“An immoral man of learning is a great evil;
Yet a greater evil is an ignoramus leading a godly life.
Both are a great trial everywhere
To whomever clings to his religion.”
Imam Burhan al-Din al-Zarnuji cited the above lines of his poetry in his work, “Ta’lim Al-Muta’allim” (Instruction of the Student). A good reminder to all of us, especially those of us who teach.
There are four English-language classes that I teach regularly in Islamic studies, and prospective students should email classes AT hahellyer DOT com to enquire about joining them. They’ll then get a WhatsApp group invitation, and a number to send their full names to, and how they came across the class. The group will be how class times and details are sent out.
Generally speaking, they’re usually in person – but at present, we’ll do them via Zoom or some other online application – more information will be given in the WhatsApp group.
The classes are as follows:
- “Risalat al-Jami’a” (The Encompassing Epistle) of Imam Ahmad b. Zayn al-Habshi, one of the main students of the 17th century Hadrami scholar, Imam Abdullah b. Alawi al-Haddad. One could term this text as a summary of a summary of a summary of the “Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din” (the Revival of the Religious Sciences) by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali. It contains the basic compulsory elements of theology, practice, and spirituality that should be known, and is a regular primer in traditional seminaries such as Dar al-Mustafa in Tarim. The class will be taught in a mixture of Arabic and English, but there will be full translation. The Arabic text can be found here: ‘Risala al-Jamia (PDF)’ Generally speaking, this is held for 1hr around 630pm on Tuesdays, and 430 during Ramadan – again, this will be updated in the WhatsApp group.
- “Islam and Secularism” of the contemporary Malaysian polymath, Professor S. M. Naquib al-Attas. This is one of Professor al-Attas’ most famous works, with a focus on the theology and metaphysics of Islam, particularly as it referred to the modern age. His work is taught in the West as part of curricula at the Zaytuna College of Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Dr Hatem Bazian in California; and the Cambridge Muslim College of Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, where I am a professorial fellow. The text is in English. Generally speaking, this will be held at 630pm on Fridays, and probably 330-430 during Ramadan – again, this will be updated in the WhatsApp group.
- “‘Ayub al-Nafs” (The Infamies of the Soul) of Imam Muhammad b. al-Husayn al-Sulami, the 10th century Iranian scholar. This text is a concise tract of advices given to spiritual aspirants on various ailments of the heart, and offers recommendations for their rectification. The class will be taught in a mixture of Arabic and English, but there will be full translation. The Arabic text can be found here: “Uyub al-Nafs (PDF)’ Generally speaking, this will be held for 1hr around 630pm on Thursday, and 430-530 during Ramadan – again, this will be updated in the WhatsApp group.
- a) Selections from Nida al-Mu’minin fi al-Qur’an al-Mubin: ‘The Call to the Believers in the Clear Qur’an’ by Shaykh Fathullah al-Jami. The Arabic text can be found here: نداء المؤمنين في
القرآن المبين OR
b) The Summary of Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din (written by the author himself)
One of these will probably be read several times during the week at 9pm during Ramadan, but perhaps outside of Ramadan on Sundays at 630pm. Alternatively, the Sunday class will be a way to get others caught up on the other classes.
Dr Hisham A. Hellyer began teaching privately some years ago, after his shaykhs and teachers encouraged him to do so, alongside his professional academic career. These classes included works in fiqh, ‘aqida, and tasawwuf, particularly following the directives and traditional license (‘ijaza) of Shaykh Seraj Hendricks of Azzawia, the khalifa of the Makkan sage, Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki, shaykh in the tariqa ‘ulama Makka, who made Dr Hisham a Senior Scholar of the Azzawia Trust & Al-Zawiya Institute, and other duties per his responsibilities. These classes Dr Hisham held also included the works of the Malaysian polymath, Tan Sri Professor Sayyid M. Naquib al-Attas, who mentored him.
The classes went online at the request of students who wanted to continue their studies during the restrictions arising from the COVID19 pandemic, and are thus being made available to a broader circle of students.
Dr Hisham is also a Professorial Fellow in Islamic Studies at Cambridge Muslim College, which is led by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad/Dr Timothy J. Winter.