The Meem Institute was established in Leicester in 2011 in order to transmit the sciences of the Deen, particularly the three sciences of Islam, Iman and Ihsan i.e. fiqh, ‘aqida and tasawwuf but not forgetting tafsir, hadith and other sciences, in the most traditional manner possible and in a way which would be recognised in any Muslim society in the world today.
There is, however, a fundamental difference in outlook that is important to explain. Rather than assuming that we are a beleaguered minority in an alien land, holding on to a vanishing culture and tradition, and surrounded by people who are hostile to Islam, our starting point is that we are historically in exactly the right place at the right time.
In terms of Western history, there is great significance in our presence here and the foundation of the Meem Institute. Thinkers, philosophers, scientists, artists and ordinary people in the West have been coming closer to Islam for centuries. The good will towards Muslims is much greater than we realise. Indeed, although we often blame the media for much, it was remarkable that when one Muslim father spoke clearly on the death of his son in unfortunate circumstances, the affirmation that came from even traditionally hostile media such as the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph was astounding.
We are forced to recognise that indeed some of the enmity we meet is due to our own mistakes. We ourselves have fostered a ghetto-mentality that people find excludes them, and this has been exacerbated by our importing scholars as imams who, through no fault of their own, have simply little idea about the problems people face in these lands and who as a result are almost completely unable to give any guidance. Moreover, while the globalised world threatens to slide into recession and war, it is clear that although Islam contains the solutions for most of the issues that face mankind, our silence on these issues is a failure of major proportions.
We have also allowed the growth of two movements who have in the main taken upon themselves to speak for us, when they do not represent Islam in any traditional sense whatsoever: these are the reactionaries who claim to be salafis, whom others call wahhabis, and the modernists. The former either reject the Western world in totality and represent Islam as intrinsically being from another land and epoch rather than being a universal Deen for all people throughout time, and the latter, on the contrary, abandon every recognisable feature of Islam in their wish to embrace the West and all its values, even when Westerners themselves are in some doubt as to the merit of some of those values. Between them these two groups have taken upon themselves to represent Islam in the public sphere and they dominate the image of Islam in the public eye, thus generating a great deal of confusion.
Indeed, so serious has it become that our own Islam is seriously weakened and our children imperilled. We in our turn have abandoned our children to state education and in consequence they are rapidly being indoctrinated by it and the media in values that are unacceptable to us.
It has come to the point that many of our young people feel forced either to abandon the Deen or start again. The latter have rejected traditional transmissions of Islam such as the madhhabs and the tariqas and have gone back to accessing the Book and the hadith directly, without any qualifications to do so and thus resulting in great confusion.
We have, to our credit, built mosques and established the prayer, and we have made halal food freely available. There is a vibrant culture of madrasas which ensure that the generality of Muslim children can recite Qur’an and know how to perform and the prayer, while a core group go on to memorise the Qur’an and become expert in the sciences of the Deen. But many important aspects of Islam are nowhere apparent in our lives, and ordinary Muslims lack anything but the most elementary knowledge of the prayer.
Now this is simply out of tune with Islam and out of tune with the time we live in. This is an age in which knowledge is of prime importance.
At this point the logic for establishing an institution for teaching Islam according to the transmission of the first community in Madina is irrefutable, and its basis as a model for a luminous civilisation is undeniable. The Qur’an was revealed and the Shari’ah was first implemented there, and the people of Madina embodied Islam in such a luminous fashion that it still has the power to move people all over the earth more than a thousand years later. Madina is the point of consensus among all the Muslims of every madhhab, and all hearts yearn for its lights.
Thus, the Meem Institute will teach Islam according to the soundest transmissions from the people of Madina according to their Imam, Malik ibn Anas, whose hadiths are the jewel of hadith scholars from every school and every land, and whose transmission of the Sunnah is beyond reproach. Most significantly he detailed the luminous Madina of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
And Why Meem?
Meem is for the Muslim who deepens in Iman and becomes Mumin, and travels the path of Ihsan to become Muhsin, following in the footsteps of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, who was from Makkah and who established the Deen in all the splendour of Islam, Iman and Ihsan in Madinah. The most authentic and reliable of all transmissions of that is from Malik in his Muwatta, including the ‘amal-Practice of the People of Madinah which is like the strongest of Mutawatir hadith. The Muwatta is reinforced by what is transmitted from Malik in the Mudawwanah. That latter book was abridged in the Mukhtasar of Khalil which was in turn summarised in verse in the Murshid al-Mu’een of Ibn ‘Ashir which is the basis for a great deal of the teaching in the Meem Institute.