Peace, one and all…
Welcome to Abdur Rahman’s Corner, my little corner of cyberspace.
Introducing Abdur Rahman
I’m an English Muslim, living in the Valleys of South Wales (UK), though I’m originally from Hackney in the East End of London. I live with my family in Merthyr Tydfil, one time engine of the British Industrial Revolution and a former stronghold of the workers’ rights movement.
I’ve been a paid-up, card carrying member of Islam since 1998, though I’ve been interested in things Islamic since the early ’90s. I’m deeply fascinated by the religious traditions of the world in general, and by Islam in all its forms in particular. Like most converts, I’ve moved through many different groups. I’ve come to realise that I love the diversity of the Islamic tradition, and that I dislike narrow-mindedness in any form.
Broadly speaking, I am a Sunni Muslim, though with a deep interest in the Shi`a tradition. I am a part of the Threshold Society and the Mevlevi tariqa. My aim in writing this blog is to learn: about God, about myself and about this strange thing called life. As intention is fundamental to any spiritual growth, I’ve written some thoughts on this topic.
Abdur Rahman (which, incidentally, means ‘Servant of the Merciful’) is the name I chose when I became a Muslim some years ago. Although name changes are a common feature of the conversion experience, it is not a necessary requirement within Islam. However, in my own case, my choice of this particular name is purely aspirational; I would like to one day become a true servant of God.
My path to Islam was, by any stretch of the imagination, a gradual affair. In any case, my Islam was the result of a growing realisation of the centrality of God. Or, in rather less grandiose language, my eventual understanding of what Allah had always been trying to tell me! Or, once again, it was my awareness that I wanted God to be central to my life: the steering wheel and not just the spare tyre, as a song I once owned put it!
Although I took my time to investigate the teachings of Islam, I don’t think there was really any competition. Somehow, I think I always knew that I would eventually become a Muslim! Coming from the East End of London, I’ve always known Muslims (probably even before I was aware of what Islam was) and of these, some have been especially influential. As I learned more, I was always struck by the ennobling qualities of Islam: wherever Islam has put down roots, it has produced generous, warm, just and committed individuals.
Theologically, Islam just seemed to speak directly to me. It is simple to understand in its essentials, but not simplistic. It has a straightfoward and clear understanding of God and although some have commented that the God of the Quran is so high as to be distant, this is definitely not how I have experienced it.
The role and function of Muhammad (alaihi al-salatu wa al-salam) is also clear and easy to understand within Islam. Though a Prophet of God, he is indelibly human.
Islam has always struck me as radically life-affirming: there is no compulsion in faith; mankind has been born free under God; the middle path of tolerance, compassion and understanding is the only sane way to navigate the paths of this world. I try to embody the teachings of Islam in my life, though I am a faulty human being and I often make mistakes. And to God return all things…
Education & Career
By trade, I’m a teacher, tutor and student support worker. I have a deep and passionate interest in education. Learning is a fundamental part of human nature and a basic human right. To that end, I completed a PGCE in post-compulsory education and training in 2005 at Coleg Sir Gar. I began my own studies through an access course at City & Islington College in London in the mid-90s, and it was there that I first came to see just how hard teachers work.
I’m a historian by inclination and training (to which end I have another blog – the Islamic History Corner). I hold a BA in History from Lancaster University and an MA in Ancient History from the University of Wales Lampeter. My academic interests lie mainly within Ancient, Early Medieval and Islamic History. In particular, I’m deeply fascinated by the religious, social, political, cultural and intellectual history of the Ancient Middle East, Rome, Greece and Europe. I am especially interested in the historical development of Islam.
I am also an amateur poet, though I leave others to decide the merits of my work themselves. That said, you can find my collected poetry at The Corner Reloaded.
Well, that’s quite enough about me. In closing, let me offer this beautiful prayer of the Mevlevi Order, entitled The Rose Prayer:
‘May this moment be blessed. May goodness be opened and may evil be dispelled. May our humble plea be accepted in the Court of Honour; May the Most Glorious God purify and fill our hearts with the Light of His Greatest Name. May the hearts of the lovers be opened. By the breath of our master Mevlana, by the secret of Shams and Weled, by the holy light of Muhammad, by the generosity of Imam Ali, and the intercession of Muhammad, the unlettered prophet, mercy to all the worlds. May we say Hu, Huuu…’
Wa akhiru da’wana an il hamdu lillahi rabbil alameen