“Jamia Al-Karam – A Reflection”
By the Founder and Principal – Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada
In 1985, the population of British Muslims exceeded one million and the number of mosques was around six to seven hundred, and day by day there was an increase. To fulfil the role of an Imam, scholars came from overseas who were well acquainted with the culture, language and educational system of their countries of origin; however, the majority of them were unaware of the culture, language and educational system of the United Kingdom. Though the teachers and the learners were both sincere in their endeavours; nonetheless, the barrier of culture, language and education kept the two apart. In view of the difficulties the future may hold, I resigned from my position as Imam in High Wycombe and set about the establishment of Jamia Al-Karam; an institution where the Imams and scholars of the future could be nurtured and educated who will be able to fulfil the needs of the mosques and the British Muslim community.
By the grace of Almighty Allah, eventually the day came for which aspirations were high. In July 1985, Jamia Al-Karam’s inauguration conference took place in Milton Keynes which was chaired by my teacher and Shaykh-in-Tariqah, Justice Shaykh Muhammad Karam Shah al-Azhari who stated in his concluding remarks: “The inauguration of Jamia Al-Karam is no trivial gathering, rather this is an historic gathering.” Indeed it was, for thousands are today gaining heartfelt tranquillity due to the many services and contributions made by Jamia Al-Karam and its alumni. Jamia Al-Karam was named after him, for it was due to his teaching and nurturing that I became able enough to set up an institution of this kind.
Initially Jamia Al-Karam was based in a small house in Milton Keynes in which even five students would find it burdensome to reside. However, in only ten years, it advanced from this house to such a campus of thirty acres that in it hundreds can now reside, study and enjoy an environment that is cloaked with the beauty of the natural landscape. This is by no means my greatness, rather it is the special favour of Almighty Allah and the fruit of the prayers of my teacher.
The fundamental objective of the establishment of Jamia Al-Karam was to educate the young British Muslim to become an Imam so that he can preach Islam to the coming generations in accordance with the language and culture of this country. To achieve this, since 1985, Jamia Al-Karam has worked towards developing opportunities for the Muslim youth of the United Kingdom to be educated in the genuine teachings and scholarship of Islam far from misinterpretation and distortion whilst appreciating the context of the present time and place. This has led to hundreds of young individuals gaining knowledge and wisdom, and today contributing professionally and passionately to the cause of religion and to the service of society. Moreover, just as understanding Islam and acting upon its teachings are essential for men, similarly they are also essential for women. Hence in 2008 at Jamia Al-Karam, this diploma course was made available for women too and many British Muslim women have graduated, becoming part of Jamia Al-Karam’s growing alumni.
A famous tradition states that an old man was once planting a date palm, and it is known that a date palm bears fruit after many years. A traveller spoke out to the old man: “By the time this date palm bears fruit, you will probably not be alive.” The old man replied: “Our elders planted date palms and we ate their fruits. If today we do not plant these date palms, from where will our coming generations eat?”
The most important dream of my life was based upon the fact that our elders established centres of learning and great Dar al-‘Ulums in which I and thousands of others studied and gained knowledge. In exactly the same manner, it is our obligation today to nurture and produce scholars who will educate, represent and transmit Islam in the modern world and to the coming generations. Today when I see my great students and hear their heart-touching discourses, many a time tears fall from my eyes and I find myself lost for words to offer in gratitude to Almighty Allah.