event is brought to you with City Circle and Islamic Circles.

Cultural Jihad – Making Islam Matter

18th November 2006, 6.30 pm
Bradford Central Mosque, Darfield Street, Bradford, BD1 3RU
Tel: 07813884167

Keynote address: Dr Umar F Abd-Allah
Respondent: Rasjid Skinner
Brief: As above



Course on Living According to the Priorities of Islamic Law

19th November 2006, 10 am – 5 pm

with Dr Umar Abd-Allah and Shaykh Ibrahim Osi Efa

Liverpool Hope University
Lecture Theatre A
Lecture Theatre Complex
Taggart Avenue,
Hope Park, Childwall,
Liverpool, L16 9JD

Register for free here.

Brief: “Living According to the Priorities of Islamic Law” examines the basic maxims (al-qawa’id al-kulliyya) of Islamic law in the context of the three overall priorities the Islamic legal system (necessity, need, and betterment). Legal maxims number in the hundreds and represent the most functional _expression of Islamic legal theory, because they relate pragmatically to the day-to-day application of positive law. The maxims lay down practical guidelines about how Islam is to be applied in unusual situations, what its primary objectives are, and what kinds of errors are to be avoided. As a rule the maxims are expressed succinctly in the form of aphorisms like “culture is second nature” and have far-reaching legal implications. The great maxims of Islamic law—especially the five core maxims stated below—are matters of consensus between all Islamic schools of law, Sunni and Shi’a. No other genre of the law can boast of such extensive scholarly agreement.

We will focus on the five standard maxims, which all schools of Islamic law recognize as the backbone of the law:
   1. Things are judged by their objectives
   2. Certainty is not be removed by doubt
   3. Hardship brings alleviation
   4. Harm shall be removed
   5. Customary usage has weight of law

Although technical ijtihad is the province of legal scholars, every Muslim is required to perform basic ijtihad about which scholars are worthy of being heeded and which are not. The ability to make informed judgments about approaches to the law and protecting oneself from unreasonable opinions constitutes a modicum of Islamic literacy that every Muslim must have. Each of us must have a sound sense of what Islam stands for and what it does not. The five core maxims help lay this foundation and constitute an indispensable element of Islamic literacy. 


“Searching for Dad: Exploring Muslim Fatherhood”

23rd November 2006, All day
Paddington Hilton Hotel

Brief: Dr Umar Abd-Allah will deliver the keynote address at the UK’s first Muslim Fatherhood conference. His address, entitled “Father versus Patriarch: The Socio-Political Ramifications of Parenthood” will explore the theological and spiritual dimensions of fatherhood as embodied in the Islamic non-gender specific concept of God and the model of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). It will also focus on the nature of the nurturing father and its social-psychological and political implicationespecially in terms of helping to thwart right-wing political ideologies and propensities.

Participants must pay a fee to attend. For more details, click here.


“Can’t Cook. Won’t Cook. Don’t know how to cook.”

24th November 2006, 6.30 pm
London School of Economics (Room no. G108), Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE
Nearest tube: Holborn

Brief: Could there be a more frustrating issue plaguing our young people than gender relations? How long can the first gaze be? Can I shake hands with a member of the opposite sex? Why can’t I find a wife or a husband? Why do I break out into a sweat each time my eyes meet that of a Muslim sister/brother, and yet it’s easy to talk to Sally, Mandy or Tom? What if we just want to be friends? Why are all the good men and women taken? Why is everyone marrying ’back home’? I’m too successful – why won’t anyone marry me? What does it mean to be an ideal husband or wife?

Join Dr Umar Abd-Allah in an open, honest and informal discussion.

This event is brought to you by the LSE Islamic Society, with Islamic Circles.

25th November 2006

The Veiled Truth: Famous Women of Islam
25th November 2006,
1 – 3 pm
St Cyprians Memorial Hall, Fordrough Bridge, Haymills, B25 8DL
Opposite Small Heath Asda (Next to ’Next’ the clothes shop!)

Brief: What does it mean to have Muslim women who speak with authority? Dr Umar will comment on the current fascination with Muslim women and the problems of both the “mainstream” and Muslim approach to women. Dr Umar will draw on selected stories of his ground-breaking work, Famous Women of Islam, to challenge conventional notions of Muslim women – both Muslim and non-Muslim.

Islamic Extremism in the Context of Globalism
25th November 2006,

Right after Isha prayer
Birmingham Central Mosque, 180 Belgrave Middleway, Highgate, Birmingham, B12 0XS

Brief: “Islamic Extremism in the Context of Globalism” focuses on three elements: issues, ideology, and the social psychology of “globalized religion.”

Extremism is not restricted to Muslims but is equally prevalent today among Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Secularists. Among Muslims and others, extremism is a peripheral, albeit perilous phenomenon. Within all groups, it is represented by different camps. It takes on different forms of expression, diverse responses, and is neither internally nor externally monolithic. Nevertheless, some generalizations are possible regarding the phenomenon in today’s globalised world.

Muslim extremists and their Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Secular counterparts have several features in common. They identify strongly with charismatic leaders, are communalistic, and thrive on a strong “we-feeling” based around their leadership. Their worldviews are black-and-white and sharply dichotomous; they foster unquestioned allegiance to the group and antipathy toward the Other. “Globalised” religious extremists are generally anti-intellectual and anti-theological in a traditional sense. They are averse to the “higher” tradition of their faith, although they justify their innovations through selective retrieval from tradition and atypical interpretations of revelatory texts. The personal religiosity of religious extremists is primarily individualistic and experiential; it roots itself in a sectarian sense of solidarity with the group and the “we-versus-them-feeling” that it inspires. Today’s extremists adopt an idealistic (ahistorical) picture of the past and apocalyptic vision of the future, which lies at the base of their social and political strategies. They have a sharp sense of immediate crisis engendered by the modern world, yet utilize its most advanced technologies—generally with great sophistication—to execute their ends.

“Islamic Extremism in the Context of Globalism” concludes with a search for solutions. All the three essential elements of extremism—grievances, ideology, and social psychology—must be effectively addressed. It is a grave mistake, however, to regard globalized religion as we know it as something unique to our age. Similar developments have happened before in the history of world religions when powerful political and economic realities—as in the Roman Empire—amalgamated vastly diverse ethnic and religious groups in a unified world system. Such precedents provide insight for the future. One of these is that the religious and secular extremisms we face today must be treated as essentially default positions in the absence of satisfactory alternatives.

As Muslims, we are required to restate Islam’s Middle Way as embodied in mainstream Islamic culture and civilization over the centuries. Our vision of the Middle Way must be authentic, articulate, and fully relevant to the pluralistic realities of the global age. But abstract formulations of worldviews are never effective in the abstract; they need human faces that embody them in the eyes of the people like the movements of Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. Merely giving directions to the Middle Way is not enough; our communities must cultivate and bring to the forefront a generation of charismatic men and women who embody that path and are role models for others.