Leicestershire, Saturday, 9th December – Al-Salam Institute (ASI) held its distinguished graduation ceremony for the 2022-23 academic year. The event took place at the Islamic Foundation in Leicestershire, during the ASI Winter Student Retreat. A mix of students, faculty, and esteemed guests created a vibrant atmosphere. The ceremony celebrated the hard work and dedication of four Alimiyyah graduates and six individuals who completed the Ifta specialisation programme under the guidance of Shaykh Akram Nadwi.

Ustadh Andrew Booso, a respected member of the faculty and the advisory board, chaired the ceremony. The event began with an emotive Qur’anic recitation by Dr Abdul Latif Aydın, setting an introspective and uplifting mood for the evening. Ustadh Akhlaq Choudhury opened the addresses, highlighting the serious responsibility that comes with pursuing sacred knowledge. He encouraged the students to find their passion within Islamic disciplines, engage with them meaningfully, and cautioned against wasting time and engaging in fruitless discussions and debates.

Imam Abu Taleb, a lecturer in the Foundation Year, narrated the inspiring story of Bilali Muhammad, a West African slave who, despite limited means, fervently practised his religion and left behind the Ben Ali diary to spread his faith. Imam Abu Taleb motivated the graduates to become agents of enlightenment in society, urging them to be drivers for growth and impact. He reminded them that as they begin their journey, they must cultivate with knowledge and establish khayr (goodness) wherever they reside.

Dr Ahmad Barouni, a senior lecturer in the Alimiyyah programme, reminded the graduates that their journey into the vast expanse of knowledge was just beginning. He underscored the importance of applying their knowledge, and aiming for khashyah – a profound reverence and fear of God born from understanding His expectations. He also stressed the need for continually reassessing intentions to ensure their knowledge benefits them first and foremost.

The keynote address was delivered by Shaykh Akram Nadwi, the institute’s principal. He congratulated the graduates, referencing the Qur’anic verse “in that let them rejoice” (Q 10:58) to celebrate their success. He reminded them to be innovative scholars, relevant in modern times, drawing parallels with historical figures like Ghazali, Abu Hanifah, Ibn Taymiyyah, and Allamah Shibli Noumani, stressing how they were relevant in their time through thorough research and original thought. He urged graduates to use their knowledge responsibly and to consider the societal impacts of their words and writings.

First to be recognised were those students who were completing certificates in classical Arabic and Islamic sciences, and diplomas in the Arabic language. Next up were the Alimiyyah graduates; hearing about personal journeys from each of them was quite moving. Dr Suleman Kanani, a GP who embraced Islam at university, shared his transformative experience since joining the institute in 2015. Dr Mustaqim Ali and Dr Nauman Akhlaq, juggling Islamic studies with careers in medicine and physics, alongside Dr Shamsul Huda, a retired gynaecologist who completed his studies at 75, exemplified lifelong learning.

This year, ASI graduated its first batch from the Ifta programme, developed under Shaykh Akram Nadwi. He granted six dedicated students the title of mufti and authorised them to issue fatwas: Mufti Umer Khan, Mufti Abu Zayd, Mufti Hussan Mahmood, Mufti Abul Farhan, Mufti Abdul Hakim Vazquez, and Mufti Shafiur Rahman. Mufti Umer Khan, a lecturer at ASI, shed light on the distinct training approaches of the ASI Ifta Programme. He highlighted the role of a mufti as a signatory on behalf of Allah, emphasising the need for communicating effectively with people, avoiding jargon, and providing comprehensive explanations. Importantly, he reinforced that the core aim of a mufti is not only to assist individuals in finding solutions but also to guide them towards a deeper connection with Allah. This guidance, he noted, should steer them along a path characterised by sabr, shukr, and taqwa, fostering a holistic spiritual journey.

The event concluded with a delightful three-course dinner, followed by enchanting qasidahs by Dr Abdul Latif Aydin and Br Furkan, and prayers for Allah’s guidance and blessings on the graduates’ future endeavours.

Al-Salam Institute expresses its heartfelt congratulations and gratitude to all graduates, and looks forward to their future successes and community contributions.