From Gandhi to Geldof: The Menace of Thematic RE


A colleague once expressed to me his philosophy of teaching RE in the following way; ‘I don’t just teach the head, I teach the heart.’ His words reflect a prevalent belief in the RE community that RE should not be primarily concerned with intellectual advancement, but rather personal, spiritual or moral development. At Key Stage 3, this view manifests itself in the widespread practice of thematic curriculums where pupils explore a theme, concept or value, usually reflecting political vogue. Moulded around these themes, religion is not only marginalised, but also distorted and misrepresented, preventing pupils from gaining a systematic, coherent or accurate understanding of it.

Rather than developing a deep, rich understanding of Hinduism, a lesson on the different Hindu gods may become an opportunity to consider the importance of appreciating diversity. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is a chance to explore the different roles that make up pupils’…

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My Weltanschauung through Hajj and some Thoughts

Hamid Mahmood

My Weltanschauung through Hajj and some Thoughts

Hamid Mahmood

“We mirror the movement of the heavens, circling the ka’bah seven times. We move in harmony, as if travelling back to the beginning of time. I feel myself becoming one with those around me, with those who have come before, and all who follow”[1]

When the month of Dhul al-Hijjah approaches, the majority of Muslims prepare for the festival of Eid al-Adha, however a minority – approximately 3 million – ready themselves for the fifth pillar of Islam: Hajj. Here, I intend to focus on Hajj and how I am in awe when pondering over its magnificence and grandeur.

When beginning the journey for Hajj, a Hajji comes into the state of ihram. This state of higher spirituality includes the wearing of two simple white sheets of cloth, which diminish social status, class, race and any other boundary. It’s when a…

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Hasidism and Sufism: Spirituality in Judaism and Islam

Hamid Mahmood


Hasidism and Sufism: Spirituality in Judaism and Islam

(Hamid Mahmood)


In an era when media and politics over-shadow relations between Muslims and Jews, maybe there is a solution – spirituality. I will initiate by defining Ṣūfism and Ḥasidism, alongside the definition process I will analyse and contrast between the two. Thereafter, I will focus my attention on the Pīr (sheikh) / Tsaddik and murīd / ḥasidim, and examine their centrality in both spiritualities using Arabic, Persian and Urdu poetry. I will examine the notion of the Tsaddik through four channels as approached by Rachel Elior. I will conclude by briefly analysing individuals, Abraham Maimonides and Baṣīr, who in the medieval period were inclined towards Islamic mysticism – taṣawwuf. And alongside the medieval, I will also look at similar examples in the contemporary modern period – Pīr Ināyat Khan and Rabbi Zalman Shalomi.

Defining Ṣūfism

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Conscience, ḍamīr (ضمیر) and Muhammad Iqbal’s concept of ‘khūdī’ (خُودی).

Hamid Mahmood

Conscience, ḍamīr (ضمیر) and Muhammad Iqbal’s concept of ‘khūdī’ (خُودی).

خُودی کو کر بلند اتنا کہ ہر تقدیر سے پہلے
خُدا بندے سے خود پوچھے بتا تیری رضا کیا ہے۔ [1]

Raise thy Selfhood (khūdī) so high that before each (taqdīr) dispensation,

God Himself may ask thee what thy wishes are.[2]

Is there a similar concept of conscience in Islamic philosophical thought? I will begin to answer this question by initially looking at modern and traditional Arabic semantics of the word conscience. I will then explore a modern understanding of the ‘inner-self’ – khūdī, a concept expounded by Muhammad Iqbal, a Poet philosopher and the thought behind the creation of Pakistan. Again, I will begin exploring the semantics of khūdī and by explaining what khūdī is not and how it contradicts the ṣūfī notion of self-denial. Thereafter I will explicate khūdī from…

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