Friday, April 28, 2006

Everybody loves the sunshine...


Salaam wa rahmatullahi, one and all...
(Peace and God's Mercy to one and all)

Al hamdu lillah, summer is definitely on the way. I journeyed in to work this morning in glorious warm sunshine. It's a beautiful day today; the kind of day that lifts the mood. The hills of the South Wales valleys (where I live) seemed to have been given their very own spring cleaning: the grass seems greener and the trees more verdant and lush. A day to enjoy and to thank God for indeed...

My mood was further relaxed through my choice of music this morning. One of my favourite sunshine tracks is Roy Ayers' Everybody Loves the Sunshine. Ahhh! It always makes me feel good. Although a song about sunshine doesn't sound very uplifting, if you think about it for a moment you'll see how deep it really is. Acknowledging the beauty of something God has given you is deeply spiritual.

I also managed to play with my children before I had to leave for work (and they had to get ready for school and creche). That always puts me in a good mood. I can't wait for the summer to arrive: the very thought of lazy days in the garden, with the barbecue on the go, and nothing urgent to do fills me with excitement!

Insha Allah, my parents will come to visit during the weekend (which is a bank holiday in the UK). Insha Allah, I'll be taking my mother to Hay on Wye on Saturday (or possibly Monday). For those outside of Britain, Hay on Wye (a small town on the Welsh border) is home to an unusually large concentration of second-hand bookshops. Every year they hold a world famous book festival. Considering what a book worm I am, the fact that I live 30 minutes drive from Hay is great. Insha Allah, therefore, I hope to spend Saturday hunting for bargains.

The last couple of days at work have been really busy. It's module selection time, which means first year students are busily deciding what they want to do next year. This brings a lot of work with it. Not that I mind being busy. If nothing else, it makes the day go more quickly. Moreover, helping people make choices is enjoyable. It's also enjoyable talking to someone who's really enthusiastic about studying their subject.

I'm also missing a couple of meetings today (no bad thing too). Work has just been so busy this year, that I hardly have time to think. Insha Allah, it'll calm down after the Exam Boards (late June). God willing, I'll also be away from the office for virtually the whole of July. I'll be finishing my early Islamic history course (with the time to actually prepare stuff in the daylight hours)! I also plan to do some serious chilling... You know, play with the kids, enjoy the garden, relax in my good wife's company...

I may also go to London for some extended library time (possibly). I may also even get to finally write my PhD proposal, insha Allah. Although I'm not planning to start just yet, I need to put a proposal together so that I can start some in-depth discussions with my potential supervisor.

My working title (can't remember off hand if I've posted it before) is Early Islamic Messianism: the life, thought and wider significance of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya. Ibn al-Hanafiyya, for those unfamiliar with the subject, was the third son of Ali ibn Abi Talib, though not by Fatima (daughter of the Prophet). During the second civil war, Ibn al-Hanafiyyah was proclaimed Imam by al-Mukhtar, during a revolt in Iraq. Mukhtar did not, however, have the unequivocal support of Muhammad. From what I've discovered thus far, Ibn al-Hanafiyya was the first potential shia Imam for whom titles such as Mahdi were used. After his death, a small sectarian movement (the Kaysaniyya) believed that he was in a state of occultation and would return as the Mahdi. Fascinating stuff.

There has been a lot of interest in Shia Islam, and its development, in recent years. Wadad al-Qadi published a book on the Kaysaniyya (in Arabic). At this stage, my Arabic isn't strong enough to read it, though I hope to obtain a copy, insha Allah. If it covers my intended area exactly, I may have to rethink my topic. Generally speaking, I'm interested claimants to prophecy/inspiration/religious charisma after Muhammad (saw), so there may be some mileage there insha Allah. Such movements often seem coupled with armed revolt, which may tie in more effectively with my potential supervisor's interests. We'll see, insha Allah.

Well, I'm off to do some work.

Ma'as salama,

Abdur Rahman

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