“An immoral man of learning is a great evil;
Yet a greater evil is an ignoramus leading a godly life.
Both are a great trial everywhere
To whomever clings to his religion.”
Imam Burhan al-Din al-Zarnuji cited the above lines of his poetry in his work, “Ta’lim Al-Muta’allim” (Instruction of the Student). A good reminder to all, especially to those who teach.
“We pray that you, Shaykh Dr Hisham, fulfill this additional trust (amana) of being connected to this historic institution; and we ask that God grants you aid and support.”
[Shaykh Seraj Hendricks in his letter of appointment of ‘senior scholar’ to the instructor. (Amin).]
Born to an English father and to an Egyptian mother of ʿAbbāsī-Sudanese & Ḥasanī-Moroccan heritage, he was raised between the West and the Arab world, before becoming educated at Sheffield and Warwick universities to post-doctoral levels in law and the social sciences. He studied – and studies – the Islamic intellectual tradition in the UK, Egypt, South Africa, the Gambia, Malaysia, Singapore, and elsewhere, keeping the company of traditionally trained-scholars, receiving different licences (ijazat) from them.
He began teaching privately some years ago works in fiqh, ‘aqida, and tasawwuf, after his shaykhs and teachers permitted, encouraged, and instructed him to do so, alongside his professional academic career.
This was particularly following the directives of his shaykh and teacher, al-‘allama, al-marhum, Shaykh Seraj Hassan Hendricks of Azzawia Institute. These classes also included the works of the Malaysian polymath, Tan Sri Professor Sayyid M. Naquib al-Attas, who mentored him in Malaysia in private one-to-one sessions over several years, encouraging him to teach.
Shaykh Seraj Hendricks and Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks, the khulafa’ of the Makkan sage and scholar’s scholar, al-allama, al-marhum, Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki, accorded him with the traditional licensure (ijaza) in January 2009. Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki, a monumental polymath of Islam in the 20th century, was a master of the tariqa ‘ulama Makka (the Sufi path of the Makkan sages); he was authorised in the same and appointed muqaddam in 2016.
A visiting fellow of the Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge, he was appointed as the first – and hitherto, only – professorial fellow in Islamic Studies at Cambridge Muslim College of Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad/ Dr. T.J. Winter. He also serves as a member of the Council of the British Board of Scholars and Imams; and is a visiting professor at the UTM RZS Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science and Civilisation [RZS-CASIS]. He was appointed by Shaykh Seraj Hendricks as the only senior scholar of Azzawia Institute in its century-long history, and is regularly included in the scholarly section of the annual global list of ‘The 500 Most Influential Muslims’ in the world (‘The Muslim 500’).
An academic for more than two decades, his career has included positions at Harvard University, the American University in Cairo, as well as research institutions including the Carnegie Endowment (US), the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (Malaysia) and Brookings (US). His seven books include A Sublime Path: the Sufi Way of the Makkan Sages (Fons Vitae and Dar al-Turath al-Islami) and Shaykh Seraj Hendricks: A Luminous Lamp in the Shade of Table Mountain (Dar al-Turath al-Islami).