Posted by: Dawud Israel | March 21, 2010

New Project: ilmp3 study space


Bismillah, alhamdulillah, wa salat wa salam ala rasulullah

In the history of Islam, and the move towards modernity, Islam has suffered greatly. We find much of the meaning that was given to our experience of the world, the spiritual meaning that is, has vanished. Instead, it is replaced with utilitarian thinking and aspirations that do not go beyond our basic needs. I seek to change this and push Muslims to the thirst of knowledge, true blessed knowledge, not your intro-to-Islam fluffy class of ilm. Honestly, I could write endlessly about the “epistemicide” of Islam.

‘Ilm in itself is blessed. Our understanding of ilm today is completely different from the past and I have mentioned this before. When I say blessed it is not simply a fancy metaphorical word, but things occur because of ilm, whether it be hadith or Quran- theophanies occur, the sick are cured and one assuredly comes closer to Allah.

See the sidebar for the ilmp3 audio player. Just hit play!
ilmp3 is a tiny web-space where I share my notes from lectures, summaries and excerpts from books (in full) and most importantly audio notes, or ilmp3 audio files which are maybe 10 seconds to 2-3 minutes long in length which is a way of learning hadith or verses in audio form. It’s meant to be like a virtual study area. It’s an idea that hopes catches on. This is what happens when DJ technology meets a wannabe student of Islam.

ilmp3 is a unique project in that it seeks to restore the sacred importance of the scribe once again. In the past, the learned was the scribe who copied books out manually. With the printing press, came a spread of knowledge (a little knowledge is a dangerous thing) but also a loss of the sacred value of the hand-written word. The scholars of the past would take special care of their pens, because they understood the sacred quality of the word. In our times, this is lost. ilmp3 is an attempt to resurrect the oral tradition of Islam, or one could say the aural tradition of Islam. There is little that is written, except as a signifier for what is oral, but this is important because there is more focus on the oral aspects, that are in our history of hadith transmission and Quran memorization from the early days of Islam. I intend to bring ‘Oral literacy’ as it were back into the center of Islamic pedagogy. The role of the scribe is not about merely copying, but about copying onto your soul, and incorporating into your thoughts and actions and that is the goal here with the audio hadiths, verses and explanations.

Secondly, there is another phenomenon at work, which a professor once delineated to me. Writing and though in our society is linear, we move forward line by line, and don’t look back. But oral communities have are circular…like loopty-loops one line of verse is recited, then another, and then they go back to the first 2 and then say the final line. The structure of oral traditions is designed to be more memorable, easier to learn and although it proceeds in a forward direction, it takes 2 steps forward, one step back and then 2 more forward again, over and over again. So in this way it is better suited to learning, memorization, contemplation and explication in one’s mind. It’s a more organic form of learning since our minds don’t think linearly, getting ideas from here and there haphazardly and since we are primarily social creatures, learning is largely a social activity.

I will update it as often as I can but its largely meant for my own learning so it is a little messy at times, especially the excerpts. Also I’m not limited to any particular religious sources, what I have up there is just from the last time I updated it, so if you know of speakers from around the world who are excellent to listen to, please mention them in the comments!


Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


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