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Vertical Integration

of Muslim agency

Based on

Travelling Home; Abdal Hakim Murad

Edited by OmarKN

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It is the universalism of Islam and its Abrahamic recognisability which opens hearts… a kind of homeward journey.

This text is mostly quotes from the first two chapters of Travelling Home; Abdal Hakim Murad[9], otherwise interpolations (…), or the explations by the page editor […].

1. Intro

Our situation today (2022) is that we are exposed to a lot of Lahabism (Abu Lahab), not based on fear like a phobia, but on “selfcenteredness and arrogance, kibr, superbia”, which are of the 7 deadly sins. 36

This Lahabism is embedded in “the appeal to identity and civilizational depth as a defensive line against the growing Ishmaelite[10] presence,” it “has been subtly internatilized in much mainstream political and media discourse.” 44

(There is this) traumatic dissolving of the Western Same[1] … but preventive medicine is always preferable. Muslim communities need to understand the pain which many Europeans feel in their spiritual and cultural exile, and find Islamic reasons not to patronise and moralise, but to sympathise with and respect their sense of loss and nostalgia for a more straightforward, homogenous and comforting world. 51

2. Self-criticism

Mosque “leadership does little to lead the young.” 48
The Muslim reaction to Europe's diverse but discrete populist turn has so far been indistinct, mosque leadership are generally unfamiliar with any novelty occurring outside their silos. 50

1st duty of Muslims here

The first duty of Muslims here is to pray for this atomised Europe: tawhīd and daʿwa rooted Islam: understand and emphasise [compassion] 52

Humanity is either
ummat al-ijāba the umma that has 'responded' Muslim
ummat al-daʿwa the umma that is 'called' non-Muslim

Only this strategy created on religion and its founder - may Allah bless him and grant him peace - as { mercy to the worlds} (21–107) is likely to achieve permanent results. 52

4. Belonging or not belonging

The whole world is God's wide earth. 53

To be alienated from meaning is effectively to be alienated from everything. 53

5. Daʿwa - Invitation to Islam

Every human circumstance requires engaging with human spirits, even the most inflamed of which are never irrevocably closed. … Islam's great missionary success have been the consequence of a similar optimism about monotheism's magnetic power. 54

It is not difficult … to see Islam as a repository of timeless wisdom, that enables [persons] to lead lives that are genuinly in line with tradition…, [accepting] Jesus, the historic moral and spiritual patriarch of Europe, now wonderfully accessible as prophet rather than as [almighty ruler]. No alternative thought-system can offer them such a combination, and in hoc signo vinces.[2] 55

There is an apathy towards daʿwa resonsibilities. 64

For Muslim organizations… their prime Sharia legitimation is daʿwa. 62

6. Islam's Universalism

It is the universalism of Islam and its Abrahamic recognisability[3] which opens hearts. (A kind of homeward journey). 60

It is our duty to shed the ʿurf and ʿādah[4] decorations of foreign lands (and to) reactivate the rule [of respecting cultural differences]. 61

7. Vertical Integration

[For example] reinvigorating the local language, … Muslims should write expressively. 62

Sufism in the West is poorly equipped to refute the Lahabists of Generation Identity. 64
Converts have misread Sufism and missed their strategic vocation. 65

Necessary to return to the classical principle of inculturation.[5] 65

Necessary: a recognisably local religious style to attract and retain newcomers. 66

(This) is an authentic Islam which rises above Fearful complexes and insecurities (and which) is able to see that European Muslims and Bible believers, ahl kitāb, evidently converge on key Abrahamic ideals, though never perfectly.[3]

This is called vertical integration.[6]

8. Prophetic Saying - hadith

Muslims are already attempting to mine their country’s heritage for gold that can be smelted[7] in a Muslim way. 65

Wisdom hadith

الْكَلِمَةُ الْحِكْمَةُ ضَالَّةُ الْمُؤْمِنِ فَحَيْثُ وَجَدَهَا فَهُوَ أَحَقُّ بِهَا

"The word of wisdom is the lost property of the believer. Wherever he finds it, he is most deserving of it.” [8]


  1. It is Godlessness and modernity, not immigration, which have turned the Somewheres into Anywheres; and so Ishmael[10], comporting himself as believer, is not in fact inseparable from the problem, and should be able to function as remedy, not pathogen. 53  ↩

  2. in hoc signo vinces: in this symbol you will win or conquer.  ↩

  3. Abrahamic love and hospitality, curiosity and the ability to find value in others and their cultural forms. 66  ↩ ,  ↩

  4. ʿādah, (Arabic: "custom”), in Islāmic law, a local custom that is given a particular consideration by judicial authorities even when it conflicts with some principle of canon law (Sharīʿah); in Indonesia it is known as adat, in North Africa it is ʿurf, and in East Africa, dustūr.…
    Such ʿādahs are accepted by religious courts as legitimate local laws that must be respected by others. (For example) each community has developed its own norms for handling disputes, and these may often disagree with standard religious teachings. Nevertheless, authorities condone various religious customs to foster harmony and peace in the community.
    - ʿādah | Islamic law | Britannica
    Approved or Valid Custom (al-ʿurf al-sahīh)
    "One which is observed by the people at large without there being any indication in the Shari'ah that it contravenes any of its principles.”

    Disapproved Custom (al-ʿurf al-fāsid)
    "Also practiced by the people but there is evidence to show that it is repugnant to the principles of Shari'ah.”
    - The Role of 'Urf (Custom) in Islamic Law - The Thinking Muslim

  5. Inculturation: the process by which an individual learns the traditional content of a culture so that it is fully understood and can be used.
    - adapted from merriam-webster.com  ↩

  6. vertical integration as contrasted with horizontal integration, which is what is usually expected by majority society: Strip your 'preconcieved' cultural and religious 'baggage' and become like us - disillussioned, godless, careless, 'modern' and eventually more or less confused human beings.  ↩

  7. extract (metal) from its ore by a process involving heating and melting: tin smelting.  ↩

  8. Abu Huraira reported it from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2687, graded Hasan (fair) according to Al-Suyuti  ↩

  9. Travelling Home, Essays on Islam in Europe; Abdal Hakim Murad; The Quilliam Press Ltd; 2020
    Travelling Home : For example from
    Blackwell's blackwells.co.uk - bookshop

  10. Why Ishmael? (AHM from the YT presentation)

    Everything in those ancient scriptural bifurcatuions has an ongoing relevance and interest and in this case it is one that is differently signified in Biblical, Jewish & Christian traditions and then in the Islamic tradition.

    Ishamel is constructed by the authors of the book of Genesis as the sign of unchosenness, he is the first born and seems to be the heir of the promise, land, many children, prosperity,
    but then in one of those remarcable Genesis' twists, Sara (who was in her 80ies) becomes pregnant and another child is born, that is then taken to be heir to this promise.

    Right at the beginning of the Abrahamic religions you have this difficult sense of parting of the ways … of city dweller against nomad, ingroups against outgroups, (maybe) the most important bifurcations that the authors of the Bible wanted to work with.
    And evidently it has always been taken up as a sign of the chosen and the unchosen. (St. Paul in Galatians, Augustinus, Spanish Reconquista)

    But in the Genesis there is a lot of implicit sympathy for Ishmael and his mother. Sara gets jealous and Hagar & the child Ishmael are driven out into the wilderness ( a kind of death sentence).

    [In this regard the] 1st prayer that the Bible attributes to a woman and an angel appearing to the woman - i.e. to Hagar,
    and a number of other signs of favour which you wouldn't have expected had the original intention of the text been to present this as the dark other, as the outcast and perpetually to be the adversary of God's people.

    So by implication Egypt (Hagar is from Egypt ) and Africa is the signs of unchosenness.

    [Eventually] it's a sign that God tends to work with the outcast and not with the priviledged.

    Ishmael - a proto narrative for us Muslims, particularly in the diaspora situation.
    Ishmael doesn't return home, but finds a new place which turns out to be a neglected sanctuary. And from this time Islam has been a religion of migrants, of the muhājirīn, and of the extraordinary globalisation of Islam. Hagar and Ishmael as kind of proto founders of the religion, an interesting sign of the mobility of Islam.

    Being here, not just to somehow find some kind of modus vivendi, but also a theological imperative.


Related texts by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
link-in The Crisis of Modern Consciousness, Notes & Transcript
link-in Intelligence and Reason in Islam
link-in The Paradox of Our Condition, Quotes on Modernity

link-in Travelling Home – Abdal Hakim Murad: Tea Over Books youtube.com

Twenty years to the day since 9/11, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad talks about his book 'Travelling Home: Essays on Islam in Europe' in which he dissects the rise of Islamophobia on the basis of Muslim theological tradition, showing that a compassion-based approach, rooted in an authentic theology of divine power, could transform the current quagmire into a bright landscape of great promise for Muslims and their neighbours.

0:00 Introduction
1:25 Why was the book's cover image chosen?
2:32 The legacy of Ishmael
= continues on YT page =


* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *