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2. Civilisation and Society III: Society through Literature

1. Video and Transcript: 31st August – Introduction: Story and History – Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison FFAS, Warden of MFAS

In their works authors and poets have always revealed deep insights into the inner drives and actions of the human being. They have shone light on the hidden workings of history, and offered a clarity of perception in the face of darkness. This module explores the illuminating role of literature in society.

The primary intention of this lecture is to explore the influence of the story form on the shape and character of human society. There is a self-evident connection, therefore, to the overarching objective of the module as a whole, which is to examine how our literature provides us with an opportunity to gain useful and beneficial insights into our current social predicament by looking at society through the fearless and uncompromising lenses provided by authors and poets.

Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison FFAS

Uthman was born to Jamaican parents in London and studied law as an undergraduate at UCL before going on to pursue postgraduate studies in applied linguistics at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He became Muslim in 1987 and had a leading hand in the establishment of the Brixton Mosque in South London in 1990. He became founder Chairman of the Blackstone Foundation educational trust in 1993 and presently lives in the city of Norwich as a prominent member of the well known Ihsan Mosque community, where he has been occupied with specialist teaching, writing and publishing since 1995.
In his dual capacity as Chairman and Director of Education of the Blackstone Foundation he has played a key role in the development of innovative scholastic initiatives including the Norwich Academy for Muslims, the Wazania Academy for Girls, New Muslim Initiatives and most recently, the Muslim Faculty of Advanced Studies. He is a visiting lecturer at the Dallas College in Cape Town and has regularly presented papers on Muslim schooling at educational conferences and colloquiums. He has also written extensively on the impact of Islam on the modern politics of African identity: Trade First (1996) and The Forbidden Dialogues (1997).

2. 7th September – The Writer and the Reader – Abdalhamid Evans FFAS

As part of the Society Through Literature series, this paper on psychology explores the relationship between the writer and the reader, and the role that literature has played, and continues to play in shaping our inner world, and in turn our behaviour. Now that the written word is no longer confined to paper, we also follow the trail of the evolution of literature in the digital age, and the effect that this has on our shared imaginations and expectations, and how it shapes the narrative of our own lives.

Abdalhamid Evans FFAS

Abdalhamid was born in New York, the son of a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, and was educated in the USA and UK. After leaving school he spent seven years in the remote mountains of South West Ireland without running water or electricity, and joined the Norwich Muslim community after embracing Islam in 1978. He was actively involved in various community activities for the following two decades, and studied European philosophy and psychology with Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi. He currently works as an independent consultant in the international Halal marketplace.

3. 14th September – Moths and Flames – Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

“Poetry is the original language of mankind. Or, with a little imagination, it might even be said to be the original language of animals, those emotive creatures, who must choose resemblances and learn to decode the meanings of things in order to survive—or even bees, those most poetic of insects, scanning the flowery countryside for nectar and pollen the way a good student might scan the lines of a great poem, metrically buzzing in heart and head.” This paper and presentation by poet, Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, will insha’Allah speak about poetry and language from the inside, as if we are standing on a hill in a high wind on the last day of the world, and Allah’s great gift to us, our deepest speech, would renew it in greater breadth and light, out of His measureless ocean of silence."

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

Born in 1940 in Oakland, California, Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore had his first book of poems, Dawn Visions, published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Books, San Francisco, in 1964, and the second in 1972, Burnt Heart/Ode to the War Dead. He created and directed The Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company in Berkeley, California in the late 60s, and presented two major productions, The Walls Are Running Blood, and Bliss Apocalypse. He became a Sufi Muslim of the Habibiyya Tariqa, in 1970, by Allah, and at the blessed hand of Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi, performed the Hajj in 1972, and lived and traveled throughout Morocco, Spain, Algeria and Nigeria, landing in California and publishing The Desert is the Only Way Out, and Chronicles of Akhira in the early 80s (Zilzal Press). Residing in Philadelphia since 1990, in 1996 he published The Ramadan Sonnets (Jusoor/City Lights), and in 2002, The Blind Beekeeper (Jusoor/ Syracuse University Press). He has been the major editor for a number of works, including The Burdah of Shaykh Busiri, translated by Hamza Yusuf, and the poetry of Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Munir Akash. He is also widely published on the worldwide web: The American Muslim, DeenPort, and his own website and poetry blog, among others:, He has been poetry editor for Seasons Journal, Islamica Magazine, a 2010 translation by Munir Akash of State of Siege, by Mahmoud Darwish (Syracuse University Press), and The Prayer of the Oppressed, by Imam Muhammad Nasir al-Dar’i, translated by Hamza Yusuf. In 2011 and 2012 he was a winner of the Nazim Hikmet Prize for Poetry. The Ecstatic Exchange Series is bringing out the extensive body of his works of poetry, of which there are forty titles as of 2013, July, alhamdulillah.

4. – 21st Sept – The Family – Khadija Carberry

D.H. Lawrence interrogates our collective and individual inability to fulfil our natural human potential and points an unflinching finger of blame directly at the ideals imposed upon us during our development as children. Through an exploration of his penetrating insights, this lecture will seek to throw light on the negative impact of this dangerous form of idealism on the internal dynamics of the modern family.

Khadija Carberry

Khadijah Carberry presents this lecture as a candidate for the MFAS Ordinary Diploma in Advanced Studies (DipORD). Her commitment to the study of literature as an important route to the appreciation of the contemporary human condition, complements her professional activity as a practising aromatherapist specialising in the application of the Ayurvedic Chakra system and the Greco-Arab four elements as a means to diagnosis and treatment of the energetic imbalances resulting from the abnormal patterns of modern living.

5. – 28th Sept – The Search for Community – Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison FFAS

As possibly the most authoritative and articulate literary voice of a spontaneously emergent Islam within the Western context, the writings of Ian Dallas provide a unique opportunity to explore the growing concern for the degeneration of modern civilisation and the consequent pursuit of functioning community. This lecture will aim to highlight how this very real sense of urgency stands in contrast to purely speculative, idealistic or imaginary constructs, and how it has given rise to new perspectives on the true relevance of the Western literary legacy.


6. – 5th Oct – Can One Learn Without Teachers? – Richard Abdarrazzak Goodall

A reflection on the nature of learning, the institutions which aim to serve it and the role of teaching. It looks at the environments in which the young are nurtured and suggests that teachers still play a role in spite of, or perhaps because of the sheer amount of information and knowledge available. A good attitude remains the key quality of any student, with wide latitude needed in allowing its natural development.

Richard Abdarrazzak Goodall

Richard Adarrazzak Goodall has been a teacher of English as a foreign language for 34 years and has participated in a number of independent school projects; in Spain, Turkey, Arabia and South Africa as well as England. At present he is teaching and examining in Norwich and Sicily. He has never worked in the state sector.

7. – 19th Oct – Cinema: Reality and Film – Imruh Bakari

Imruh Bakari

Filmmaker and writer. He lectures in Film Studies at the University of Winchester where he is currently a Senior Fellow in the Faculty of Arts. From 1999-2004 he was Festival Director of ZIFF Festival of the Dhow Countries in Zanzibar. As a specialist in African and Caribbean cultural affairs and media issues, his work has appeared in various books, newspapers, magazines and journals. He has also worked in theatre, radio and television.

8. – 26th Oct – The Worker – Abdalbarr Brown

When we think of the worker the first thing that usually comes to mind is Marx and Engels with their critique of capitalism and concept of class. Yet the worker as a type or signifier of the age remains obscure to their critique. The concept of the worker as an underlying Gestalt (deep form) has been uncovered by the brothers, Ernst and Friedrich Georg Jünger. In their studies they deliver more than just a superficial critique of the dynamic of industrial revolution and the age that followed. Their work discloses for the reader a deep current of nihilism that has shaped and ultimately still continues to influence almost all aspects of our lives today. Little known the brothers Jünger uncovered through observation and reassessment of the Greek mythos a current of energy that is a threat to the world not by human action alone but due to a lack of understanding the consequences of unleashed technique and capital.

Their critique of the contemporary world is unique to the West and is not to be found outside of western thought. The Muslims in general have yet to understand this current and have in most cases succumbed to it themselves. Despite this assessment it should come as no surprise that the Muslims unknown to themselves hold the keys that have been so sorely lacking here in overcoming the elements that threaten our very home, the world in which we all live.

It is in this paper we hope to introduce the mythos of the worker as it appears in the works of Ernst Jünger and to a lesser extent Friedrich Georg Jünger and see how their scholarship can give us an understanding of the problems of our age to avoid the pitfalls that have remained beyond the grasp of much of the Muslim populace today.

9. – 2nd Nov – The Stranger – Abdalhamid Evans FFAS

10. – 9th Nov – Roots of Adab – Dr. Aziz El Kobaiti Idrissi FFAS

An overview of the development of Arabic literature from the pre​-Islamic period (Jahiliyya) to the era when Islamic adab came to express profound meanings and became a sublime medium full of educative, edifying and uplifting qualities.

We will also have a look at the major sources which inspired creative Muslims all over the world, starting with the Quran and the hadith and including poetic and literary productions of the early golden era.

Thus we will examine the following points:

  • - Definition of Adab in Arabic Dictionaries.
  • - Pre-Islamic Literature: Poetry & prose
  • - Islamic Adab: its main sources
  • - The Golden eras of Islamic Adab

We will touch on many other details of different subjects such as: the inner structure of Arabic poetry, the position of women in Islamic Adab and its expression of feelings and emotions.

Dr. Aziz EL Kobaiti Idrissi

Aziz EL Kobaiti Idrissi, Ph.D. is professor of Arabic Language and Islamic Literature and teaches at the Moroccan Ministry of National Education. He is the author of four books about Islamic Sufism in the West and Sufi Literature. He has participated in many international conferences in Morocco, the United States, Egypt, France, England, Scotland, Spain, South Africa, Germany, and Macedonia. He is also the organizer of many Sufi gatherings and conferences inside and outside Morocco.

11. – 16th Nov – The Presence of the Divine in Literature

Shaykh Abdalhaqq Bewley

12. – 23rd Nov – Conclusion – Standing by Words

Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison, Warden, FFAS and Abdassamad Clarke, Dean, FFAS

Although not yet ready to publish in book format, the unedited lecture notes are also available in both ePub and Kindle formats upon application to MFAS. Please write to: The Dean