Monday, October 26, 2009

Spending Time with Imam Al-Haddad (from Sufi Sage of Arabia)

Those who accompanied the Imam on his journeys and were intimate enough to be able to observe him closely said that he slept very little, mostly in short snatches, and then so lightly that it was difficult to say whether he was asleep or simply resting. Some nights he slept not at all. He rose long before dawn and began his awrad even as he prepared his own coffee. These awrad included three Fatihas, one for the general welfare of all Muslims, a second for his deceased ancestors and teachers, and a third for the fulfillment of his needs and those of the people around him. He also recited ayat al-kursi in a special manner that included the interpolation of 116 invocations of the Divine name Qawiy(Mighty) between its words. Haven taken his coffee , he made his ritual ablutions with slow deliberation and thoroughness. He then rose to his prayers which he opened with two short rak'as, followed by the witr of eleven very long rak'as with prolonged du'a in between and du'a al-qunut at the end. He then carried on with his awrad until he heard the adhan for the Fajr prayer, at which time he prayed the sunnah at home and waited for the iqama before appearing in the adjoining mosque. He was never known to have prayed the five ritual prayers other than in congregation, at the prime time soon after the adhan, and with full attentiveness and reverence. He disliked being spoken to in the interval between the adhan and the prayer, since this was the time one is supposed to be collecting oneself, preparing to enter the Divine Presense. Following the Fajr prayer he remained seated, reciting his awrad, until the sun rose high above the horizon, at which time he prayed the 4 rakats of sunnat al-ishraq. Then he continued his awrad until it was time for the eight rak'as constituting the sunnah of Duha. Then he received his guests, had brief teaching sessions and sometimes listened to Sufi poems being chanted in the Hadrami manner. On Friday he often remained in the mosque until the jumu'a prayer reciting the two surahs of al-kahf and Ta-ha among other things. After the Dhur prayer and sunna he recited 1,000 times la ilaha illa allah(There is no deity but God) doubling the number during Ramadhan and the first five ir six days of Shawwal. Most of his regular teaching sessions took place between Asr and Maghrib, Following which he prayed 20 rakats. His sessions of dhikr took place after Isha. He retired to his quarters to continue with his awrad. These he preferred to keep hidden, except from those of his family and disciples he hoped would emulate him.
The Imam's behavior towards his family and those around him was a model to be copied by those wishing to improve their own. He was a constant living reminder of how God and his Messenger wish a community to behave. Whenever a youngster from among his relatives-however distant-became orphaned, he was always the first to claim him or her into his family, so that they were constantly orphans being raised in his house with his own children. He inquired about poor families, especially widows, and extended regular assistance to them, especially during feast days and other seasons. The workers on his property were under his instruction to allow strangers, travelers, and the poor to eat from them freely. Whenever he hired workers for a task he always paid them more then he had promised and more then the current worth of the work on the market, so as to make sure they departed content and at peace. His house was ever full of guests and his table always ready to receive more, especially in Ramadan. He and his disciples were living examples of how one should be patient and serene in times of hardship and generous in times of affluence, how to be tolerant of each others weaknesses, and how to carefully nurture their ties of kinship.

Ordering your time by Imam Abu Hamad al Ghazali

You must not be relaxed in the ordering of your time; doing at any moment whatever chances to present itself as it presents itself. Rather you must keep strict revision of yourself and regulate your occupations and activities throughout the day and night, having something fixed to occupy every hour and neither doing anything outside it's fixed time nor doing anything else in that time. In this way the blessing on your time will be evident.
If however, you have uselessly neglected yourself as the animals do; not knowing what to do each hour, then, most of your time will be elapsed fruitlessly, and your life will have slipped from you. For your life is your capital and the basis of your net worth; by it you may attain to the joy of the eternal mansion where God most high is near. Every breath you draw is a jewel of inestimable worth, which nothing can replace it. Once it has passed, it cannot come back.
Do not be like the poor deluded fools who are delighted every day at the increase of their wealth and the decrease of their days. What good is there in increase of wealth when life is decreasing? Delight only in increase of knowledge and of good works, for they are friends who will continue to be with you in the tomb when your family, your wealth ,your children, and your friends are all left behind.

40 Grand lesson of Shaykh Nuh Keller

Lesson Zero: “The Forty Grand”

If one plants an orchard on a chemical dump without first digging it out and replacing it with good soil, it will produce poisonous fruit. Similarly, the spiritual traveller who harbors vile character in his heart cannot go very far in the path until he addresses it. This lesson works on two key fundamentals of akhlaq or “good character”: establishing the prayer and holding one’s temper. It consists in forty days in a row of doing these two things.

I. During this lesson (and each of the subsequent muraqaba lessons), if one delays any of the five obligatory prayers (including witr, if one is Hanafi) past its valid time by, for example, sleeping through the dawn prayer until sunrise—unless there is a valid excuse such as one’s monthly period or joining two prayers for travel or rain—it immediately vitiates the forty days and one must return to begin them again from day one, and then finish from there. Its ongoing relation to subsequent lessons is explained in the last section of this lesson.

II. The same is true of showing anger towards others for the sake of one’s nafs or “ego,” which also vitiates the forty days, and necessitates they be begun again and finished out in a row. Now, anger is part of the human soul which Allah has created with a divine wisdom, and this lesson is not vitiated by using it in its proper place, such as in jihad against the enemies of Allah to render His Word paramount; or jihad against one’s spiritual enemies: the ego (nafs), caprice (hawa), this world (dunya), the Devil; or jihad against the bad and false (batil) when one’s intention is purely for Allah. This lesson is only vitiated by anger that is unacceptable by the standards of Sacred Law and hence the spiritual path.

From ancient times, sages have observed that “anger buys what it wants at the price of soul,” and tantrums have always been regarded as the opposite of spirituality. In an earlier day, what was termed “rage” in men was called “hysteria” in women, while in modern times some manifestations of it have been dignified with names like “road-rage.” When the smoke clears however, the problem is much the same: people who think it is acceptable to act like spoiled brats.

Islam does not accept this. Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami has listed “anger for the sake of one’s ego” as an enormity in al-Zawajir, his work on major sins. A man came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and said, “Advise me.” He replied, “Don’t get angry.” The man repeated himself several times, but the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) only said: “Don’t get angry” (Bukhari, 8.35: 6116. S).

The ulema of Sacred Law interpret this hadith figuratively, as meaning to refrain from the bad consequences of anger; namely, saying or doing what comes to mind when angry. This is the work of this lesson. The sheikhs of the path however, interpret the hadith literally, saying that the cause of anger for the sake of the ego is arrogance (kibr), which is itself unlawful, and one of the most imperative of things to get rid of in the spiritual path.

To do this, one must be able to discern whether one’s anger is for oneself and one’s ego, as is common, or is for the sake of Allah or one’s fellow man, as is rare. Only anger for the sake of Allah or one’s fellow man is acceptable during this lesson, while anger for oneself and one’s ego, if one exceeds the bounds, interrupts the lesson and necessitates beginning again. The outward signs of anger for the ego that breaks the continuity of this lesson may be summarized in the following guidelines and examples, from which similar cases may be judged.
Things that Break the Forty Grand if Done Three Times

(1) The Forty Grand is broken by three separate occurrences of verbal anger within forty days, “verbal anger” for the purposes of this lesson meaning raising one’s voice more than four sentences. As soon as one begins a fifth sentence with a raised voice, flushed face, or threatening or indignant manner, it is an instance of verbal anger. Its first occurrence in forty days is a warning from Allah to control oneself. The second is one’s last chance. The third vitiates the lesson.

* Nagging or scolding also constitutes a single occurrence of “verbal anger” if accompanied by a raised voice, vehemence, or angry recriminations—but not if it is mere low-key whining, though the latter is effeminate and unbecoming from men, useless and annoying from women, and almost always detrimental to the affection and respect that should exist between two people, whether husband and wife, or parent and child.
* When one is debating or contesting a point with someone at work, home, or other venue in which an occasional debate is customary and serves a genuine purpose, some excitedness is normal, and does not amount to an instance of “verbal anger” in such circumstances unless it results in impugning the other’s person, as opposed to his mistaken words or beliefs or actions. Impugning the reason why someone is saying something does not vitiate the lesson if it is significant to the discussion and done without vehemence or rancor.
* If one has been wronged by someone and is angrily “getting it off one’s chest” to a third party, then if there is no palpable benefit or improvement that the listener is capable of rendering besides listening, it is slander (ghiba), and as such is unlawful (haram) and necessitates repentance, though it does not break the forty days unless the person being badly talked about is actually present.

(2) The lesson is broken by three occurrences of anger that results in insult, ridicule, shouting, vituperation, cutting remarks, taunts, gibes, quarrelling, lying accusations, unfair exaggerations, angrily honking one’s horn, or slamming doors,.

(3) Disciplining or raising one’s voice at children or others under one’s authority only constitutes an instance of “anger” (of which three break the Forty Grand) when done out of anger for the sake of the ego; as for example, when purely out of indignation at an affront to one’s authority, or similar egotistical motive. It does not vitiate the forty days if done sincerely for their sake, or the general betterment of the state or situation. For example, if a mother is angry and yells at her son because he might hurt himself by doing the like of it, this would not break the lesson, because it is for the child’s sake, not her own. If her motive is mixed, but at least some of it is for the child’s welfare, it also does not break the lesson. It is only broken by purely self-centered anger.

(4) The same applies to standing up in anger, when necessary, to a bullying supervisor, husband, wife, or other: it must be intended, at least in part, for their good, or to improve the situation, not merely to vindicate oneself or put the other person in their place. To decide what one’s motive was, here or in (3) above, one must look carefully at what was in one’s heart at the moment the action came to mind.

(5) Whenever the unacceptable occurrences of anger mentioned in (1), (2), (3), or (4) add up together to three times during a forty-day period, they break the lesson.
Things That Break the Forty Grand Immediately

(6) The Forty Grand is also vitiated by a single occurrence of such things as angrily breaking or throwing or destroying things, blows, vulgarity, cursing, spitting, or other typical elements of tantrums. Or refusing to talk to someone out of anger and not making up and returning to civil words within twenty-four hours if they live in the same house, or three days if they live elsewhere. Or deliberately harming another’s person or property, whether outwardly angry or not. Or deliberately doing something that they take great offense at, such as walking out or hanging up on them.
Curing One’s Anger Problem

The following measures should be used to eliminate bad temper:

1. Feel disgust at the antics of the nafs for having committed an act of disobedience to Allah for the sake of nothing.
2. Sincerely ask Allah’s help in overcoming anger. The sunna is to say A‘udhu bi Llahi min ash-Shaytani r-Rajim (I take refuge in Allah from the accursed Devil). Abu Madyan has said, “Whoever does not seek Allah’s help against his ego will be thrown by it.” It is also of the sunna to make ablution (wudu) if angry; or if walking, to stand still; or if standing, to sit down; or sitting, to lie back.
3. Implacably persist in this lesson. Return to it again and again until you have the nafs in hand and can control it: eventually it will give up. If one pretends to be cool-headed and persists in pretending to be so, Allah eventually disposes the heart to be that way. For centuries, Sufis have used such takalluf or “pretending” to first imitate, then approximate, and then attain the qualities they have sought.
4. Put baraka in your life by eating halal food from the work of your own hands. The best food is that which you or your family prepare. Eat at least one meal daily together as a family at home. Eat the food of the righteous. Restaurants and fast food daub the heart with nafs and dunya, and should only be used as a last resort, such as when travelling and one cannot take food from home, or for business meetings, or when relatives are having a “function,” or one’s wife is exhausted or fed-up and needs a break from cooking, or guests arrive unexpectedly and no food has been prepared—or similar unpremeditated cases that are not for the food or mere socializing. When forced by such circumstances, it is sufficient that the food be halal, and that one say “Bismi Llah” over it.

Otherwise, when one sees tariqa members, even long-term, eating by preference at restaurants, one should pray for them, because they just don’t get it. Food prepared in forgetfulness of Allah causes forgetfulness of Allah. How many a murid has stumbled because of food, not knowing what hit him. How many a murid has stayed the same for years because he ignored the basics. There is such a thing as baraka in food. Everyone knows that unslaughtered meat is haram to eat, but one should realize how little baraka there is in even slaughtered meat when the animals have been raised in misery and suffering, or when it was cooked by those of low and vile character. One should be aware of what one is doing to oneself. At a merely physical level, fried foods and salty foods angry up the blood.
The Relation of the Forty Grand to Future Muraqaba Lessons

While engaged in any lesson from Lesson One through Lesson Six, if one vitiates the Forty Grand during the lesson, for example by missing any prayer that is fard or wajib (the latter meaning the witr of Hanafis) or exceeding the bounds of anger, this immediately vitiates the lesson that one is on. In such a case, one must return to repeat the Forty Grand—while at the same time praying salat al-tawba for any of the seven sins that happen during the Forty—after which one begins again the lesson that one was on when one vitiated the Forty Grand. If one were working on Lesson Three, for example, and one vitiated the Forty Grand, one would have to go back and repeat the Forty Grand and then start Lesson Three over again from the first day of Lesson Three. The reverse, however, is not true: vitiating the lesson that one is on, for example, by spoiling Lesson One with one of the seven things, does not vitiate the Forty Grand, but only necessitates going back to the first day of Lesson One. To say it again, vitiating the Forty Grand during any lesson necessitates repeating the Forty Grand and then starting that particular lesson over again, but vitiating a lesson does not necessitate repeating the Forty Grand.

introducing Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Habib Umar bin Hafiz is a descendant of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, through his grandson Imam Hussain, may God be pleased with him. He was born in Tarim, Hadramaut in Yemen, and raised in a household that possessed a tradition and lineage of Islamic scholarship and righteousness, his father being the famous martyr, scholar, and caller to Islam Al-Habib Muhammad bin Salim.

Having memorized the Qur’an at a very early age, Habib Umar also memorized the core texts in fiqh, hadith, Arabic Language, and other religious sciences. He studied many sciences including spirituality from his father Al-Habib Muhammad bin Salim, acquiring from him a deep love and concern for da‘wah and religious counsels in the way of Allah. He attended numerous circles of knowledge held by many traditional scholars, such as Muhammad bin Alawi bin Shihab and al-Shaikh Fadl Baa Fadl. Later, he enrolled at the Ribat of al-Bayda’, where he began to study the traditional sciences under the expert tutelage of Al-Habib Muhammad bin Abd-Allah al-Haddar, as well as under the Shafi‘i jurist and scholar Al-Habib Zain bin Sumait. Habib Umar was given permission to teach soon after.

Afterwards, he began to visit many neighboring towns and communities across Yemen and studied with the mufti of Ta‘iz, al-Habib Ibrahim bin Aqil bin Yahya, who began to show him much love and attention. He received similar treatment from his Shaikh al-Habib Muhammad al-Haddar, who gave him his daughter’s hand in marriage after being impressed by his uprightness and intelligence. Al-Habib Umar then traveled to the Hijaz and studied several books with prominent scholars, including Al-Habib Abdul Qadir bin Ahmad al-Saqqaf, Al-Habib Ahmed Mashur al-Haddad, and Al-Habib Attas al-Habashi.

Wherever Habib Umar has gone, no stone has been left unturned in his attempt to revive the love of God and His Messenger, peace and blessing be upon him, in the hearts of people. After returning to Tarim, he established Dar al-Mustafa, an educational institute to which students from across the world have come to study. Habib Umar currently lives in Tarim, where he oversees the development of Dar al-Mustafa and the many schools that have been set up under his management

Introducing Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse

Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse (1900-1975) was one of West Africa's most renowned Islamic scholar in the twentieth century. His followers numbered in the millions and comprised the largest single Muslim movement in West Africa. He was also well-known among the ulama and leaders of the broader Muslim world and a member of such organizations as the Muslim World League (Rabitat al-‘Alam al-Islami based in Saudi Arabia, of which he served as Vice President), the World Muslim Congress (Mutamar al-‘Alam al-Islami; Karachi, Pakistan), the Islamic Research Assembly (Majma’ al-Buhuth al-Islamiyya; Egypt) and the High Council of Islamic Affairs (Majlis al-‘Ala li al-Shu’un al-Islamiyya; Egypt). Following a trip to Cairo, Egypt, in 1961, he became widely known as “Shaykh al-Islam” after having led the Friday prayers in the prestigious Azhar mosque

Standing with a Knower

(L)Shaykh Abdul Kareem Yahyaa (R)Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Shaykh Abdul Kareem Yahyaa: "...There is a story to this picture. I am physically larger than sayyidi Habib Umar, but in this picture (and even more in the video) he looks larger than me. One of the miracles of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is that he would appear taller than two tall men who flanked him, even though he was of moderate height (peace be upon him). It occurred to me that at this event Habib Umar was following this sunna, but I did not get a chance to ask him. However on the UK tour a brother was reading Tirmidhi's Shama'il with Habib and when he read the section on the Prophet's height (peace be upon him) Habib Umar commented and said that this occurs for some of the knowers of Allah, answering - as he often does - the question that occurred to me the student.
That was a good event, there was so much light that i could not distinguish the features of some of the audience..."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What is the Qur'an?

The Qur’an (Arabic: القرآن‎“the recitation”) is the central religious text of Islam. Muslims believe the Qur’an to be the book of divine guidance and direction for mankind, and consider the original Arabic text to be the final revelation of God.

The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the angel Jibrīl (Gabriel) over a period of approximately twenty-three years, beginning in 610 CE, when he was forty, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death.Muslims regard the Qur’an as the main miracle of the Prophet Muhammad, as proof of his prophethood,and as the culmination of a series of divine messages. These started, according to Islamic belief, with the messages revealed to Adam, regarded in Islam as the first prophet, and continued with the Suhuf Ibrahim (Scrolls of Abraham), the Tawrat (Torah or Pentateuch),the Zabur (Tehillim or Book of Psalms),and the Injeel (Gospel).The Qur'an assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in Jewish and Christian scriptures, summarizing some, dwelling at length on others, and, in some cases, presenting alternative accounts and interpretations of events.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Introducing Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad was widely acknowledged as among the leading scholars and spiritual masters of the twentieth century. He was born in a town in Hadramawt, in southern Arabia. At an early age he committed the Quran to memory and spent most of his time in the relentless pursuit of the various branches of religious knowledge. He dedicated his life to teaching and spreading the word of Islam. He died in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1997. Shaykh al-Haddad, religious counsellor to ministers and paupers alike, was a rare living embodiment of traditional styles of da’wa. He was a founder member of the Muslim World League, but never accepted money for his services to Islam. Running a small business in East Africa, he lived to obey Allah’s injunction to bring Islam to all people. One week he would almost be eaten by crocodiles during a mission to the Pygmies of Western Uganda; the next he would be using his fluent Swahili to defeat the Ahmadiyya cult in a vast public debate in Kampala. Not a second of his life was wasted: his annual Hajj, his regular teaching of Shafi’i fiqh at the houses of friends in Jeddah, his support for new madrasas, his Mawlids in Mombasa mosques which caused the conversion of so many: every moment was filled with the remembrace of Allah, and the quest for still greater learning. Even in advanced old age, weighed down by illness and deeply distressed by the war in Bosnia, he insisted that his house remain open seven days a week, every day of the year, for those who wished to sit with him, and absorb some of his learning and the subtle blessings of his company. And when his guests left each evening, he would rest only briefly, before beginning his long nightly vigil of Qur’anic recitation and tahajjud. Having travelled with him, I know that he rarely rested for more than two hours a night.

Shaykh al-Haddad was distressed by even slight variations from the Sunna. His house and household, his wives and great grandsons, all lived in the radiance which only the full Sunna can bestow. Part of this, for him was his dislike of any criticism of other Muslims, whatever their tendency, or however grievous their faults. Anyone voicing such criticism would be discouraged in his gatherings from continuing to speak. The reputation of all Muslims, as one of his favourite hadiths affirms is sacred and inviolable. It is estimated he administered between 20-30,000 shahadas.

A chance meeting with Shaykh Muhammad al Yaqoubi(Photo and quote courtesy of Faeza Moghul w/ permission)

"In a meeting with Shaykh Muhammad.

As we were about to leave, I fumbled around in bag. I was really nervous but I couldn't help myself. As I pulled out my camera, I had to ask him if I could take a picture . . .

His response:

"Of me . . . ? Well, I'm not really that fond of having my picture taking but okay."

. . . and then he started making dhikr.

Introducing As-Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki

The Sayyid is a descendent of the prophet Muhammad (Blessings and Salutations of peace upon Him) through Imam Hasan, a grand-son of the prophet. He is a contemporary Saudi Arabian scholar of Tafseer (interpretation of the Qur’an), Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet), Fiqh (Islamic law), `Aqeedah (tenets of faith) and Seerah (Prophetic biography). He is the most highly acclaimed and respected scholar (Shaykh) in Makkah (Mecca). He was born to a family of traditional Maliki scholars of ancestral residence in the Holy City. His grandfather was the Qadi (Chief Judge) of Makkah and an Imam of the Holy Mosque, the site of the Ka’bah.

His father Sayyid Alawi taught and lectured in the precints of the Holy Mosque for 30 years until he passed away in 1971, his funeral being the biggest one in the area in the present era. Sayyid Muhammad was educated by his eminent father from childhood and was authorised to teach every book he studied with him. He also learnt at the feet of prominent scholars of Makkah such as Shaykh Say-yid Ameen Kutbi, Shaykh Hassan Masshat, Shaykh Muhammad Nur Sayf, Shaykh Saeed Yamani and many others.

At the age of 25 he received his Phd from from the esteemed Al Azhar university of Egypt. His thesis - on Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet) - was rated excellent and highly praised by the ‘ulama (learned elders) there at the time such as Imam Abu Zahra. During his never-ending quest for knowledge he has travelled extensively to north Africa, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Yemen and the Indo-Pak sub-continent to gather Hadith, collect manuscripts, visit scholars, saints and benefit from their wisdom.

Apart from the ‘ulama of the Hijaz (Arabian Peninsula) he has got "Sanad" or "‘Ijazah" (lineage of authority to teach and guide) in the theological and spiritual sciences from eminent savants all over the Islamic world. The great Da’ee (spreader of the religion) and Imam of Yemen, Imam Habib Ahmad Mashur al-Haddad , Shaykh Hasnayn Makhluf the great Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh al Ghimari of Morrocco , Shaykh Diauddin Qadiri of Madinah and numerous others have given him their ‘ijazah.

In 1970 he was appointed professor of Islamic studies at the Umm-ul-Qurra university in Makkah. In 1971, after his father’s death, the scholars of Makkah asked him to accept his father’s position as a teacher in the Holy Mosque, which he did. Hundreds of students have learnt at his feet and have become savants of Islamic knowledge and spirituality in their countries, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Yemen and Dubai. Since 1983 he has concentrated on research and teaching . He also gives classes at his home and mosque on al Maliki street in the Rusayfa district of Makkah. He is highly respected by the Saudi government and was nominated head judge at the international Qira’at (Qur’anic reading) competition in Makkah three times. He is also the author of close to one hundred books.
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Introducing Shaykh Ibrahim al Yaqoubi

He is the most learned scholar of the inward and outward:Ibrahim bin Isma'el bin Muhammad Siddiq bin Muhammad Hasan al-Yaqubi al-Hasani al-Jazairi, then al-Dimashqi. The origin of his family returns back to the Algeria.

His great grandfather Sh. Muhammad al-Hasan migrated with his family as part of the famously known 'Migration of the Scholars' (Hijrah al-Mashaikh) during the middle of the thirteenth Islamic century, along with Sh. Muhammad al-Mahdi al-Saklawi and Sh. Muhammad al-Mubarak al-Kabir. His grandfather reached Damascus in the year 1263 Hijri.

Early Life and Seeking of Knowledge

Sh. Ibrahim was born in Damascus on the night of Eid al-Adha in the year 1343 Hijri and was raised under the supervision of his father who taught him whilst he was still young the fundamentals of Aqidah and the Quran in the recitation of Warsh.

He began the study of various sciences firstly in the 'Maktab' of Sh. Mustafa al-Jazairi, then he was moved after some months by his father to the 'Maktab' of Sh. Muhammad Ali al-Hijazi al-Kaylani where he remained for around six years the duration of which he memorized most of the Quran.

He studied with the spiritual guide Sh. Muhammad al-Hashimi, the Sheikh of the Shadhili order, who resided nearby to the home of Sh. Ibrahims father. Sh. Ibrahim would accompany Sh. al-Hashimi to the Jami al-Baridi, Jami Nur al-Dinal-Shahid and the Madrassa al-Shamiyah wherein would take place circles of dhikr and learning. He memorized with him during this time 'Nadhm Aqidah Ahl al-Sunnah' and a portion of 'Diwan al-Mustaghnami'. He studied with him the 'Sharh al-Risalah' of al-Sharnubi and al-Zarqani, and 'Bulghah al-Salik' in Maliki fiqh, 'Sharh Nadhm Aqidah Ahl al-Sunnah', 'Miftah al-Jannah' and 'Risalah al-Qushayriyyah' which took place at private lessons in his home.

He studied with him in the Umayyad mosque and other places the commentary of 'Ibn Ashir'
by Sh. Muhammad bin Yusuf al-Kafi called 'Al-Murshid al-Mueen', 'Tafsir Ibn Ajibah', 'Sharh al-Hikam' of Ibn Ajibah, 'Sharh al-Bayquniyyah' of al-Zarqani, 'Awarif al-Maarif' of al-Suhrawardi, 'Nawadir al-Usul', 'Al-Futuhat al-Makkiyah', 'Al-Hikam al-Ataiyah' and the two Sahihs.

He was granted a general ijazah by him on the 24th of Shawwal 1379 Hijri in the rational and transmitted sciences, aswell as the litanies of the Shadhili order.

He attended with his father whilst young the lessons of the Muhaddith Sh. Muhammad Badr al-Din al-Hasani, aswell as regularly visiting and benefitting from the lessons of his uncle Sh. Muhammad al-Sharif al-Yaqubi, whose public lessons he attended in the prayer niche (mihrab) of the Maliki's in the Umayyad mosque and his home.

He also studied with his uncle Sh. Muhammad al-Arabi al-Yaqubi in the prayer niche of the Malikis in the Umayyad mosque.

He studied the fourth volume of the work 'Al-Durus al-Nahwiyah' of Hisni Nasif with Sh. Muhammad Ali al-Qattan and kept the company of Sh. Hussein al-Baghjati from whom he benefitted from in the sciences of calligraphy, recitation (tajwid) and Prophetic biography (sirah).

He attended during this period of time the public lessons which would take place in the Sinaniyyah mosque by Sh. Ali al-Daqr, Sh. Hashim al-Khatib, Sh. Muhammad Shakir al-Misri better known as al-Himsi, Sh. Abd al-Majid al-Tarabishi with whom he studied 'Multaqa al Abhur' and 'Maraqi al-Falah'. He studied with Sh. Abd al-Hamid al-Qabuni 'Hidayah al-Mustafid' and the text of 'Ghayah wa al-Taqrib'.

He also studied with Sh. Abd al-Qadir al-Iskandari and Sh. Muhammad Barakat.
His father Sh. Ismail was his first spiritual guide and the most important of his teachers during his life. He took from the Shadhili path and benefitted from his instructions and training. He likewise took from him the Qadiri and Khalwati orders aswell, and was authorised in a number of them by him.

He benefitted from the lessons of Sh. Muhammad al-Makki al-Kattani, he studied with him in his home. He read with him the 'Al-Arbain al-Ajluniyyah', the 'Sharh al-Bukhari' of al-Qastallani, 'Lataif al-Minan' and 'Ruh al-Quds'. He took from him the Shadhili Qadiri path. He also narrated from him the pattern chained narrations (musalsal) of mercy (rahmah), interlacing fingers, shaking hands and the hadith of Muadh Ibn Jabal. He was granted a lengthy ijazah by him in his handwriting in on the 24th of Shaban 1378.

He took from Sh. Muhammad al-Arabi al-Azuzi in Damascus when he came from Beirut, and
hosted him a number of times. He read with him the 'Al-Arabin al-Ajluniyyah' in one sitting, a number of treatise on some sciences of tasawwuf and was granted a general ijazah by him dated the 8th of Shawwal 1381.
He attended the lessons of Sh. Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Yallas al-Tilmisani at his home. He read with him 'Subul al-Salam Sharh Bulugh al-Maram', 'Sharh al-Hikam' of Ibn Ajibah, 'Taysir al-Wusul ila Jami al-Usul', 'Hashiyah al-Arusi ala Sharh al-Risalah al-Qushayriyyah, 'Sunan Ibn Majah', 'Idah al-Maqsud fi Mana Wahdah al-Wujud' of Sh. Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi. He likewise attended the lessons which would take place in peoples homes in which he read 'Dalil al-Falihin' and 'Al-Futuhat al-Rabbaniyyah'. He attended in his Zawiyah al-Samadiyah many of his circles of dhikr, and studied the 'Hashiyah al-Bajuri' on the Shamail of al-Tirmidhi and 'Ghaliyah al-Mawaiz'. From him he took the Shadhili way and was granted an ijazah verbally.

He studied with Sh. Muhammad Salih al-Farfur 'Tafsir al-Nasafi' from the beginning up to Yasin. 'Sharh Ibn Aqil' on the Alfiyyah of Ibn Malik, 'Sharh al-Manar' of Ibn Malik, 'Sharh al-Sirajiyyah', 'Jawahir al-Balaghah', 'Asrar al-Balaghah', 'Al-Kamil' of al-Mubrad, 'Tadrib al-Rawi', 'Risalah al-Qushayriyyah' and attended his morning lessons on the 'Hashiyah Ibn Abidin', 'Sahih al-Tirmidhi', 'Al-Minan al-Kubra', 'Sharh al-Hikam' of Ibn Ajibah, 'Al-Yawaqit wal-Jawahir' and around 8 volumes from 'Umdah al-Qari' of al-Aini. In addition he attended his evening lessons on 'Sharh al-Qutb al-Razi ala al-Shamsiyyah' on logic (mantiq) by Najm al-Din al-Katibi, 'Hashiyah al-Adawi ala Khulasah al-Hisab' of al-Amili, 'Hashiyah al-Bajuri ala al-Jawharah' a number of times, 'Sharh al-Musayarah' of Ibn Abi Sharif. He attended after after the Asr prayer in his home the 'Tafsir al-Kashaf' of al-Zamakhshari and 'Dalail al-Ijaz' and was granted a written ijazah by him.

He studied with Sh. Abd al-Wahab al-Hafidh better known as Dibs Wazit the text 'Multaqa al-Abhur' in the Umayyad mosque, and attended his public lessons in the month of Ramadan. He sought an ijazah from him and was authorised with one verbally a number of times and promised a written one, but passed away before he could write it. Sh. Abd al-Wahab would say: If you wish to ask regarding a ruling in the hanafi madhab and do not find me, then ask Sh. Ibrahim al-Yaqubi in the prayer niche (mihrab) of the Malikis in the Jami al-Umawi'.

He visited Sh. Ahmad al-Harun a number of times, was given ijazah in his specific litanies.

He attended some of Sh. Muhammad Saeed al-Burhani's lessons in the Umayyad mosque for the books 'Al-Minan al-Kubra' and 'Al-Warif wal Maarif' and took the the Shadhili path from him, and there was between both of them a close relationship.

He attended some of Sh. Muhammad Abi al-Khair al-Maydanis lessons in Dar al-Hadith for the book 'Sharh al-Mawahib al-Laduniyyah' of al-Zarqani, and heard from him the hadith of mercy, and took the Naqshbandi path from him. He read to him the beginning of 'Al-Jami al-Saghir' of al-Suyuti and was given a general ijazah by him and was promised a written one.

He studied with Sh. Nuh al-Albani at him home the 'Risalah al-Sibt al-Mardini fi Amal bi al-Rub al-Mujib'.

He read to the Quran recitor Sh. Muhammad Sadiq Alwan the whole Quran, and read the 'Sharh al-Jazariyyah' and 'Manar al-Huda' of al-Ashmuni to him.

He studied with Sh. Muhammad Abi Yusr Abidin in a private gathering some of the treatise of Ibn Abidin and who said: My successor in fiqh and usul is Sh. Ibrahim al-Yaqubi.

He obtained numerous ijazahs other than the ones mentioned, amongst them being the ijazah from Sh. Abd al-Karim al-Saqli, Sh. Zayn al-Abidin al-Tunisi and Sh. Ali al-Boudilimi.


He memorized a large number of texts, their sum total exceeding 25,000 lines of poetry. He would cite much of them during his lessons, such as the 'Al-Kafiyah al-Shafiyah' of Ibn Malik and his 'Al-Alfiyyah'. Likewise 'Ghayah al-Maani' of al-Baytushi, 'Nadhm Mughni al-Labib', 'Lamiyah al-Afal', 'Muthalathath Qatrab', 'Nadhm Mukhtasar al-Manar', Al-Kawakabiyah' in Usul, 'Maunah al-Rahman' in Hanafi fiqh, 'Matn Ibn Ashir', 'Tuhfah al-Hukkam' better known as 'Al-Asimiyyah' in Maliki fiqh.

He memorized 'Matn al-Zubad', 'Nadhm Matn Ghayah wal-Taqrib' in Shafi fiqh.

He memorized 'Al-Jawharah', 'Al-Shaybaniyyah' and 'Bad al-Amali' in Tawhid.

In hadith terminology he memorized 'Al-Bayquniyyah', 'Nadhm Nukhbah al-Fikr' and close to half of al-Iraqi's 'Al-Alfiyyah'.

In Balaghah he memorized 'Al-Jawhar al-Maknun' of al-Akhdari and in logic (mantiq) 'Al-Sullam', 'Nadhm al-Shamsiyah' and 'Nadh Adaab al-Bahth' of al-Marsafi.

In inhertiance law he memorized 'Al-Rahabiyyah' and 'Lamiyyah al-Jabari', and in recitation (tajwid) 'Al-Jazariyyah' and 'Tuhfah al-Atfal'.

In literature he memorized the 'Diwan al-Hamasah' and portions of 'Al-Mufadalliyat', 'Al-Muallaqat al-Ashr' and many of the well known odes (qasaid).

From the texts written as prose he memorized 'Al-Risalah'and 'Matn al-Khalil' in Maliki fiqh. In grammar 'Qatar al-Nada' and 'Shudhur al-Dhahab'. Likewise 'Al-Sanusiyyah', 'Matn Nur al-Idah', 'Al-Manar', 'Aqidah al-Sheikh Arsalan' and 'Al-Hikam al-Ataiyyah'.


He began teaching before reaching the age of 20 in the Jami al-Sinan Pasha. And was appointed as a teacher in the Jami Darwish Pasha in the year 1376 Hijri. Before this in 1373 he was appointed Imam in Jami al-Zaytuna and then the Jami al-Baridi and then the Umayyad mosque in the prayer niche (mihrab) of the Malikis and then the Hanafis, until the year 1390 Hijri.

He was appointed a teacher linked to the fatwa administration in the year 1378 Hijri.

He taught in the Jami al-Uthman, Shariah Secondary school, Mahad Fath al-Islami, Mahad Isaf Tullab Ulum al-Shariyyah, Madrassa al-Ghazali lil Ahdath and Madrassa Sijn Qilah Dimashq.

He performed the obligatory Hajj in the year 1392 via the land route, and this was his only Hajj.


He left behind a number of works, amongst them being:
-Qabs Min Siyar al-Nabawiyyah
-Al-Jami li Shawahid Ulum al-Arabiyyah (not complete)
-Al-Nur al-Faaid fi Ulum al-Mirath wal-Faraid
-Miyar al-Afkar wa Mizan al-Uqul wal-Anzar on logic (mantiq)
-Risalah al-Faraid al-Hisan fi Aqaid al-Iman
-Al-Kawkab al-Wada fi Aqidah Ahl al-Sunnah al-Gharra (poem)
-A commentary of Bulugh al-Maram (not completed)
-A poem on Adab al-Bahth wal-Munazarah
-On the issue of organ transplant the work: Shifa al-Tabarih wal-Adwa fi Hukm al-Tashrih
Naql al-Ada
-His collection of chains of transmission (thabat) called Al-Tadhkirah
-Lectures on Islamic character called: Taqwim al-Nafs
-Qalaid al-Faraid on literature
-Lessons he dictated on tafsir in Jami al-Uthman called: Al-Muhadarat fi Tafsir al-Quran
-Mujam al-Shuyukh wal-Aqran
-A text on belief which he authored for students of the shariah secondary school in Damascus which he also taught them called: Al-Aqidah al-Islamiyyah
-A versified version of Nur al-Idah (not complete) in hanafi fiqh
-An abridgement of Sunan Ibn Majah
-Diwan Shi'r

He left behind a number of treatise on the sciences of: Balaghah, al-urud, al-Wad', Ilghaz and Usul al-Fiqh. He also has notes on a number of works.

Critical Editions

He edited a number of manuscripts, amongst them being:

-Qawaid al-Tasawwuf of Sh. Ahmad Zarruq
-Al-Hikam al-Ataiyyah which was published fpr the first time in in 1384
-Al-Anwar fi Shamail al-Nabi al-Mukhtar of al-Baghawi
-Al-Muntakhab fi Usul al-Madhab by al-Akhsekti
-Badi al-Nadham fi Usul al-Fiqh of Ibn Saati (not complete)
-Hadiyyah Ibn Imad fi Ahkam al-Salah
-Al-Haiyah al-Sanniyah fo al-Haiyyah al-Sunniyah of al-Suyuti
-Al-Fath al-Rahmani fi Fatawa al-Sayyid Thabit Abi al-Maani (second volume).

Sh. Ibrahim al-Yaqubi was an expert in a number of the Islamic sciences, and firmly grounded in both the Hanafi and Maliki schools, both of which he taught. It is said that he had memorized the 'Hashiyah Ibn Abidin'.

His lessons on Usul where those of a Mujtahid due to his vast knowledge the principles of the madhahib and their evidences. He taught 'Al-Talwih' a number of times, and 'Hawashi al-Mirat' in Usul, also 'Al-Muwafiqat' of al-Shatibi a number fo times and the 'Mustasfa' of al-Ghazali amongst other works.

His expertise in the Arabic language was evident from his teaching of 'Mughni al-Labib' of Ibn Hisham a number of times, likewise 'Sharh al-Rida ala al-Kafiyah' of Ibn al-Hajib and the commentaries of 'Al-Alfiyah and the 'Kitab al-Sibaway'.
Sh. Ibrahim also taught logic and philosophy, he taught 'Shuruh al-Shamsiyah', 'Sharh al-Tahdhib', 'Al-Basair al-Nasiriyah', 'Sharh al-Maqawulat', 'Sharh al-Isharat' of al-Tusi, 'Shuruh al-Sullam' of al-Isaghawji.

Personal Traits

He possessed an illuminating face which attracted people towards him. The humility of the scholars was evident on him, he was softly spoken and would not distinguish himself from others. He would pay his full attention to those who visited him, they would enjoy his conversation and he would not tire of them nor their questions. He would answer them clearly and in detail in the manner of a precise learned scholar. Despite this he loved solitude, he said: If it was not for knowledge and seeking it I would not have met any of the people'. Also saying that the most beloved moments to him were in a lesson where he would taste the enjoyment of the knowledge and time spent in the rememberance of Allah.

He did not seek fame nor did desire to gain it, and did not teach for worldly gain. If he taught and gave a sermon would do so seeking the pleasure of is Lord. He lived a life full of modesty and suffered hardship as he had made it all an endowment to knowledge and serving others.

He bore with patience the personal difficulties he experienced and was content with that which Allah had apportioned for him. One of his young sons died on the morning of a lesson which had been arranged in his home. He welcomed the students, taught them the lesson from 'Al-Risalah al-Qushayriyyah' as was his habit and treated them as a guest should be treated. When he finished the lesson he informed them of the death of his son.

He would make much rememberance of Allah in solitude and would busy himself in spiritual retreats. He would guide and train those around him with his state and actions. To him real tasawwuf was not empty words and hollow zikr, therefore he would say: Tasawwuf is acting on knowledge, Tasawwuf is good character (akhlaq), whomsoever surpasses you in akhlaq has surpassed you in tasawwuf...

He would speak for a number of hours in a clear precise manner. His way of explaining was such that he would take the most complex of issues and would present them in way which they were clearly understood, this is why his lessons were beloved to people.

He kept up to date with current schools of thought and matters which were of concern to those in the Muslim world. He would not discuss any school of thought without first studying it. He studied the Torah and Bible, the discussions and books authored in critique of other religions. He would keep up to date with the publishing of new books and new ideas.

His teachers with whom he studied honoured, loved and respected him. And would ask his view on difficult matters.

Passing Away

Sh. Ibrahim had informed his family of his death 6 months before his passing away, and he then informed them again 3 days before his death that he would be meeting his Lord on the night before the day of Jumah. He instructed them to pray over him on the Asr of Friday and asked to be buried next to his mother, and that they not do anything against the sunnah nor anything unlawful during the preparation and performance of his funeral and burial. He also asked his debts to be paid and the trusts left with him to be returned to their owners.
Sh. Ibrahim al-Yaqubi passed away on the night before the day of Jumah on the 26th of Rabi al-Awwal in the year 1406 Hijri. His eldest son Sh. Muhammad Abu al-Huda lead his funeral prayer in the grand Umayyad mosque. A large funeral procession followed respectfully to the cemetery of Bab al-Saghir where he was lowered in to his grave by his student Dr Muhammad Abd al-Latif Farfur.
A few weeks after his passing away a gathering was held in rememberance of him in the Jami al-Uthman in Damascus which was attended by numerous people of knowledge from cities all over Syria.
May Allah (the Exalted) have mercy on Sh. Ibrahim al-Yaqubi, all the scholars mentioned in this article, Sh. Ibrahims students and all of the Muslims.

Introducing Sayyid Shaykh Muhammad Makki al-Kettani

Al-Sayyid al-Sheikh
Muhammad al-Makki al-Kettani al-Hasani al-Idrisi
(b. 1312 in Fas - d. 1393 in Damascus)
He was born in the city of Fas in 1312, and took from its `ulema. In 1325 and 1328, he travelled to al-Medina al-Munawwara with his father, and drew knowledge from its `ulema. In 1336, his family moved to Damascus and settled there. Apart from the classes of his father, he attended classes by the elite of the Damascene scholars, such as Sheikh Badr al-Din ibn Yusuf al-Hasani, Muhammad Amin Suwid, Muhammad Tawfiq al-Ayyubi and others.

In 1341, he accompanied his father and brother [Muhammad al-Zamzami 1305-1371] to Turkey, upon the inivitation of the muhjahid Ahmad al-Sharif al-Sanusi, and he was given a condecoration by the Othoman Dawla for his support of the Libyan jihad.

In 1343, he visited Hind together with his older brother Sheikh Muhammad al-Zamzami, on a mission of da`wa and seeking knowledge, and they passed through Iraq on their way.

In 1345, he returned with his father to Fas, but after less than a year he came back to Dimashq. and remained there for the rest of his life.

In 1353, he visited Hind for the second time, in the company of his brother, Sheikh Muhammad al-Zamzani. They visited many Islamic learing centers, in particular the University of Deoband, where he met the Imam of Hind, Sheikh Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri, and took from him. He stayed there for some time working as a da`i, murabbi and murshid. His life was devoted to the seeking and spreading of the diverse disciplines of the sacred knowledge, such as hadith, fiqh, tawhid and tasawwuf. His home in the neighbourhood of al-`Amara in Damascus was a center for sufi devotions and raising murids. He also taught in the Umawi mosque and in Jami` Mazi and the Takiyya Sulmaniyya, as well as other places inside and outside the city. Thereafter he was assigned the office of Mufti of the Maliki madhhab in Syria.

He was utterly concerned about the Islamic government and fighting the colonizers in all ways. He established in Dimashq the "Association of the black hand" (Jam`iyya al-kaff al-aswad), and selected for it forty of the wisest grand Shuyukh of Syria and defenders of the islamic law, to give support to the mujahidin against the French colonizers in Algeria and Maghrib, against the Brittish in Pastine, and the Italians in Lybia. He gathered young men from the neighbourhoods of Damascus, and trained them in horse-riding and handling of weapons. preparing them for jihad against the French. He thus rose about 500 horse-riders, who were known as the "Leage of young men of Damascus" (Rabita shabban Dimashq).

In 1365 (1944/5) he founded the "Leage of `Ulema of Syria" (Rabita Ulama' Suriya), and directed its affairs so as to make a united front against the colonizers and their helpers. They gained a complete victory in the election to the (national) assembly of representatives, which was filled with candidates from the Leage of `Ulema. He also founded the "Association for the liberation of Arabic Maghrib" (later renamed "Association for support and liberation of Maghrib" - Jam`iyya Ansar Maghrib wa tahririhi), supporting the Algerian Mujahidin, and he selected individuals for it, most of which assumed important offices in the Algerian government after its independence. This organisation also supported the the Algerian jihad by selling weapons to them, to the extent that the Algerians later said "this was the cause of our victory."

In 1376, the League of `Ulama held a two days conference to investigate the French massacres in Algeria, and came up with a statment that was printed in the Magazine "Islamic Civilization" (Al-Tamuddun al-Islami). It was also the first to call for the formation of the "Leage of Islamic `Ulama", and to take contcrete steps towards its establishment.

Imam al-Kettani represented both Maghrib and Syria i various conferences, such as the first Islamic Conference in al-Quds al-Sharif, which he founded together with th Mufti of Quds, al-Hajj Amin Imam al-Kettani often visited the Sa`udi Arabian Kingdom, and upheld good relations with its kings: `Abd al-`Aziz, Sa`ud, Faysal, and he kept on giving them advice.

He also kept up relations with the Egyptian president Jamal `Abd al-Nasir, which led to the formation of the United Arab Republic, which thereafter disintegrated because of the Egyptian president's failure to enact Islam.

In 1382 (1962) Imam al-Kettani visited Maghrib upon an official invitation by His Majesty King Hasan II. The King gave a speech in which he mentioned his popularity in Sham and made him the reason for which Sham was looked up to, and invited him to come back to Maghrib. When he visited the city of Sus, all its `Ulema asked for his ijaza in the science of hadith narrators and isnad.... Read More

In 1383, he supervised the National Pact which joined together all Islamic Parties and movements in Syria, and he laid down a new curriulum in the field of sciences which guaranteed the presence of Islam in the country.

Al-Sheikh al-Makki al-Kettani was a unique personality of his time. His erudition in the Islamic sciences was inherited from his father Imam Muhammad ibn Ja`ar and other great `ulema of the East, especially in the field of usul (theology). In addition to this he was a great sufi, murshid and murabbi, known amonst th epeople of Sham as a Qutb and Ghawth. He moved from place to place calling people to Allah subhanaHu wa ta`ala, without fearing anyone or anything on this path. Most Sufi Sheikhs in Syria have taken from him. al-Husayni. The latter took the name of the Syrian resistance movement against the French, "al-Kaff al-Aswad", founded by Imam al-Kettani, and named the Palestinian fadaiyyya movement after it.

In 1376 (1955 CE), he participated in the popular uprising, together with his fellow `ulema, with arms in hand. He also took an active part in the struggle of Palestine against the sionists, by sending people, weapons and equipment. After the end of open war, he continued, together with the palestinian leaders, to give the jews sleepless nights, by sending commandos to destroy strategic places such as airports and weapon arsenals.

Introducing al-Hajj Malik Sy

The prodigious scholar and righteous saint al-Hajj Malik Sy (1855-1922) was one of the key figures for the renewal of Islam and spread of the Tariqa Tijaniyya in Senegal in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Along with contemporaries Ahmadu Bamba and al-Hajj Abdoulaye Niasse, al-Hajj Malik played an important role in preserving and adapting the transmission of the traditional Islamic sciences in Senegal in the aftermath of French conquest. His followers are today found mostly in northern Senegal, although important communities exist from the Gambia to the Futa region of southern Mauritania.

Al-Hajj Malik was born in Gaya, in northern Senegal, of mixed Fulani and Wolof ancestry. His father was Ousmane Sy, but his most significant early teacher seems to have been his maternal uncle Mayoro Wale, from whom he took the Tijani wird at the age of eighteen. Mayoro was himself an accomplished Tijani scholar, having received initiation at the hands of Shaykh Mawlud Fal and later from al-Hajj Umar al-Futi Tal. After memorizing the Qur’an and completing his early education, al-Hajj Malik traveled throughout Senegal studying with some of the most prominent scholars of his time. He spent a short time studying in Trarza, Mauritania, where he renewed his Tariqa affiliation under Muhammad Ali who was closely associated with the legacy of Muhammad al-Hafiz al-Shinqiti and the influential Idaw Ali shurafa’ of Mauritania.

He accomplished the Hajj in 1889, passing en route to Mecca through Marseille, Alexandria and Jeddah. Upon his return, he opened schools in Saint Louis, Dakar and in Marné before settling permanently in Tivaouane in 1902. There his zawiya attained great renown as one of the premier centers of Islamic scholarship in the Senegambia. Al-Hajj Malik trained an elite cadre of Islamic intellectuals in the entirety of the Islamic sciences, before sending them throughout Senegal to teach others.

Al-Hajj Malik maintained active relations with the important branches of the Tijaniyya of his day, including the Tijani scholars of Fes and those of Ain Maadi, Algeria; both of which he remained in correspondence through letters. He also married his daughter Khadia to Saidou Nourou Tal, the grandson of al-Hajj Umar Tal and whom the French had named the “Grand Marabout” of West Africa. His relations with al-Hajj Abdoulaye Niasse were particularly close. Al-Hajj Abdoulaye visited al-Hajj Malik in Tivaouane when returning from one of his trips from Fes, and it was through him that al-Hajj Malik received the coveted ijaza mutlaqa from Shaykh Ahmad Sukayrij of Marakesh.

Many of his poems in praise of the Prophet have attained great renown and are still recited by his followers, especially during the Mawlid season. Some twenty of his Arabic works were published, most of them in Tunis. Aside from poetry, his writings included treatises on theology, law, Sufism and biography of the Prophet Muhammad.

Since the death of al-Hajj Malik, the Tivaouane zawiya has been headed by Abu Bakr Sy (d. 1957), Abd al-Aziz Sy (1957-1997) and Mansour Sy who is the present leader of the Sy family. Shaykh Mansour is usually represented by his official spokesman, Abd al-Aziz Sy. The most prominent representative of the Sy family in America is Shaykh Ahmad Sy, a grandson of al-Hajj Malik who currently lives in Maryland.

Introducing Shaykh Ahmadu Bamba Mbacke.

About Shaykh Ahmadu Bamba Mbacke.

Khadim ar-Rasul (The Servant of the Messenger)
© Sankore’ Institute 2004

Shaykh Ahmadu Bamba Mbacke was a descendant of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) who was born into a pious and scholarly family in 1854 in Senegambia, West Africa. From his infancy people saw signs that he was destined to be a great man of Allah the Exalted, it has been reported that he refused to nurse from his pious mother, Maryama “Jaratu’llah” Bousso, during the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan. He memorized the Koran at an early age and mastered all of the sciences of Islam at the feet of his father, Muhammad ibn Habibu’llah Mbacke, and other great Senegambian scholars of his time. By the time he was fifteen, he had already composed Masalik al-Jannan Fi Jam’i Ma Farraqahu ad-Dayman, a profound and exhaustive poem of approximately 1,600 verses on the science of Tasawwuf in extremely eloquent Classical Arabic. Shaykh Ahmadu was blessed to compose hundreds of other works in Theology, Jurisprudence, Tasawwuf, Education, Praise of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and Arabic Grammar, probably making him the most prolific author throughout both Islamic and World History - producing an astonishing seven tons (that is, fifteen thousand pounds) of original compositions-all in poetry- that are preserved until the present day in the city of Touba, Senegal, which he founded.

The Shaykh is famous for his non-violent yet uncompromising resistance to the French occupation of Senegal and the hundreds of poems he composed praising the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and interceding with him in supplication to Allah, as a result he was favored with the title “Khadim ar-Rasul.”

While his blessed life ended in 1927 his ocean of works and teachings continue to educate, inspire, and most importantly connect Muslims to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

Introducing Shaykh Badr al-Din al-Hasani

Sheikh Badr al-Din al-Hasani
1267-1354 H / 1850-1935 CE

"The greatest muhaddith" - All scholars and shaikhs of Syria accepted him as their teacher, and those living in Damascus used to attend his daily lessons. He had a photographic memory. Knew by heart all the hadiths of Bukhari, Muslim, and the remainder of the six most famous books of Hadith, including the biography of all narrators of all chains of every hadeeth, their dates of birth and decease, and their status of authenticity. Also, he used to explain the Qur'an by heart from al Baydawi's Tafseer (explanation of the Qur'an). His ijazah was especially besought by Hadith scholars for being the closest one of his age to the Prophet(counting the number of men in the chain). Doctors and engineers who attended his classes used to say: We exhausted our life learning our profession, and he knows it more than us. He was also instrumental in the organization of the revolution against the French occupation. At every 'Eid, he would go out, and he would give his students charity from his own pocket, and there were places, particularly in the colonialism era, where there were a lot of women that were impoverished and forced into prostitution to support themselves, and he would tell his student to give those prostitutes charity, and he would say to them, "Tell them that Badruddin Al-Hasani asked you to make du'ah (supplication) for him." And those women would weep when they heard that: "Who are we to make du'ah for Badruddin Al-Hasani?." There were people who repented because of that act.

Prophetic Sandal

The attention given to the noble sandals is not an innovated matter. Rather, the first generations, from the Companions of the Prophet (God bless him and give him peace), were the first to give them attention and importance, such that some of them were known to have distinguished themselves with serving the noble sandals. It has been reported by Ibn Sa`d that Anas (God be well pleased with him) was the keeper of the sandals of the Messenger of God (God bless him and give him peace).

And Imam al-Sālihī reported in his work, Subul al-Huda wa’l Rashād (8:318) that `Abd Allāh ibn Mas`ūd (God be pleased with him) used to get up as soon as the Messenger of Allah (God bless him and give him peace) sat down, and would take off the latter’s sandals, and place them under his own arms. Then, when the Prophet (God bless him and give him peace) would get up, he would put them on him. Many other narrations have been transmitted from the Companions giving exact descriptions of the noble sandals of the Prophet (God bless him and give him peace).
The depiction of the noble Prophetic sandals has had a special place in the hearts of Muslims since it points to one of the needs of their tremendous Prophet (God bless him and give him peace), and since it inspires in them the utmost humility towards his high rank (God bless him and give him peace). Because of this, they took care to record this depiction, and to draw it, and they sometimes even placed it under their turbans, to feel their complete subservience to the tremendousness of this most noble Messenger (God bless him and give him peace). They also hung this depiction in their houses, seeking blessings from it.

Writers and poets wrote eloquently in praise of the noble sandals and in describing the feelings of ecstatic love for their wearer (God bless him and give him peace). Imam Abū al-`Abbās gathered a significant amount of these writing in his aforementioned work, as well as in his treatise Azhār al-Riyād

May the best of blessings and peace be upon the owner of these blessed sandals.

Worship God as if you see Him...

Tasawwuf (Arabic: تصوّف‎), is generally understood to be the inner dimension of Islam.
Classical scholars have defined tasawwuf as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God." Alternatively, in the words of the renowned Darqawi Sufi teacher Ahmad ibn Ajiba, "a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one’s inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits."


e Hajj (Arabic: حج‎) is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. It is currently the largest annual pilgrimage in the world,and is the fifth pillar of Islam, an obligation that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God.[2] The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar used in the Western world, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year. In 2007, the Hajj was from December 17–21; in 2008 from December 6–10, and in 2009 will be November 25–29. Ihram is the name given to the special state in which Muslims live whilst on the pilgrimage.

The Hajj is associated with the life of the Prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham. Pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: Each person walks counter-clockwise seven times about the Ka'bah, the cube-shaped building which acts as the Muslim direction of prayer; kisses the Black Stone in the corner of the Kaaba; runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah; drinks from the Zamzam Well; goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil; and throws stones in a ritual Stoning of the Devil. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three day global festival of Eid al-Adha.


Zakāh (Arabic: زكاة‎ or "alms giving", one of the Five Pillars of Islam, is the giving of a small percentage of one's possessions (surplus wealth) to charity generally to poor and needy individual. It is often compared to the system of tithing and alms, but it serves principally as the welfare contribution to poor and deprived Muslims, although others may have a rightful share. It is the duty of an Islamic community not just to collect zakat but to distribute it fairly as well.

Zakat is sometimes refers as sadaqah and its plural, sadaqat. Generally the Sharing of wealth is called zakat whereas the sadqat could be sharing of wealth as well sharing of happiness among God's creation such as saying kind words or smile at someone or take care of animals or environments etc.

Zakat or sadqah is worship in Islam a means of spiritual purification. It is not a tax burden but serves as socio-financial system of Islam by re-distributing the wealth among poor and needy.


Ramadhan (Arabic: رمضان‎) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
The most prominent event of this month is fasting. Every day during the month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world get up before dawn to eat Suhoor or (meaning "something we eat at Sahar"), then they perform the fajr prayer. They have to stop eating and drinking before the call for prayer starts until the fourth prayer of the day, Maghrib. Muslims break their fast at Magrib (at sunset) prayer time with a meal called Iftar. Muslims may continue to eat and drink after the sun has set until the next morning's fajr prayer call. Then the process starts all over.

Ramadhan is a time of reflecting and worshiping God. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam and to avoid obscene and irreligious sights and sounds. Sexual activities during fasting hours are also forbidden. Purity of both thoughts and actions is important. The fast is intended to be an exacting act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised awareness of closeness to God.
The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also allows Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity.

Muslims should start observing the fasting ritual upon reaching the age of puberty, so long as they are healthy, sane and have no disabilities or illnesses. The elderly, the chronically ill, and the mentally ill are exempt from fasting, although the first two groups must endeavor to feed the poor in place of their missed fasting. Also exempt are pregnant women, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns.


Ṣalāt (Arabic: صلاة‎; pl. ṣalawāt) is the name given to the formal prayer of Islam. The prayer is one of the obligatory rites of the religion, to be performed five times a day. Its supreme importance is indicated by its status as one of the Five Pillars.

The Two Sahihs (Bukhari and Muslim) recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said, «بُنِيَ الْإِسْلَامُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ: شَهَادَةِ أَنْ لَا إِلهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللهِ، وَإِقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ، وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ، وَصَوْمِ رَمَضَانَ، وَحَجِّ الْبَيْت» (Islam is built upon five (pillars): Testifying that there is no deity worthy of worship except God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing the prayer, giving Zakat, fasting Ramadan and Hajj to the House.)

Prayer is performed five times a day: at dawn (fajr), noon (dhuhr), in the afternoon (asr), at sunset (maghrib) and nightfall (isha'a)

The Islamic day begins at dawn (fajr).

The chief purpose of prayer in Islam is to act as a person's communication with God. By reciting "The Opening", the first chapter of the Qur'an, as required in all prayer, the worshipper can stand before God, thank and praise Him, and to ask for guidance along the Straight Path.

In addition, the daily prayers remind Muslims to give thanks for God's blessings and that Islam takes precedence over all other concerns, thereby revolving their life around Allah and submitting to His will. Prayer also serves as a formal method of remembering God, or dhikr.

In the Qur'an, it is written that: "The true believers are those who feel fear in their hearts when God is mentioned. And when His Revelations are recited to them, they find their faith strengthened. They do their best and then put their trust in their Lord." [Qur'an 8:2]

"To those whose hearts, when God is mentioned, are filled with fear, who show patient perseverance over their afflictions, keep up regular prayer, and spend (in charity) out of what We have bestowed upon them." [Qur'an 22:35]


The Shahada, also spelled shahadah, (Arabic: الشهاد)from the verb šahida "to testify") is the Islamic creed. The Shahada is the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of God and acceptance of Muhammad as his final prophet. The declaration reads: laa ilāha illa Allāh, wa Muḥammad(un) rasūl Allāh “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God. Recitation of the Shahadah is the most important of the Five Pillars of Islam for Muslims and is performed daily. People wishing to convert to Islam do so by a public recitation of the creed while pointing their index finger as shown in the photo.

Introducing Shaykh Salek bin Siddina

Shaykh Salek is from Mauritania, West Africa a country known for producing some of the Muslim world's most knowledgeable scholars. He studied for over 17 years in the famous mountain region of Taganat, from numerous accomplished scholars including Murabit al-Hajj, one of the greatest scholars of our age. In addition to memorizing the entire Quran in two of its recitations, he has studied and mastered some of the most advanced texts in the disciplines of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), arabic grammer (nahu), doctrinal creed (aqida), prophetic narration (hadith), and the study of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (seerah). From a family tracing its lineage back to Jafar ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be well pleased with him, he is respected and widely regarded amongst his peers as a scholar of the highest caliber. He currently runs a school in Mauritania ,teaching the Quran,Islamic law, and numerous other subjects to children and adults of all ages.

A day with Murabit al Hajj by Hamza Yusuf

During the blessed time that I was fortunate to have lived with him in his own tent, I observed his daily routine: He would usually awake at about 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning and begin the Tahajjud or night prayers. He would often recite for a few hours, and I heard him repeat verses over and over again and weep. Just before dawn, he would sit outside his tent and recite Qur’an, and then when the first light of dawn was discernible, he would walk to the open-air mosque and call the adhan. He would then pray his nafilah and wait for a short period and then call the iqamah. During that time, I never saw anyone else lead the prayer, and he would almost always recite from the last 60th of the Qur’an as is the Sunnah for a congressional Imam to do so according to Imam Malik.

After the sun rose and reached the level of a spear above the horizon, he would pray the sunrise rak’ahs and then return to his tent where he would have some milk brought fresh from a cow. He would then teach until about 11:00 in the morning and nap for a short while. After that, students would start coming again, and he would continue to teach until about 1:00pm at which time he would measure his shadow for the time of the midday prayer. He would then call the adhan at the time his shadow reached an arm’s length past the post meridian time as is the Maliki position on the midday prayer, if performed in congregation, to allow for others to come from their work after the heat dissipates. He would always pray four rakahs before and after the midday prayer and then return to his tent where he would teach until afternoon. He would usually have a small amount of rice and yogurt drink that is common in West Africa. Then, he would measure his shadow for the afternoon prayer, and when he ascertained its time, he would proceed to the mosque and call the adhan.

After Asr, Murabit al-Hajj would return to his tent and usually resume teaching and sometimes listen to students recite their Qur’an lessons from memory and he would correct their mistakes. During any lulls in his teaching, anyone in his presence could hear him say with almost every breath, “La ilaha illa Allah,” or he would recite Qur’an. At sunset, he would go and call the adhan, pray Maghrib, and then sit in the mihrab and recite his wird until the time of the night prayer. He would call the adhan, lead the pray and return to his tent. He would usually have some milk and a little couscous and then listen to students recite Qur’an or read Qur’an by himself. At around 9:00 pm whe would admonish himself with lines of poetry form Imam Shafi’s Diwan and other well-known poets. He would often remember death with certain line that he repeated over and over again, especially the following that I heard him many times:

O my Lord, when that which there is repelling alights upon me,

And I find myself leaving this adobe

And become Your guest in a dark and lonely place,

Then make the host’s meal for his guest the removal of my wrongs.

A guest is always honored at the hands of a generous host,

And You are the Generous, the Creator, the Originiator.

Surely kings, as a way of displaying their magnanimity

Free their servants who have grown old in their service.

And I have grown old in Your service,

So free my soul from the Fire

He often repeats these lines for what seems like an eternity, his voice penetrating the hearts of all those within earshot. He once admonished me with lines of poetry, one after another, until I wanted the earth to swallow me. He said to me, “And what is man other than a comet that flashes brilliant light for a moment only to be reduced to ashes.”

He told me several times, “Hamza, this world is an ocean, and those who drown in it are untold numbers. Don’t drown.”

I have never seen anyone like him before him or after him, and I don’t think that I ever will.May Allah reward him for his service to this din and his love and concern for the Muslims. He was never known to speak ill of anyone. Once when a student was studying Khalil with him and asked what a certain word meant in the text, he explained to him that it was a slow and clumsy horse. The student then said, “like so-and-so’s horse?” At this Murabit al-Hajj suddenly became upset and said, “I don’t spend much time with people because they backbite, so if you want to study with me, you must never speak ill of anyone in my presence.” It is not well known by Muslims that to speak ill of someone’s animals falls under the ruling of backbiting.

Shaykh Murabit al-Hajj is a master of the sciences of Islam, but perhaps more wondrous than that, he has mastered his own soul. His discipline is almost angelic, and his presence is so majestic and ethereal that the one in it experiences a palpable stillness in the soul. As the Arabs says, “the one who hears is not as the one who has seen.” I was told by many people from his family that had I seen him in his youth, I would have been even more astonished at his devotional practices

The school of Murabit al Hajj

The Mauritanian school system of the mahdhara is a microcosm of the traditional style of learning that was going on throughout the Ummah. Then, within Mauritania, the school of Shaykh Murabit al Hajj is outstanding in that it has preserved the traditional way more so than other areas due to the remoteness of the village, an area where not even the Mauritanians in general frequent. In the early 1970's, Shaykh Murabit al Hajj and his family decided to go down and live in a city that was being established nearby, Guerou, because the drought had made it hard to live in the badia (open land) since their lives depended on their livestock and seasonal farming. It was an easier life, but Shaykh Murabit al Hajj did not feel comfortable living there as he felt that people were drifting away from the Sunnah. So, in accordance with the hadith about the last days, he took his family and livestock and returned to the badiato protect his deen.

The present location of his school has, at times, up to 400 people. About 100 of them are students with the rest being the shuyukh, their families, other families that have come to live with Shaykh Murabit al Hajj, and seasonal workers. There are two other schools in the area which follow the same style of teaching and learning. About 20 km to the northwest is the school of Murabit Ahmad Fal, who is the father of Shaykh Abdullah ould AhmadnaShaykh Ahmad Fal was married to the daughter of Shaykh Murabit al Hajj until she passed away. About 30 km east of Shaykh Murabit al Hajj's school is the school of the noble Shaykh Muhammad Zain (who is descended from the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him).

The method of learning utilizes the lawh , or wooden tablet, whereby the text is written in charcoal ink on the tablet and then memorized and studied under the watchful guidance of the shuyukh. Everything that is studied is committed to memory, and this is one of the reasons why the scholars of Mauritania (also known as Shinquitt) made a distinguished presence wherever they went. The children first memorize the Quran, starting at about seven years of ageAfter memorizing it, they study the rasm, which is the science related to writing the Quran according to the 'Uthmani script. Next, they study the Quran a second time, though this time they write it on their tablets from memory. The first time they write it either having the shaykh write it for them, dictate it to them, or by looking at a mushaf (copy of the Quran). After that, they learn the dabt which is a science related to the differences between the two narrations of Nafi' (Warsh and Qalun). They then move on to pursue further studies in fiqh, grammar, aqidah and hadith.

The madhab of Imam Malik is taught using traditional texts. The text of Ibn Ashir, Imam al Akhdari, the Risala of Ibn Abi Zaid, Ashalul Masalik, Nathmu Muqadimaati ibn Rushd, and the Mukhtasar of Sidi Khalil are the main texts studied there for fiqh. As for grammar, they use the Ajrumiyyah, Mulhat al 'Iraab, Qatru Nada, and the Alfiyyah of Ibn Malik. In aqidah, they teach the Ash'ari creed using the texts of Imam Ash Sharnubi, Imam al Bulaym, Jawahar at Tawhid, and Idaah as well as other texts.

The school is very simple in its set up, and there is no registration, semesters, or tuition. Each student enters study at whatever level he is on and may begin at any time of the year. After learning the basic texts of fard 'ain (individual obligation), the course of studies is up to the student, although the shuyukh will generally recommend what each particular student should study. Once a subject has been chosen, the student will then write out a small section of the text onto his lawh and then go to the shaykh. The student will read it to him so that he can correct any mistakes, since the teachers there have memorized the texts. Having corrected the mistakes, if any, the shaykh will then give an explanation and answer any questions the student may have.

The entire sitting is one-on-one, and the student is given as much time as he needs for the lesson. This is very important because it allows the student to study at his own pace by going as fast or slow as he wants through the texts. Also, because of this independent type schedule, the student can come and go to the school any time of the year. Once the student finishes that particular lesson, it is studied the remainder of the day for the purpose of committing it to memory. By giving the entire day to study that one lesson, with no other subjects interrupting, the student can concentrate deeply and spend many hours reviewing it. This review comes through sitting with the other shuyukh who are at that particular school, getting tutoring from one or more of the advanced students who are there, and then memorizing it. This last point is the reason that a student studies only one subject a day and goes on to another text once that one has been completed.