On Sunday 16 July 2017, the 19th Annual Urs Conference commemorating the life and legacy of the erudite Sufi scholar, Zia-ul-Ummat Justice Pir Muhammad Karam Shah al-Azhari (1918-1998), was held at Jamia Al-Karam in Retford, Nottinghamshire, which also featured the graduation ceremony of 19 male and female students of Jamia Al-Karam.
The conference was hosted by the Founder and Principal of Jamia Al-Karam, Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, and chaired by the son of Pir Muhammad Karam Shah (ra), Major Pir Muhammad Ibrahim Shah (Pakistan). Hundreds of people attended and participated in the conference with scholars and masha’ikh from across Britain and abroad. Keynote guests included Sahibzada Pir Sultan Fiaz-ul-Hasan Qadri (Hazrat Sultan Bahu Trust, Birmingham), Sahibzada Pir Zaheer-ud-Din Siddiqui (Nerian Sharif, Birmingham), Sahibzada Pir Muhammad Mazhar Hussain Qadri (Mangani Sharif, Pakistan), Allama Mufti Khan Muhammad Qadri (Pakistan), among others.
In his address, Sahibzada Pir Sultan Fiaz-ul-Hasan paid rich tribute to the ‘intellectual, scholastic, reviving and spiritual accomplishments’ of Pir Muhammad Karam Shah (ra). He stated that the Khalifah (vicegerent) of Pir Muhammad Karam shah (ra), Shaykh Pirzada, has granted the Muslims of Britain and the wider continent of Europe a great gift in the form of the institution of Jamia Al-Karam, which every year presents young scholars for the Muslims of this part of the world, and this is a great honour. He further congratulated Shaykh Pirzada on the graduation of 19 individuals this year from Jamia Al-Karam. In his address, Sahibzada Pir Mazhar Hussain stated that Pir Muhammad Karam Shah (ra) is not the name of only an individual, rather it has become the name of an intellectual movement, which lit the lamp of knowledge in the land of Bhera and the light emanating from that lamp is today enlightening the hearts and minds of the young people of Britain and beyond. Mufti Khan Muhammad Qadri delivered a discourse on the necessity of knowledge, reason and love for followers of the spiritual path. Knowledge and reason inform of the destination, whereas love takes the traveller to the destination. In this respect, Pir Muhammad Karam Shah (ra) is a symbol of the truly balanced combination of knowledge, reason and love. Sahibzada Pir Zaheer-ud-Din remarked that the institution of Jamia Al-Karam is in reality an example of the fruits of the beneficence and blessedness emanating from Pir Muhammad Karam Shah (ra). He further stated that he could not thank Jamia Al-Karam enough, for his own sons have benefitted from this institution along with many other young scholars.
Mufti Muhammad Zubair Tabassum from Oslo, Norway, stated that Pir Muhammad Karam Shah (ra) spent day and night in educating and nurturing the coming generations of Muslims. A fruit of that effort is the manner in which communities of Britain and wider Europe are today benefitting from Jamia Al-Karam. Chief Imam of the Leeds Makkah Mosque, Imam Qari Muhammad Asim MBE, reflected on the fact that it was predecessors of the Muslims who laid the foundation of scientific advancement and the development of Europe from the era of Muslim Spain. He commented on the need of developing and furthering institutions such as Jamia Al-Karam for the education, nurturing and training of scholars. Sahibzada Pir Muhammad Imran Abdali of Birmingham reflected on his own journey beginning from his education and nurturing at Jamia Al-Karam, which in turn is a direct blessing of Pir Muhammad Karam Shah (ra). He urged the scholars and the community to vigorously assist and support the institution of Jamia Al-Karam so that it can continue to serve the community. Allama Sayyid Zafrullah Shah of Birmingham delved into the multi-dimensional personality of Pir Muhammad Karam Shah (ra), who was at one time an heir, an embodiment and a bearer of intellectual esteem, spiritual beauty and literary perfection. Intellectual esteem showered through his masterpieces in Qur’an commentary, the Tafsir Zia-ul-Qur’an, and prophetic biography, the Sirat Zia-un-Nabi; spiritual beauty reflected through his companionship; and literary perfection stemmed from the tip of his pen.
In his concluding address, Major Pir Muhammad Ibrahim Shah reflected on the conciseness of life itself and the speed with which time passes by. He forwarded messages of greetings and well-wishes from the honourable Pir Muhammad Amin-ul-Hasnat Shah (Bhera Sharif, Pakistan), who was himself unable to attend the conference this year due to his commitments as Minister of State for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony in Pakistan. He congratulated Shaykh Pirzada and Jamia Al-Karam on recent achievements and offered prayers for continued success.
The conference featured the graduation of 11 Alims and 8 Alimahs of Jamia Al-Karam who completed their studies at the institution. In the presence of scholars and representatives of the intellectual and the spiritual traditions, the graduates and their parents were honoured. On behalf of the graduates, Imam Mansoor Mahmood of High Wycombe delivered a short talk reflecting on the occasion and their achievement.
In addition to the many graduate scholars of Jamia Al-Karam, numerous other scholars and masha’ikh from across the country and abroad were in attendance and also participated including Allama Muhammad Nawaz Hazarwi (Peterborough), Allama Muhammad Din Sialwi (Nelson), Allama Muhammad Hafeez-ur-Rahman Ghazali (Burton), Major Imam Najeeb-ur-Rahman Naz (Norway), and many others.
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