The meaning behind the name

Question: What is the meaning behind the name “Civilisations”?

Sheikh Ridhwan: The word “Civilisations” is important because, for me, it is the meaning of “Ummah” in the Quranic paradigm. And the idea of Ummah is quite central to our Quranic worldview.

When the Quran refers to “Al-Ummam” it is sometimes translated as “Nations” or “a People” but if you really think about it, the best translation would be “Civilisations”. This is because a Nation/a People usually refers to a body of people at a certain time, however, the Ummah of Rasullalah (s.a.w) is not a static point in time. Rather, it exists from the time of the Sahaba to our time; it has a historical dimension. Therefore, I think the best definition for “Ummah” in the English language would be “Civilisations”.

People always argue about the definitions of everything, but one of the definitions of “Civilisation”, according to social scientists, is that it refers to the largest cultural grouping you can belong to. Your Civilisation provides your worldview, and you cannot belong to two different civilisations at the same time. For British Muslims like us, this forces us to think about whether we belong to Islamic or Western Civilisation. In some ways we occupy the borderlands- definitions always have fuzzy edges, especially in the social sciences. Can we belong to both? Can we be both Western and Islamic at the same time? My contention is that we cannot, simply by the definition of Civilisation agreed upon. For example, within the Islamic Civilisation we have certain attitudes and beliefs towards things like gender and homosexuality. Western Civilisation have their own attitudes, beliefs and values towards such issues, and there is no way the two can be reconciled, in my opinion. Therefore, the concept of Civilisations has a lot of importance in relation to the three courses we teach.

Is the internet turning us into robots? (July Newsletter)

Synopsis of "The Shallows" by Nicholas Carr

Carr differentiates between the “literary mind” of pre-industrial times which placed value on the ability of a human to sit and think deeply for a long time, thereby coming up with original, creative ideas or solutions to complex problems, and the mind of the industrial revolution and beyond...

Click here to see the July 2020 Civilisations newsletter.


Uploaded video: the true age of Sayyida Aisha when she married was over fifteen

Sheikh Ridhwan presents convincing evidences from the earliest and most reliable sources that Sayyida Aisha was over 15 years old (not just 9) when her marriage to the Prophet (peace be upon him) was consummated. The evidences are presented here with full references. Lecture given at Faith Inspire, Hounslow Muslim Centre, in Rabi thani 1441, December 2019. The accompanying article is found here. 

Civilisations newsletter Dhul Hijja 1440/Aug 2019

As-Salam 'alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh,

Welcome to the first Civilisations newsletter! If you are receiving this email it is because you attended the history and/or geopolitics course or have signed up for the courses via our website, so first and foremost we’d like to thank you wholeheartedly for your attendance, support and interest. The running of the course depends on support from eager students like you, so thank you!
Don’t worry, we’re not planning on flooding your inbox with a load of emails. These newsletters will be sent out from time to time as a way for us to keep in touch and keep you up to date with everything going on.
We’re  planning  on  running  the  occasional  history  seminar,  which  will  be announced in these newsletters, so keep an eye out for that!

Message from Sheikh Ridhwan:

In the last geopolitics class, I mentioned that the Quran contains amazing sociological 'laws' or sunan, which give us a unique insight into the fate of societies and civilisations.

When we see a society that is prospering and wealthy, and seem to have all the worldly advantages, we may mistakenly believe that they are being favoured by Allah. We mentioned this in our discussion about the wealth of modern, global, capitalist civilisations. But the Quran gives an ominous warning in regard to being deluded by such appearances.

For example:

"We have sent already unto peoples that were before thee, and We visited them with tribulation and adversity, in order that they might grow humble. (42) If only, when Our disaster came on them, they had been humble! But their hearts were hardened and the devil made all that they used to do seem fair unto them! (43) Then, when they forgot that whereof they had been reminded, We opened unto them the gates of all things till, even as they were rejoicing in that which they were given, We seized them unawares, and lo! they were dumbfounded". (6:44)

And also:

"Let not the vicissitude (of the success) of those who disbelieve, in the land, deceive thee (O Muhammad). (196) It is but a brief comfort. And afterward their habitation will be hell, an ill abode." (3:197)

So, it is an interesting fact that sometimes the prosperity of a people may be a sign of Allah's favour, but sometimes it may conversely be a sign that they have been doomed, and it is only a matter of time before divine punishment seizes them “unawares”!

May Allah give us knowledge of his sunan & wisdom to understand the world we live in!

Al Haqq

The Nature of Reality

A lecture by Sheikh Ridhwan delivered at the Monthly Halaqa Ha Meem Foundation.

Epitome: New Confessions of An Economic Hitman, (2017) Geopolitics Course reading

The New York Times bestseller ‘The New Confessions of An Economic Hitman', (2017) by John Perkins is an expose of techniques used by the ‘corporatocracy’ a vast collusion of US and international corporations, banks and the rich and the powerful. Those who run them work a dominating role in international affairs by using greed and corruption to inhibit foreign governments from economic development.
Perkins describes his own experience working for a private, international consulting firm, which advised the World Bank in efforts to fund huge loans for poor developing countries all around the globe. He explains how he was indoctrinated into the system of cheating poor countries out of trillions of dollars, plunging the countries into insurmountable debt which must then be repaid through the extraction of natural resources, military assistance and political support. He reveals commonly used tactics to pressure small, underdeveloped countries into accepting terms which adversely affect the ability of their people to survive and thrive.
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an intriguing and deeply personal story of one man’s understanding of the meaning of globalisation and empire in America today. He concludes the book with a useful call to readers to end the systematic extraction of wealth from poorer countries. In the end, as readers we all understand that it's not just America doing this, almost all the "First World" and "Capitalistic" countries did, and continue to do, the same thing through unspoken, implicit political, diplomatic and commercial tactics to third world countries.
Perkins says, "It's very important that we the people of the world come togetherand help the human-kind and global peace. I want cheap petroleum; if that means destroying a third world country or the Amazon rainforest, I'll just look the other way. Until we realize that corporations are calling the shots and not the governments and that we are empowering this system, it will continue as is. We have to put pressure on these corporations to become compassionate, good world citizens. In this era of the Internet, I think we have a tremendous opportunity to do that now and make some changes."
Amazon link to the book here.
In June, students from Woking and surrounding areas joined us for the penultimate History class, where we explored the European age of Enlightenment in the 18th century. Contentious and emotive subjects were tackled, such as the Pax Britannica, East India company, Opium wars, the Scramble for Africa, and the terrible destruction caused by the “White Flood” of Europeans into American and Australian Native settlements.
We will be launching a follow up course for the students in and around September 2019 insha’Allah
- watch this space
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