“Educating Leaders of Tomorrow, and Today”

By the Vice-Principal – Bakhtyar H Pirzada al-Azhari

The population of the United Kingdom is enriched by many cultures, religions, ethnicities and backgrounds. The Muslim community is one segment of this society that has grown and developed over the past few generations, from the initial immigrant generation to the current British-born generations. The past decades have brought to light numerous positives as well as challenges as a result of rapidly changing familial, social, national and global dynamics – all of which have had an effect on the Muslim community, especially on young British Muslims.

Jamia Al-Karam is an institution that began not as a reaction, but pro-actively through vision, discernment and dedication. From its humble beginnings of one small terraced property with five teenage students in 1985 in Milton Keynes, Jamia Al-Karam aimed to address the challenges of the future at a time when such challenges were seldom perceived. It is a centre of spiritual and educational excellence that is today based at Eaton Hall on the outskirts of the historic market town of Retford in rural Nottinghamshire. It focuses on both elements necessary for scholarship, often reflected in the statement of ‘having both eyes open’, i.e. the eye on knowledge and genuine Islamic scholarship and the eye on the world and understanding the present context of time and place. Jamia Al-Karam’s course of study is based upon two diploma programmes, both of which incorporate these important elements as well as leadership and Imam training. Jamia Al-Karam is a registered charity that raises funds to provide such long-term educational projects as well as maintaining the picturesque campus of Eaton Hall. Here, the annual fees are less than one fifth of the average cost of boarding education in the United Kingdom.

There is no doubt that the Muslim community and the British society as a whole benefit significantly through the provision of Imams, religious scholars and leaders who are born and bred in Great Britain so to speak, who are proficient in the English Language, have an understanding of the contextual cultural norms and modern Western world as well as having the correct understanding of Islam and its religious values and esteemed traditional sciences and scholarship. The Dars Nizami diploma programmes of Jamia Al-Karam provide students, male and female, with this opportunity. Graduates of Jamia Al-Karam today serve as teachers in schools, Imams in mosques, lecturers in colleges, chaplains in the prison and national health services as well as writers and public speakers. In 1999, Jamia Al-Karam gained affiliation with the world’s oldest, uninterrupted Islamic university, the Al-Azhar in Cairo, and in 2011 was appointed as its United Kingdom branch and office of the World Association for Al-Azhar Graduates (WAAG UK).

Inspired by the revolutionary endeavours of the Diya’ al-Ummat, Justice Shaykh Muhammad Karam Shah al-Azhari, in the field of Islamic scholarship, spirituality and training during the past century, the Founder of Jamia Al-Karam, Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, and his vision have shaped this institution and provided leadership to the British Muslim community in many a sphere. Its academic faculty aims to develop a very in-depth understanding of the vast array of disciplines that form part of the study of Islam, to provide much insight into the origins and subsequent development of classical Islamic sciences and to enhance the knowledge of the grammatical structure of the Qur’anic Arabic Language. Taught by exceptional teachers under the supervision of Shaykh Pirzada, the study of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and the contemporary practical significance of the prophetic life (Sirah) are of core importance.

Hundreds have now benefited from the fountain of knowledge and understanding at the heart of Jamia Al-Karam, which is connected to the prophetic ocean of guidance, supported by saintly sages of tradition over the centuries, and that is today quenching the thirst of the present age. The doors of Jamia Al-Karam are open to the seekers who are most welcome.

Bakhtyar Pirzada