An Update From Dubai
25 June, 2015
Assalāmu 'alaykum warahmatullāhi wa barakātuhu,
It's been over 200 days since I last posted something on my blog, and probably a similar length of time since posting on Twitter. With the beginning of Ramadan, I figure that now is a good time to post an update. In my last post, I mentioned that I was going abroad, but I didn't mention where. That was deliberate, so that I was able to have some time to settle in. I think most people know by now that I've moved to Dubai, and I'm now working with Kalemah Islamic Centre.
So why Dubai?
Well, when I decided to take a break from the UK, I had certain goals in mind, including:
- A dedicated job in a da'wah related field, that gives me the flexibility to work on my own projects.
- A desire to pursue further study and personal development opportunities.
- An opportunity to develop the Humble Foundation further.
- A degree of financial stability.
- Allowing the children to experience the language and culture of the Middle East.
- A fresh outlook.
Allāh blessed me with finding the balance that I was looking for in Dubai. Now, for the record, I believe that Dubai has an unfairly poor reputation from an Islamic perspective. No doubt, there are places in Dubai that are as bad as some European cities - some would say worse - but there is also a very strong Islamic revival here, much of it in accordance with the Sunnah, supported by the Dubai Government. Dubai stands head and shoulders above the other emirates in terms of Islamic activities, even ahead of Sharjah, which used to be considered to be more conservative. Most importantly for me, there are da'wah opportunities everywhere, and da'wah is actively encouraged. I didn't want to move somewhere that I would be just attending the masjid and going to lectures, but somewhere where I could get hands-on experience with new Muslims and non-Muslims.
I visited Dubai twice before accepting an invitation from Kalemah to join the team, and so far it has exceeded my expectations, and all praise is for Allāh. I have the dedicated job that gives me the flexibility to work on local and international projects, to travel both inside and outside of the UAE, and to develop myself - all as part of work time. The Humble Foundation has a significant portion of my time, and the projects are finally moving forward, and the children are experiencing both the Arabic language and going to the masjid every day.
Of course, in terms of seeking knowledge, the UAE is more limited, but my initial goals are proving to be achievable, by the grace of Allah. My first two goals are to improve the standard of my memorisation of the Qur'an (including fixing my regular errors, patchy memorisation, and adding Warsh as a style of recitation), and to do some self-study, including revision of what I studied in Madeenah, and extra reading around key topics. In terms of Qur'an, there are good teachers here from all over the world, and in terms of self-study, the biggest thing that I needed was the time to do it, and I'm slowly finding my feet in that regard. In terms of traditional study, there is a small, but strong group of scholars and students of knowledge within easy reach of Dubai, and regular visits from scholars of the GCC, including Saudi. Certainly, there's enough to get started with, after the help of Allāh.
Also, in terms of personal development, my number one goal was to be more active in da'wah to non-Muslims. I felt that in the UK, almost all of my Islamic work was lectures to Muslims, and that's just how Allāh decreed that it was made easy for me. Perhaps I am more reluctant than I should be when it comes to approaching non-Muslims and calling them to Islam, so I felt that I needed a push to get more involved. Kalemah's primary goals include presenting Islam to non-Muslims, and supporting new Muslims, so that ties in perfectly with my own goals for personal development. It also ties in nicely with the Humble Foundation, and we have our first joint project already underway, called Welcome to Islam.
Settling in took some time, hence the fact that I haven't touched twitter or the website, and I've barely touched emails since I came. Now, things are more settled and organised, and I just started a 2½ month break from teaching, which means that I have a little more time to work on the personal stuff, in shā' Allāh.
As for where I am right now, here's a quick update:
- Humble Foundation: I'm almost working full-time on Humble Foundation projects for the next couple of months, since I'm not teaching. Primary goals are to finish volume eight of Tafseer as-Sa'dī (keep an eye out for that on twitter which I'm intending to start up again next week), to finish the Allah's Names first draft, and to complete Welcome to Islam. All of these are scheduled for release before Hajj, and I very much hope that with the help of Allāh, they will provide the critical mass needed to push the foundation to the next level. I'm quietly confident, that with the help of Allāh, then a strong push from the volunteers, we can meet our deadlines for the 2014/15 projects.
- Muhammad Tim Website: The update for this is long overdue. I've got a new logo and site design, and I made the decision to move the Ruqyah Q&A project to muhammadtim.com, instead of the Humble Foundation. That's because I don't want to have any overlap between myself and the foundation, where lines become blurred. So, muhammadtim.com will be outside of the Humble Foundation, and will deal with my own personal lectures, study notes, ruqyah Q&A, and so on. I take the foundation extremely seriously, and I wouldn't dream of doing anything to compromise it, so I hope that this will provide a clear line between the two.
- Emails: These are a big problem. I still have over 500 outstanding emails and they've become impossible to manage. I'm trying to work hard to get muhammadtim.com ready, and really to push people to use the resources on there, instead of emailing. It is the decree of Allāh, and He does what He wants, that so many projects have been lost or delayed because of these emails, including the Humble Foundation projects. In short, the aim is to (a) move as much generic content and answers to muhammadtim.com as possible; (b) to have a much stricter policy of pushing people to use the website, rather than send emails, including automated answer/rejection for emails for which the answer can be found on the site or which don't fulfil requirements; and (c) to clear the existing backlog within the next two months. I know that many people would say, just don't answer them! That would be my last resort, and I really believe that with the help of Allāh, and better use of the website, the problem can be fixed. Otherwise, I've basically decided that emails have to come last, and projects first; hence why there are now over 500 waiting for an answer! By Allāh, it pains me to have to ask people to wait, but without a long-term fix, the problem isn't going to get any better, and Allāh knows best.
- Travelling Back: I'm eligible, according to the terms of my agreement with Kalemah, to come back to the UK after Hajj, at least for a month, but I'm not in any great rush to do so. I came back for a family matter earlier in the year for less than a week, and that was enough, al-hamdulillāh. I came to Dubai to try to achieve a set of clear goals, and those have to take precedence over coming back to the UK. I've cut down on all international speaking and lectures, because - as I said in my earlier post - I don't want to be the same Muhammad Tim, doing the same lectures, with the same mistakes; I don't believe that is compatible with the lofty aspirations of a Muslim. I'd rather correct the material that I have (such as having my own YouTube/Vimeo channel where I edit the videos and check them for mistakes), catch up on outstanding tasks, and suffice with the lectures here in the UAE (for those of you in the UAE, you can find out about them through kalemah.org).
So...back to work, and I'll do my best not to take 200 days until the next update, in shā' Allāh!
Wassalāmu 'alaykum warahmatullāhi wa barakātuhu,