Kitaba Team on Tour in South of England
Members of the Islamic Texts for the Blind toured several cities in the South of England as part of their programme to raise awareness and promote the new book, Taqwa and Knowledge by Imam al-Haddad.
The first event on the programme was a book launch at the Dallow Road Community Centre, Luton. Dr Sumaya Siddiq gave a presentation on the work of Kitaba and Shaykh Abdul Aziz Ahmed gave an overview of the new book. The event was attended by about two hundred people of various ages. There was considerable interaction and a question and answer session. The programme was organized in association with the Zaytoon Institute and broadcast over Inspiration Radio. Inspiration indicated that they had 20 000 listeners.
Shaykh Abdul Aziz and his wife, Gadija Esau, remained in Luton overnight and had a chance to renew ties with one of kitaba’s partners, Friends of Bright Eyes (FOBE). Friends of Bright Eyes (FOBE) was set up in 1993 by a young mother who wanted to access support services for her disabled child. Supported by a few members of the local community, she proceeded to organise regular care sessions for young people within the locality.
Shaykh Abdul Aziz and Gadija visited one of FOBE’s care sessions at Dallow Primary School. It was attended by 12 young people aged 8 to 16, some of whom have profound and multiple difficulties. The four hour session provides well deserved and much needed respite for families and safe and structured activities for the young people. There are fourteen volunteers supporting the young people. Other sessions take place in Lady Zia Wernher School on Wednesdays. Gadija said, ‘I was particularly impressed by the young volunteers who dedicated their Saturdays to work with disadvantaged young people. Not only were they were professional and skilful but so very polite.’
As with many charities and voluntary groups, FOBE have been affected by the current financial squeeze and are likely to face even greater difficulties in the future. Shaykh Abdul Aziz said ‘we whole heartedly support this project and even though I don’t normally do fundraising, not even for kitaba, I think we should do what we can to help. I will be happy to come again with the specific intention of raising funds for this project.’ It is hoped that Shaykh Abdul Aziz and Kitaba will try and get some of their friends and supporters, including nasheed artists and scholars to offer their help for an event early next year.
From Luton, the Kitaba team set off for the historic town of Woking. This is where Britain’s oldest mosque and graveyard are located. The team visited the Brookwood Cemetery paying respects to the great translators of Quran, Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Marmaduke Pickthall and the founder of the first English Muslim community Abdullah Quilliam. In 1854, Brookwood was the largest cemetery in the world and the only place in the United Kingdom with a Muslim section. The team prayed Maghrib at the Shah Jahan mosque before heading for Woking College for the main event of the evening.
The mosque was built in 1889 by Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner, a scholar of Hungrian Jewish origin who converted to Islam after studying Turkish, Arabic and Persian languages. At the age of twenty three, Lietner was appointed Professor of Arabic and Muslim Law at King’s College, London and is credited with raising the status of The Government College of Lahore to the status of the University of the Punjab. This took place while he was Principal in 1864.
At the college, Shaykh Abdul Aziz delivered an interactive presentation entitled Real People, Real Needs: Islam and Disability. The talk was followed by a presentation on the work of Kitaba by Dr Tehsin Ali. The evening was organized by the Ribat Institute. The Ribat Institute provides educational programmes including Islamic Studies, archery, arts and crafts as well as providing help for good causes including blankets for the local neonatal unit and recent international disasters such as the Haitian and Pakistani earthquakes.
The final event of the weekend was organized by the Oxford Traditional Knowledge Foundation. Aminah Hussain presented on behalf of the Islamic Texts for the Blind and Shaykh Abdul Aziz taught from the beginning of the new book Taqwa and Knowledge.
The Islamic Texts for the Blind would like to thank everyone involved in the programmes especially the hosts, organizers and students.