How the ulama wrote so much

I always wondered how the ulama of the past got so much done despite having shorter life spans and limited resources. The answer lies in a hadith. The prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “The best actions are those that are less but consistent”.

Mufti Shafi Usmani Majalis Hakim al-Ummat. (1396). Mufti Shafi Usmani (ed). Darul Isha’at: Karachi, Pakistan. p. 285. reports that Khwaja Aziz al-Rahman sahib (may Allah have mercy upon him) took a long leave of absence to stay in Thana Bhawan and write Ashraf al-Sawanih. The leave came to an end but there was a lot of work remaining. Hadrat [Ml. Ashraf Ali Thanwi] said,

    I always say, little by little whatever comes in front, write it down. Thereafter, make additions as you remember throughout your life. In this way, work gets accomplished. But no one listens to this fool. In the passion of youth when a work is started, they assume that I will do everything. The result is that nothing gets done.

Imam Shafi’i (may Allah have mercy upon him) would consistently edit the risalah each time he taught it. Imam Malik (may Allah Almighty have mercy upon him) would do the same for his Muwattah.

If something is deemed worth doing, start small, do whatever you can and to the best of your ability; don’t wait for optimal conditions. Then slowly build and improve; perfection is only with Allah Almighty. By the grace of Allah you will notice that in a short span a significant amount of work has been done.

Muhammad Saifur Rahman
8 Rabi I 1436
1 January 2015

Citekey: 150101501

Calculating the travel distance for Londoners

[Hadrat Shaykh al-Hadith Mufti Umar Faruq Lawharwi (may Allah Almighty protect him) says:]

It is clear in principle and in accordance to fiqh that a city is determined customarily based on the distance where the populace is settled irrespective of the size [of the population] and the wide distance they are spread; all of it is considered one city. A settlement which is customarily considered outside the city will be deemed a separate locality even if it is contiguous.

In view of that, to whatever distance, a settlement is called London up to that point all of it will be one city. At present London is divided into 33 boroughs which are governed by its councils. However, this division is for administrative purpose only. According to the custom and the law, the whole of Greater London is considered one city. Hence, a muqim (resident) will not calculate the journey distance from the boundary of their respective boroughs rather it will be calculated after exiting where the settlement of London finishes.

The amenities around [the outskirts of] London which in shariah terms is called ‘fina’ [are counted as part of the city]. For example, public parks where people play football or go for a walk or jog as well as factories, have the same ruling as that of the settlement. As in the travel distance will be calculated after passing [the fina]. The farms that exist outside London do not fall within the ruling of the fina (outskirt).

It should be noted that the M25, the well-known motorway orbiting London, cannot be considered a definitive boundary for London. Rather in whichever direction of London one is travelling, the settlement will be used [in determining the boundary]. If the settlement extends to the M25, in that direction, the M25 will be declared the city boundary. If in any direction the settlement extends beyond the M25 and that part is commonly considered within London, in that case, the M25 will not be the boundary of London [there]. Rather the city boundary will be determined from the end of the settlement. If in any direction the settlement does not reach the M25 such that between the M25 and the settlement there are farms etcetera as a barrier as is the case in the boroughs of Redbridge and Bromley, [in such a case] the settlement will form the boundary and not the M25.

(و في عقود رسم المفتي و شرحه1) والعرف في الشرع له اعتبار – لذا عليه الحكم قد يدار. (و في البحرالرائق2) قيد بالمصريين … للإحتراز عن نية الإقامة في موضعين من مصر و احد أو قرية واحدة، فإنها صحيحة لأنهما متحدان حكما، ألا تري أنه لو خرج إليه مسافرا لم يقصر. (و في العلائية) من خرج من عمارةموضع إقامته من جانب خروجه و إن لم يجاوز من الجانب الآخر. (وفي الشامية تحته3) و أشار إلي أنه يشترط مفارقة ما كان منتوابع موضع الإقامة كربض المضر و هو ما حول المدينة من بيوت و مساكين فإنه في حكم المصر و كذا القري المتصلة بالربض في الصحيح بخلاف البساتين و لو متصلة بالبناء لأنها ليست من البلدة … و أما الفناء و هو المكان المعد لمصالح البلد كركض الدواب و دفن الموتي و إلقاء التراب فإن اتصل بالمصر اعتبر مجاوزته و إن انفصل بغلوة أو مزرعة فلا.

It is stated in Malfuzat Faqih al-Ummat4,

A person asked (Mufti Mahmud al-Hasan Gangohi), ‘When should a person start qasr?’ He replied, ‘When they leave the settlement, they should start qasr.’ The questioner asked, ‘What if the city is very large and made of many miles? If one has to travel from one end or middle and start the journey from the other end, can they do qasr as soon as they leave their house?’ He replied, ‘The ruling of this case is the same in that they start qasr after they have left the city or the outskirts of the city. Hadrat Ali had said, “Had we exceed that part we would have prayed two rak’at” (as in would have qasr).’

It is stated in Ahkam Musafir5 of Mufti In’am al-Haq Sitamuri (may Allah almighty raise his ranks),

A city which extends beyond 77.25 kilometres in that when one leaves from their home they are not able to traverse the city boundary except that they have travelled more than the shariah limit for a journey such as the case of Bombay etcetera. In that circumstance, until the person has not the crossed the boundary of the wide city they will not be considered a musafir according to the shariah. Hence, it is not permissible to do qasr before passing the city boundary rather the rulings of shariah will take effect after crossing the boundary.

و الله أعلم

[Shaykh al-Hadith Mufti] Umar Faruq Lawharwi
3 Muharram 1427
ShahrLondon Walon Ke Kiye Musafat Safar
In Fiqhi Jawahir. 1429. 1st Ed. Vol 4, p. 62-65.
Kosamba, India; Jamia Abu Hurayrah.


Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami (Translator)
7 Safar 1436
30 November 2014

1. Sharh Uqud Rasm al-Mufti p. 139
2. Bahr al-Ra’iq v. 2 p. 132
3. Radd al-Muhtar v. 1 p. 578
4. Malfuzat Faqih al-Ummat v. 1 p. 345
5 Ahkam Musafir p. 68

Citekey: 141130501

How to record digital streaming audio

All praise is to Allah, the most merciful and kind. Peace be upon His messenger Muhammad, the final prophet, who was sent with the truth which he conveyed un convoluted. Blessing be upon the companion of the prophet who preserved his message and conveyed it far and wide for all time.

The best and most effective way of learning is in person where the teacher/speaker crafts the message optimised for your need. However, this is not always possible. Historically, the individuals would learn in person and then teach their family members by refocusing the pertinent issues. Nowadays with the busy schedules, this also has become difficult.

In recent era it has become possible for us to listen to lectures and sermon through analogue receiversInsha Allah, in a future post, I will write how to record and digitally capture audio from an analogue receiver and output device or live streams from home. This is great for those unable to go to the venue and want to listen immediately.

However, the challenge for many is time and perhaps access to the equipment or internet. Lots of people are preoccupied at the time of the lecture and there is no guarantee that somebody will be recording it or if it will be made accessible.

So the question arises, can I record the live stream and then listen to it later? Yes, it is possible


One of the simplest program to record streaming audio is Soundtap. However it is a paid software. See below for equivalent free alternatives.

The advantage of SoundTap is that when you leave it on, it only records if there is any sound or else it shuts and comes back on when there is audio again. Suffice it to say that this saves me using a timer, worrying when the lecture will finish and saving hard drive space.

The process is fairly simple for SoundTap.

  1. Open the webpage where the streaming will occur (ensure no other audio is running or being inputted)
  2. Open SoundTap, click the start recording button
  3. Click stop recording button to end recording

To determine where the audio file is to be found, click the options button to open the options menu. Under recording, click the button […] corresponding to recording folder. Select your desired location.

To set the output format, press CTRL+O to open the options menu. Under recording, click the dropdown list and select mp3/wav. Output in mp3 format is smaller and more supported, however, wav format may be better for audio editing later. I prefer recording speeches in mono rather than stereo which can be changed in change settings under channel encoding mode.

Free alternatives

MP3myMP3 is a free alternative among others. It may even be considered better but requires some tinkering. Audacity is also fine but it has no silence detection.

In using MP3myMP3 make sure to click silence detection and set the input to Stereo mix and then press record.

Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
London, UK
11 Jumada II 1435
11 April 2014

Citekey: 140411501

Atlas electronic dictionaries (Hardware)

These are a great solution for those who do not always have access to the internet. The Atlas brand provides multiple products in this field. These are single function devices even though the developers stuff them with unnecessary functions to justify their price. In this respect three are worthy of note. Atlas SD302 and L106 can be acquired for about £60 whilst A829 is approximately £200 (a bit steep for a single function device). Overall, these output superior translations than those available online through machine translation.

Atlas SD302 Atlas L106 Atlas A829
Arabic<=>English Yes Yes Yes
Arabic<=>French Yes
Arabic<=>Arabic Yes
English<=>English Yes
Specialised dictionary 18
Pronounciation Yes Yes Yes
Image Atlas SD302 - Dictionary Atlas L106 - Dictionary Atlas A829 - Dictionary


Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
11 Safar 1435
15 December 2013


1434 Hijri Hex Calender (130104801)

The purpose of presenting this calendar is primarily for administrative purposes and not adherence. There is no doubt amongst the authoritative ulama that the new month is determined by sighting of the new moon rather than pre-calculation. At present, I do not wish wade into the argument as to when and how sighting should happen. Suffice, it to say the calendar presented is subject to change by a margin of one to two days.

Notable days

Event Islamic date English date
Ashurah 10 Muharram 1435 13 November 2014
Ramadan Ramadan 1435 28 June 2014 – 27 July 2014
Eid al-Fitr 1 Shawwal 1435 28 July 2014
Arafah 9 Dhul Qa’dah 1435 3th October 2014
Eid al-Adha 10 Dhul Qa’dah 1435 4th October 2014

1435 AH (1 Muharram) according to the pre-calculation should have started on 4 November 2013, however, actual start was announced to be the 5 November. It is predicted to end on 24 October 2014.

Historic events are many but comparatively only a few need practical consideration in planning. The fasting of the 13, 14 and 15 (Ayyam Bidh) of every month is proven. However, due to its frequency the actual dates in the Gregorian calendar will need to be determined month on month pending observation. The 10th of Muharram (Ashurah) is set to be on Thursday, 13 November 2013.

Ramadan is expected to start on Saturday, 28 June 2014 (variable between Thurs 26th and Mon 30th June); approximately, 26 days before the summer holidays. Pending 29 or 30 days it is expected to end on Sunday, 27 July with a two day margin of error.

The earliest Eid al-Fitr may be is on the 24th, 27th, 28th, 29th or 30th July with Monday, 28th July being the tentative day. Eid al-Adha is expected on Sat 4th October 2014 with also a possibility of it falling on the 2nd (Thurs), 3th (Fri), 5th (Sun) and 6th (Mon). The nine days before Eid al-Adha including Arafah naturally precede it.


In the northern hemisphere, the shortest day of the year is expected to be on 18 Safar (21 Dec) whilst the longest day is on 23 Sha’ban (21 June). Muharram and Safar until the 17th (20 Dec) are in autumn. 18th Safar to the 18th Jumada I is in winter. 19th Jumada I (20 March) until 21th Sha’ban is in spring. 22th Sha’ban (21 Jun) until the 26 Dhul Qa’dah is in Summer. 27 Dhul Qa’dah (22 Sept) till the end of the Islamic year is in autumn.

Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
London, UK
5 Muharram 1435 (after Maghrib)
8 November 2013

Addendum: Please see the ICOUK for the UK local pre-calculated calender

[Cite key: 131108501]

Schools in London (July, 2013)

[This report is part of the London (UloomLon) Project which is an initiative to review resources available in Greater London for Muslims. This report is released under the creative common licence with added stipulations mentioned in the sharing policySaif]

This report reviews Islamic primary, secondary schools and sixth-forms (ages 5-19) in Greater London. It reviews (1) how many institutes there are and their capacity, (2) where they are, and (3) how much they charge. What constitutes an Islamic school is a subject of another article. Suffices it to say in this report it refers to those institutes which declared to the Department of Education (DfE) as having a Muslim characteristic.1 The following is the summary of the findings:

  1. There are 51 institutes which run 69 schools: 29 primaries, 33 secondary schools (23 single secondary schools, 5 mixed each with its separate sections for boys and girls) and 7 sixth-forms
  2. There is only one boarding school
  3. The institutes in aggregate have a capacity of 7248 pupils; facilities for 2.6% of the Muslim population of London aged 5-19
  4. School distribution correlate closely with the Muslim population
  5. Schools on average (median) charge £2900, £2700 and £2400 for primary, secondary and sixth-form respectively

How many are there


According to EduBase (July, 2013), there are 188 institutes in the UK which have a registered religious characteristic of Muslim. 57 are in Greater London of which 6 are now defunct and 51 are still active. The EduBase database is maintained by the Department for Education (DfE). Although it claims to be the most up to date source, its list is not comprehensive as there are notable omissions and the data is not entirely accurate. The purpose of this report is to give a snapshot of the provision for compulsory schooling for Muslims in Greater London. To this end this list should suffice; primary, secondary and sixth-forms are reviewed, however, colleges and higher education centres are excluded. The sample chosen are those institutes that are registered with the DfE and have declared a Muslim religious characteristic although it is recognised that there are many Islamic schools which opt not to register or declare their religious characteristic.

In the UK, primary (ages 4-11) and secondary (aged 11-16) education is mandatory whilst post 16 studies are optional. These 51 institutes provide one, some or all the stages of education. The breakdown is as follows:

  1. 22 are exclusively primary
  2. 17 are exclusively secondary
  3. 4 are both primary and secondary
  4. 4 are secondary with sixth-form
  5. 3 are primary, secondary with a sixth-form

There are 29 primary schools. As rules of purdah (covering) takes effect after puberty, most of the primaries (26) are mixed with boys and girls in one class. However, as the final two years are bordering on puberty, some parents opt for a single sex primary. Hence, from the list, two primaries are girls only and one boys only. Notably, all the single-sex primaries are feeder schools to their secondary. As most primaries do not cater for this need some secondary schools have opted to offer year 6 (ages 10) also.

There are 28 secondary schools at least on paper; 12 for boys, 11 for girls and 5 are mixed. None of the schools at this stage really have mixed lessons; rather classes for boys and girls are in different classrooms in separated closed off sections or buildings. So in practice, there are 33 secondary schools; 17 are for boys and 16 are for girls.

There are 7 sixth-forms, most of which rely on retaining their existing students from their own secondary, and are relatively small in size. 4 are for boys, 2 are for girls and 1 is mixed (without provision for separate classes). The sizes are significantly small although there are separate institutes which are filling the void.

The capacity of the schools is stated to be 7248 pupils. Considering that there are 278824 Muslims aged between 5-19 in Greater London2, this is significantly low as it only makes provision for only 2.6% of the population. There are many Islamic schools which are oversubscribed; nevertheless, there are those which are struggling to fill seats. The average (median) school capacity is 116 (SD 121) pupils with the upper boundary at 406. The largest is 508 albeit it is a Voluntary Aided school. There are many factors which have an impact amongst which is that many are new schools and still improving as well as the locations (many are clustered near each other). Furthermore, the price is also a factor especially considering the fact that Muslims in London have larger families and live in deprived areas.

Where are they

The spread of the schools correlates closely with the distribution of the Muslims around London. Naturally, Tower Hamlets and Newham being the populous Muslim boroughs3, have the highest number of institutes with 11 and 8 respectively. Brent has five institutes, Hackney has four, Lambeth and Redbridge have three each, Ealing, Waltham Forest and Wandsworth have two each. Barking, Barnet, Bromley, Croydon, Hammersmith, Haringey, Lewisham and Merton have one each. The remaining boroughs have no Muslim schools.

In East London, Tower Hamlets has a relatively wider range with five primaries, five boy secondary schools, one girl’s secondary school. Newham is still developing in comparison; other than three schools around the Forest Gate area, most of the schools are significantly small and newly starting. Newham has three girls secondary schools, two boy’s secondary and four primary schools. Newham has no sixth-form whilst Tower Hamlets has one sixth-form for boys and one for girls. The third largest Muslim borough, Redbridge, is also still developing with only three primary schools despite having a sizable Muslim population. Many young Muslim couples with growing families have moved to Barking and Dagenham but have no primaries in the borough and resort to neighbouring Redbridge or further although they do have one secondary girls school.

In West London, Brent has the most schools with five institutes covering all the tiers; three primary schools for boys and girls, two secondary schools for boys and two for girls. The neighbouring Ealing also has two institutes which cover all the tiers including two sixth-forms. Hammersmith has one institute which has one mixed primary and a girl’s secondary. Westminster despite having a sizable Muslim population has no Muslim schools and they seem to rely on the neighbouring boroughs.

In North London, Barnet has one institute which has one mixed primary and a girl’s secondary school with a sixth-form. Haringey has only one primary school. Waltham Forest despite it relatively large Muslim population has only one primary school and one boy’s secondary. In contrast, Hackney despite its smaller Muslim population has a good complement of school albeit mostly concentrated around the Stamford Hill area. It has four institutes which run two primaries (one of which is only for girls), one girl’s secondary with a sixth-form and two boy’s secondary school one of which starts from year six.

In South London, there are 9 institutes which are scattered far apart. Bromley has a boy’s boarding school with a secondary and sixth-form although the local Muslim community is very small. Its neighbouring borough of Lewisham has one primary. The remain are in the direct south with one institute in Croydon running a primary and boy’s secondary school and three in Lambeth, all of which are primaries from which two are maintained or Voluntary Aided (VA). Merton has one primary school. Wandworth has two institutes, one of which is VA running a primary whilst the other institute runs a primary and a secondary with separate facilities for boys and girls.

How much do they charge

Primary Secondary Sixth-Form
Min £1320 £1600 £2000
Lower Quartile (Q1) £2250 £2450 £2215
Median £2900 £2700 £2400
Upper Quartile (Q3) £3180 £3270 £2750
Upper Boundry £4578 £4500 £3552
Max £7800 £6700 £4000

The average median fees charged by the institutes are between £2400 and £2900 per annum4. Primary schools are more expensive with a median of £2900 than secondary schools with the lower quartile at £2250 and the upper quartile at £3180 (interquartile range at £930). Although the most expensive fee is £7800, it is never really charged and discount is given. In practice no primary school charges beyond £4575. The lowest fee for a primary school (other than the free schools partially or fully funded by the government) is £1320 but that also is an exception. The secondary schools are slightly a bit more consistent; their fees are on the average median of £2700 with the lower quartile at £2450 and the upper quartile at £3270 (a spread of £820). Very few secondary schools charge below £2000 and those that do are still in the development phase (the lowest recorded is £1600). The upper boundary is at £4500 with outliers at £6700. The sixth-form prices are generally less than their secondary counterpart but not by much as discounts are given to retain their students. The education at that level is optional and the subjects are limited, hence, the numbers currently at that point are very low to non-existent. The median fees are £2400 with the lower quartile at £2,215 and the upper quartile at £2,750. The lowest charge is £2000 whilst the highest is £4000.


Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
16 Dhul Qa’dah 1434 AH
22 September 2013 CE


1. Technically, such institutions will have a commitment of spending 20% of the curriculum time to teaching topics related on Islam.

2. Census, 2011

3. Nawhami, Muhammad Saifur Rahman. 2013. London – Muslim Population 2011. London, UK; Uloom. Available online:

4. Calls were made to all the schools on July to enquire about their fees for September 2013

Cite key: 130922501

Fieldnote on “Riding the wave (Note #85)”

“Riding the wave after Ramadan” was first published in It was taken from a speech delivered by Shaykh al-Hadith Mufti Umar Faruq Lawharwi (May Allah almighty raise him in ranks) on the 24 Ramadan 1434 in Madina Masjid (Clapton, London) after Asr (7:35 pm).1

His speaking style is different from the usual orators; his is multi-layered and interconnected. As such concentration is required to find the different messages and remember where one point connects directly with another. Hence, I thought that it may be more appropriate to clip the audio in relevant sections and combine without distortion so that it may be more accessible to the public.

The increase and decrease of Iman

If one ponders, there is another message (among others), one which is relevant to the Alim and the student of Din especially those in the final years studying Bukhari, Muslim and the like. There, an issue is discussed in Kitab al-Iman which queries that, “Does Iman itself increase or decrease?” (هل الإيمان يزيد و ينقص) The ulama are differed on this and many hours are spent trying to resolve it. Hadrat Shaykh Mufti Umar Faruq Sahib (مد فيوضهم) in a span of two minutes quaintly presents an explanation which calms the heart of a novice such as myself.

He explains the nature of the ocean; when there are waves it seems that there is more water but the quantity is actually the same. This is the same with Iman; the actual essence remains the same even though it seems to have increased. Iman increases like the increase of water in waves but the essence is unchanged. Hence, his description account for many of the questions that arise from the relevant Ahadith without arousing controversy or delving into the minutiae in the public sphere. (cf. Fath al-Mulhim as well as the topic relating to Iman Mu’li wa Munji for details).

Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
London England
29 Ramadan 1434
Wednesday, 7 August 2013

1. Unfortunately, I was not present at the majlis but managed to listen to it as it was broadcast online. Thereafter, Ml. Muzammil Kara kindly forwarded his recording from which I transcribed the relevant section.

Citekey: 130807501

Guidance on choosing A-Levels

[This is an extract from a letter written in response to a request of a relative (who is also a madrasah student) for guidance on choosing A-Level subjects (a pre-university qualification studied at college in the UK). The landscape has changed somewhat since the letter was written but the principle is still relevant.]

University degrees are designated either as ‘Arts’ or ‘Science’. In order to have a more wider option you need to demonstrate you can do both. Although it is claimed that A-levels are the same, you should choose the ‘traditional’ subjects.

Traditional subjects (Science): Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics
Traditional subjects (Arts): English Lit. and Lang, Economics, History, Modern Foreign Languages (Any), Geography

Traditional subjects are the best to do as they teach foundation skills which will prepare you to learn any subject. The sources of knowledge are two (1) Aqli [logical]; knowledge is gained through experimentation (2) Naqli [received]; knowledge is gained through discourse (language) analysis and traditions. Modernists place more value on the first and traditionalists emphasise on the second (In madrasah you primarily focus on the second). I will leave the details of Islamic epistemology to another day as it requires some length (cf. discussions on علوم آلية and علوم عالية).

I think undergraduate subject also should be chosen from a traditional subject or a professional course. This is mere a personal opinion and feel free to reject; it depends on your outlook (1) education for money (2) education for personal improvement. You do not need to study the subject on which you plan to do your undergraduate; sometimes it is even discouraged as you would study it anyway in the first year of university.

In any event, some suggest the following A-Levels, amongst others, that should be avoided as they are frowned upon and generally the skills can be better developed by a traditional subject (except for those that have brackets stating they are tradition; nothing wrong in doing them and respected but it is seen as narrower in scope):

Covered by English/History: Law, Communication Studies, Critical thinking, general studies, media studies.
Covered by Mathematics: Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
Covered by Economics: Business Studies, Accounting, Government, and Politics (traditional)
Not academic but vocational: Design and Technology, Arts and Design, Drama and Music, Physical Education, Home Economics,

Choose at least two/three traditional subjects and you can choose one lower subject. Although you can choose all tradition but be careful as it can be challenging. Don’t take more than you can handle.

These are of course merely a guide but in reality, it does not really matter as long as you can show competence. Choose subjects you enjoy and those that you can get the most benefit from. Leave the rest to Allah and pray. حسبنا الله و نعم الوكيل.

Muhammad Saifur Rahman [Nawhami]
28 August 2010

Citekey: 130528501