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.

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