Enlightenment from the Sacred Precinct: A Manual on the Art of Reading (Paperback)Imam Ghazali Institute
Enlightenment from the Sacred Precinct : A Manual on the Art of Reading
First English translation of Fayd al-Haram, New
Ships 1st December 2017
by Imam Ahmad ibn Lutfullah al-Mulawi [d.1113h],
Translation & Notes by Mikaeel Ahmed Smith
Foreword by Dr. Jonathan Brown & Dr. Shadee Elmasry,
IGI Enlightenment Series
Fayd al-Haram is a unique gem in the Islamic intellectual history pertaining to pedagogical thought. Students who were in search of texts that outlined the correct method of the acquisition of knowledge would encounter books focused mainly on the etiquettes of learning. These etiquettes included daily activities such as the order of stacking books, manners when eating, and intentions for learning.
While we hold these mannerisms as necessary principles to follow, a student in the context of the modern world is direly in need of learning the tools to decipher texts and acquire knowledge. We believe that the author’s fear of a paradigm shift away from critical analysis within the Islamic educational system has been actualized.
It is our hope that readers of this book will benefit from the advice imparted to us by Shaykh Ahmed bin Lutfullah. We believe that this text will elucidate some of best practices on the manners and methods regarding the acquisition of knowledge.
“Today, we find ourselves in a moment filled with critical thinkers, authors, speakers and activists that can amplify their voices and spread their ideas, while not necessarily appreciating the sanctity and sensitivity of theology, and the grave consequences of errors therein. Well-intentioned influencers may end up spreading misguidance without even realizing it...[and] we find ourselves in the ‘Wild Wild West’ of Islamic thought, where no identifiable majority, university or canon can be found to offer any measure of stability. This is all the more reason for us to emphasize knowledge and equally important, the process of its acquisition.” — Dr. Shadee Elmasry, Safina Society.
“Ahmad ibn Luftfullah’s Fayd al-Haram, translated here, provides a glimpse into how pre-modern Muslim scholars conceptualised the process of reading, understanding, retaining and employing knowledge. In that sense, it is a valuable historical artifact for those interested in Islamic intellectual history...” — Dr. Jonathan AC Brown, Chair of Islamic Civilisation - Georgetown University.
Shaykh Ahmad ibn Lutfullah was born in Salonika, Greece, although his father Lutfulah was a native of Konya, Turkey. Shaykh Ahmad excelled in Arabic, Islamic Law, Prophetic Traditions, and Qur'anic Exegesis. His intellectual strength and spiritual depth caught the eye of many people in Ottoman Turkey. In 1667 he was assigned to take up the Chief Astronomers post by Sultan Mehmed IV. It is very clear that Sultan Mehmed IV held Shaykh Ahmad's intellectual acumen and spiritual depth in high regard and eventually honoured him with the position of Musahib-i Padishahi ("Imperial Companion") thus allowing him access to the innermost circle of the Sultan. He was the author of numerous books on a wide range of topics and passed away in Makkah 1702 C.E /1113 Hijri.
Mikaeel Ahmed Smith is a teacher, writer, and activist. At the age of 18, he embraced Islam. Within a year after his shahadah, he learned to read Arabic and memorised the Qur’an. In 2008, he traveled overseas to study Arabic in Damascus, Syria. Upon his return, he continued studying the Islamic sciences in Buffalo, New York. In 2012, he completed his studies of the Sihah Sitta and Qur’anic Tafseer, earning his degree in Islamic Studies.