Book Review: Commentary on the Eleventh Contentions

Commentary of the Eleventh Contentions

Title: Commentary on the Eleventh Contentions
Author: Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
Publisher: The Quilliam Press (2012)

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad has been publishing sets of one hundred contentions and has recently just released the 18th set. For the  first time, he ventures to provide commentary on a set of contentions. Each contention captures an idea, thought or an assertion. The contentions are meaningful, intriguing concepts brilliantly conveyed and crafted in a few, succinct words. All of the contentions can be found on Sidi Masud Khan’s website:

In the short clip below which was recorded at the 2012 Rihla, Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad describes his most recent publication (starting at the 4:27 minute mark):


As Shaykh Abdal Hakim mentioned, some of the contentions are easily understood, and others require deep thought, research and knowledge into the subject matter and others may always remain very cryptic and puzzling. Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad covers a wide range of topics; he is fully conversant in both the eastern and western traditions, critical of the monoculture, and delivers important lessons to awaken the mind of the reader. A few excerpts are below:

21. Anthropomorphism is gender-biased.

Excerpt of the commentary:

To portray God as human forces a decision on race and gender, and therefore ‘excludes women and minorities’.

29. Nafs is a comedian. So enjoy your Sufism!

Excerpt of the commentary:

Humour is a divine subtlety in man, rooted in the absurdity of the possibility of human disagreement with reality. Its absence from nature indicates that it is connected to the struggle of the spirit, which only man can know. Lying or mockery are forbidden by the Sunna; and yet three forms of humour will do us immeasurable service.

Firstly: there is humour which shows us the absurdity of purely literalist religion. Here is one typical example. A sinner was once walking through a Bosnian forest. Suddenly a bear jumped out and began to chase him. As he ran the man started to panic, and as the bear drew closer, he started to pray for the first time in many years. Wondering what to say, and not wishing to anger Allah by calling down harm upon the beast, he finally said: ‘O Allah! Make this bear a Muslim!’ And when the bear caught up with him, it spoke, saying: Bismi’Llahi Rahmani Rahim – and ate him.

Lastly, in reading the Commentary on the Eleventh Contentions, I remembered Shaykh Hamza’s description of Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad and his works and how aptly it fit him. Shaykh Hamza’s comments are at the beginning of this video:


May Allah preserve Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad and enable us to benefit from his works. May Allah also provide us with the wherewithal to engage in deep, reflective thought as we travel through our modern life. Ameen.

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