Ep. 81: Allie Khalfe

 

Allie Khalfe, founder of the IslamicText Institute in Cape Town, is a pioneering author with the ability to translate classical and traditional Arabic texts into the English language in a way that grasps audiences on various levels. Recognized as an assiduous student of sacred knowledge, he spent over a decade at the feet of Shaykh Seraj and Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks, who are Cape Town’s leading scholars and heads of the Azzawia Institute in Walmer Estate. They, in turn, graduated from the Umm Al-Qura University in Mecca specializing in Usūl al-Fiqh, and spent about ten years at the feet of the ocean of knowledge, Al-Sayyid Muhammad bin ‘Alawī al-Mālikī, may Allah be pleased with all of them. These Shaykhs have bestowed their blessings upon Shaykh Allie and given him license (ijāzah) to teach various disciplines of Islamic knowledge.

He also spent two years at the Grand Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, sitting at the feet of some of the foremost scholars alive today, including Shaykh ‘Alī Jumu’a, Shaykh Fat’hī ‘Abdurahmān Al-Hijāzī, Shaykh Hasan Al-Shāfi’ī and Shaykh Hishām Kāmil, may Allah be pleased with them, all of whom he heard traditional texts from, with their permission to transmit these texts.

He was afforded some private learning sessions with Shaykh Sa’īd Mamdūh, to whom he read hadīth, Dr. Shaykh Yuri Jabr and Dr. Nahlah el-Harraki, to whom he read the entire Jawharah al-Tawhid. He also read the latter work in Medina to the one of the oldest living descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, Habib Jibril al-‘Attas.

He is currently completing his Masters in Islamic Studies, with a focus on Theology, at UNISA. His other works include: Sūrah Al-Fātiha: A Fellowship of Faith; the Mind, Body and Soul primary school kids syllabus; The Honour and Status of the Human Being; The Legacy: A Spiritual Journey to God, Islam: A Tradition of Mercy and the IslamicText Trivia game.

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Understanding the Muslim Mind

If we could take all of Islamic intellectual history, what sort of patterns and principles could we deduce? More importantly, if we found someone who actually knew all this information, what would they look like, think like, talk like, etc.?

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One of the unique features of Islam as an intellectual system is that it possesses a mechanism for renewal and revival within itself. This mechanism is the instrument of ijtihād- independent legal reasoning- that allows a trained and licensed jurist to develop new rulings and judgements for situations that are unprecedented, nuanced, and, in a way, of a troublesome nature. There is a lot of literature within Islamic legal tradition that explains the vast contours of ijtihād. Familiar discussions outline the common set of must-know legal rules and principles, interpretive tools used to unlock meanings within the primary texts, and auxiliary disciplines needed in order for one’s ijtihād to be effective and within the broad limits of orthodoxy. These are standard in any work that discuss the instrument of ijtihād. There are other discussions, however, that one comes across from time to time that shed a little more light on the phycology and mindset behind the person engaging in ijtihad, namely the mujtahid. One interesting description, courtesy of Imam Ghazali (d. 505/1111), is the need for the mujtahid to have vast amounts of creativity. The more creativity a mujtahid has, the more creative thinking they can bring to bear on a particular issue, the better they will be able to come up with right solutions and right answers; especially solutions that will last the test of time. To be creative in this context, therefore, is to think outside the box and dare to be innovative. It is to ask the right questions, not just memorize standard answers.

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