From 22nd July to 24th July, the Vice-Principal of Jamia Al-Karam, Bakhtyar Pirzada al-Azhari, who is also the Vice-President of Al-Azhar Alumni UK based at Jamia Al-Karam, led a delegation to Cairo, Egypt, where they attended various functions and meetings at Al-Azhar University as well as other centres in Cairo. The visit was jointly organised by Al-Azhar Alumni UK and the World Organisation for Al-Azhar Graduates based in Cairo. In addition to various meetings with heads and officials at Al-Azhar, some of the activities of the Vice-Principal and the delegation included the following:
1. The delegation participated in the graduation ceremony of the British Imams and teachers who completed a specialist training programme at Al-Azhar. In addition to the senior scholars of Al-Azhar present, the Vice-Principal delivered a short talk and graduates of Jamia Al-Karam also participated with Imam Issarar Hussain offering words of gratitude, Qari Abu Adam Akhlaq al-Azhari reciting verses of the Qur’an and Imam Muhammad Asad Ali reciting nasheeds in honour of the sublime Messenger (peace be upon him).
2. During the ceremony, head of Al-Azhar’s Department of Urdu at the Faculty of Languages and translator of ‘Tafsir Imdad al-Karam’, namely Dr Ibrahim Muhammad Ibrahim al-Sayyid offered an introduction to the Qur’an commentary authored by the Founder and Principal of Jamia Al-Karam, Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, and together with the Vice-Principal presented the seven volume book to Al-Azhar University. Former President of Al-Azhar University and Scholarly Advisor to the World Organisation for Al-Azhar Graduates, Dr Ibrahim al-Hudhud, read out excerpts from Shaykh Pirzada’s Qur’an commentary in Arabic to the scholars and the audience present, who all greatly appreciated this timely endeavour.
3. The delegation were invited by the respectable Qur’an reciter, teacher and founder of Mu’assasat al-Itqan in Cairo, Shaykh Ashraf Hamid Hassanin, for a visit and to attend a ceremony of certificate awarding to Jamia Al-Karam graduates who recently completed supplementary Qur’an and Arabic studies at the centre. An evening of dhikr, nasheed and counsel ensued with the Vice-Principal delivering a talk to the students of the centre. Shaykh Ashraf presented some of his books to the Vice-Principal who also gifted Shaykh Ashraf the recent publications of Shaykh Pirzada, ‘Qur’an: The Sublime Word’ and ‘Bukhari: The Sublime Tradition’. The occasion was also attended by Sahibzada Israr-ul-Haq of Suffa-Tul-Islam Association of Bradford, UK.
4. Representing the Grand Imam, Dr Ahmad al-Tayyeb Shaykh al-Azhar, the Senior Deputy and Wakil of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, Shaykh Dr Salih Abbas, welcomed the delegation at the Mashikhat al-Azhar where a meeting with the Vice-Principal took place.
5. The delegation visited the ‘Al-Azhar Observatory for Countering Extremism’ where monitoring of extremist material and terrorism around the world is taking place, with continuous countering measures and projects being initiated in numerous languages backed by the scholars of Al-Azhar. Current trends are monitored and correct Islamic understandings are promoted to counter the negative interpretations of religions.
6. The delegation also visited ‘The Al-Azhar International E-Fatwa Centre’ where scholars of Islamic Law and Shari’ah provide instant answers and advice in numerous languages on any and every issue raised by phone, email, social media, etc. The delegation were shown demonstrations of the sophisticated system in place for providing E-Fatwas for male and female callers and the monitoring system of the answers given by the senior scholars of Al-Azhar.
7. The Vice-Principal also held a meeting with the respectable scholar, Shaykh Dr Abdul Fadeel al-Qawsi (Member of the Supreme Council of Al-Azhar Scholars and Vice-President of the World Organisation for Al-Azhar Graduates). A discussion on ‘Ilm al-Kalam and the global challenges of today facing the intellectual tradition of Islam were discussed. Shaykh al-Qawsi extended his gratitude for receiving the Arabic commentary of the Qur’an written by Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada titled ‘Imdad al-Karam fi Tafsir Khayr al-Kalim’ and forwarded his personal greetings and well-wishes to Shaykh Pirzada. Other meetings between the Vice-Principal and the leadership of the World Organisation for Al-Azhar Graduates also followed.
8. The delegation along with the graduates of Jamia Al-Karam and members of Al-Azhar Alumni UK also had the opportunity to visit Shaykh Muhammad al-Kurdi, who is the brother of Shaykh Diya’ al-Din al-Kurdi (ra) and grandson of Shaykh Muhammad Amin al-Kurdi (ra). Shaykh Muhammad al-Kurdi was much pleased to see the delegation and presented the English translation of ‘Tanwir al-Qulub’ written by Shaykh Amin al-Kurdi (ra) to the Vice-Principal. Later, the Vice-Principal was hosted at the home of Shaykh Muhammad Diya’, the son of Shaykh Diya’ al-Din al-Kurdi (ra) with whom the Vice-Principal and his colleagues spent a number of years together as students. The recent publication of Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, ‘Bukhari: The Sublime Tradition’, was presented to him.
During the visits, in addition to the above, the delegation met with Mr Ossama Yassin (Vice-Chairman for Administrative Affairs of the World Organisation for Al-Azhar Graduates), Dr Abdel Daim Nusaer (Special Assistant to the Grand Imam and Secretary-General of the World Organisation for Al-Azhar Graduates), and numerous others. In addition to the British trainees at Al-Azhar and the Vice-Principal, the delegation from the UK also comprised of Maulana Zein Hud al-Azhari, Qari Abu Adam Akhlaq al-Azhari, Mr Imran Hussain, Ustadh Hisham Mahmoud, Imam Abu Baqar Ali al-Azhari and Imam Hasnain Shakeel.
During their trip, the delegation visited the historical Al-Azhar Mosque as well as offered prayers and paid respects at the mosques and mausoleums of Imam al-Husayn (ra) and Sayyidah Zaynab (ra).