Thursday, June 17, 2010

Friday Khutbah: 20 Means to Strengthen One's Spiritual State and Practice: Part 1 of 4

Friday Khutbah: 20 Means to Strengthen One's Spiritual State and Practice: Part 1 of 4

Dar al Mustafa-Tarim Yemen

Dar al-Mustafa is an educational institute established for the study of traditional Islamic Sciences. It was founded in 1414 AH (1993 CE) in the city of Tarim, in the blessed valley of Hadramawt, Yemen.
The Dar al-Mustafa campus was officially opened in Dhul-Hijjah, 1417 AH (May, 1997 CE). The founders and teachers of Dar al-Mustafa are dedicated to training their students to achieve three main goals:
The acquisition of authentic Islamic knowledge (shari`ah) as established by the scholars of ahl as-sunna wa al-jama`ah: this knowledge, which is received through an unbroken chain of transmission from the Prophet Muhammad , is to be attained, realized, and implemented in the student's life.
The purification of the soul and the refinement of character by learning and following prophetic examples of moral conduct and noble demeanor.
The dissemination of the message brought by the Prophet Muhammad and spreading the call to Islam using a methodology based on mercy, truthfulness, sincerity, high opinions of others, and a commitment to act upon one's faith.
Thus, the central purpose of Dar al-Mustafa, as indicated by these goals, is the attainment of beneficial knowledge by learning from the people who possess it, acting upon this knowledge in an exemplary way, and calling to God with true insight and discernment

One on One - Kareem Abdul Jabbar - Part 2

One on One - Kareem Abdul Jabbar - Part 1

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah

Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, hafidhu Allah, is an extremely well-known and well-respected scholar amongst scholars. In fact, he is a scholars' scholar since many of his students are actually now considered scholars in the Muslim world.

Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah was born in Mauritania, West Africa and is the son of a great scholar, Shaykh Mahfudh
(may Allah have mercy on his soul). From a very young age, he showed extreme intellectual gifts and a profound ability to absorb vast amounts of information and text. He memorized most of the texts taught in the varying subjects including the Qur’an, Hadith, grammar, logic, rhetoric, semantics, philosophy and poetry. While still quite young, he was appointed to study legal judgements in Tunisia.

When he returned to Mauritania, he became Minister of Education and later, Minister of Justice.
He was also one of the Vice Presidents to the first President of Mauritania. However, due to the conditions in Mauritania and the military change of governments that took place, he began to teach and ended up going to Saudi Arabia to become a distinguished professor at The University of Usool al-Fiqh.

Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah is also involved in writing. He has written several books and has delivered lectures all over the world. One of the areas of his expertise is in Fiqh al-Aqaliyaat, which is the juristic rulings related to minority Muslims.

Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah is a member of several legal bodies worldwide, such as the European Council of Legal Opinion and the Supreme Fiqh Council. He resides in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with his family and teaches Islamic Legal Methodology, Qur’an and Arabic at the King Abdal Aziz University.

He has graced our programs in the past with his blessed presence, sharing with us his vast wisdom and hikmah. He is fluent in Arabic and French, and delivers his lectures in Arabic with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf as his translator

The Turban in Islam

ALLAHUMMA salli 'ala sahibi al-taj, goes a famous Yemeni prayer _ "Our
Lord, bless the Owner of the Crown!" The "crown" is the turban, and its
owner is the Holy Prophet Muhammad, upon him blessings and peace.

'Imama, the turban, has been the most distinctive vestimentary sunnah _
"way of life" _ of Islam since the beginnings of the Religion. 'Abd
Allah ibn 'Umar said: "The Prophet used to wind the turban around his
head and tuck it in behind him, letting its extremity hang down between
his shoulders."

Turbans were worn even before Islam and signified a man's honour. An
Arab saying goes, "Turbans are the crowns of the Arabs". This was
explained to mean that although the pristine Arabs were too proud to
accept a king's rule over them, and therefore had no crowns other than
their turbans.

The early Muslim way of wearing the turban consisted in two pieces of
headdress: the qalansuwa or borderless hat of varying thickness, and the
'imama, the actual turban cloth wound around the qalansuwa. Abu Dawud
mentioned in his Sunan that the Prophet is related to have said, "The
difference between us and the pagans is that we wear the 'imama on top
of the qalansuwa." Thus, wearing either exclusively of the other was
originally a foreign practice.

The material of the turban is ideally white muslin, a very fine cotton.
The colours and length of the turban vary. In the chapters on the
Prophet's turban in the books of the "Prophetic Characteristics" known
as Shama'il, the authorities have mentioned seven and 10 yard lengths as
the two standards. However, as long as one can at least wind the turban
around once, its length suffices, while great Shaykhs of the past have
been known to wear large and heavy turbans exceeding 10 yard-lengths by

All of the founding Imams of the four schools of Ahl al-Sunnah
wal-Jama'ah wore the turban. In their biographies of the founder of the
Hanafi School, Imam Abu Hanifah _ famous for his awesome analytical mind
_ al-Suyuti and al-Haytami relate that he owned seven turbans, perhaps
one for each day of the week.

The Hanafis, such as Subcontinent and other Asian Muslims from the
Chinese to the Turks, are particularly strict about never praying
bareheaded. A famous manual of law according to the four Sunni Schools
states, "According to the Hanafi school it is abominable to pray
bareheaded out of laziness. But praying bareheaded out of humbleness and
a feeling of submission is permitted."

The founder of the Maliki School _ which dominates most of Africa today
_ Imam Malik ibn Anas always wore beautiful clothes, especially white,
and he "passed the turban under his chin (a style known as tahannuk),
letting its extremity hang behind his back, and he wore musk and other
scents," said one of his students.

Malik stressed the wearing of the turban, particularly for the learned.
"The turbans should not be neglected," he said. "I wore the turban with
nary a hair on my face. When I asked permission from my mother to pursue
the scholarly life she said: 'First, wear the garb of the scholars'; she
took me and dressed me in short-hemmed (mushammara) garments, placed a
tall headcover on my head and tied a turban around it then she said,
'Now go and write the Science'.

"I saw over 30 men wearing the turban in my teacher Rabi'a's circle. He
would not put it down before the Pleiades rose (late at night) and he
used to say: 'I swear it strengthens wit!"'

Baring the head in Islam was the sign of a man of low condition and is
listed in many a manual among the "acts which betray lack of
self-respect" (khawarim al-muru'a). A scholar relates that as a young
man, one day, he entered the mosque in Madinah without anything on his
head whereupon his father scolded him to no end. "How dare you enter the
mosque bare-headed?"

It was a different matter, however, if the same was done out of
humility, as revealed by the wording of a question that was put to one
of the eight-century authorities in Syria: "Is it all right if people
gather in the mosque, making zikir and reading al-Qur'an, praying to
Allah and taking their turbans off their heads, weeping, as long as
their intention is not pride nor self-display but seeking to draw closer
to Him?" he replied yes.

The illiterate Shaykh 'Ali al-Hajjar was described as "the Bare-Headed,
the saintly man" but another Egyptian, the stern Ibn Daqiq al-'Id, said:
"What is carried on top of the head should not be put down" _ at least,
not on the floor.

Imam Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i, founder of the School which bears
his name and dominates large parts of the middle East and the totality
of Southeast Asia, "was thrifty in his dress and wore thin clothes of
linen and Baghdadi cotton. He sometimes wore a headcover that was not
very tall but he wore the turban very often", said one of his students.
"I counted three hundred turbans in his circle save those I could not

Another said: "Al-Shafi'i used to wear a large turban, as if he were a
desert Arab." Both he and his student, the Imam of the Hanbali School,
Ahmad ibn Hanbal, passed it under his chin the way the North African
Touareg and many Sudanese do to this day.

Such is the high nobility of the turban that we are told even the angels
wore it. Of the Qur'anic verse, "Your Lord shall help you with five
thousand angels bearing marks" (Surat Ali 'Imran, verse 125), Ibn
'Abbas, the greatest of the early exegetes, said: "The signs are that
they wore turbans."

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Sheikh 'Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri

Light Upon Light in Damascus

Sheikh 'Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri left this world on Tuesday 8 June 2004 in
Damascus after a lifetime of serving Islam and Muslims. Thousands came to
his funeral on Wednesday at the mosque of Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn al-'Arabi in
the Salihiyya quarter. Among the people who prayed over him and buried him
were those who knew him as a father, friend, religious scholar, teacher,
mystical poet and vocalist, and Sufi sheikh. I knew him as the latter.

Twenty-two years ago, we had come out of this mosque together after visiting
the shrine of Sheikh Muhyiddin, and I watched for a moment as he stopped to
buy some apples from a cart in front of the mosque. He took the plastic bag
from the seller and filled it with the worst apples he could find - nicked,
bruised, and worm-holed - which he chose as carefully as most people choose
good ones, then paid for and with a smile shook hands with the man before we
went up the hill to the sheikh's home. Small and lithe, he had a light
complexion, penetrating eyes, aquiline features with expressive lips, and a
trimmed mustache and full beard. He dressed elegantly, wearing a few turns
of white and gold cloth around a red fez on his head, a knee-length suit and
vest over a shirt without a tie, and trousers tapering to the ankles. As we
climbed higher and higher, I wanted to carry the bag, but he wouldn't let
me, saying that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) had said,
"The one who needs a thing is the one who should carry it." When I reflected
on his strange "shopping," I realized that it had been to save the apple man
from having to throw any out. The incident summed up the sheikh's
personality and life, which was based on futuwwa or "putting others ahead of

Many who knew him regarded him as a wali or friend of Allah, and surely his
long decades of service to others had much to do with it. His wife bore him
five sons and five daughters, and he was preceded to the afterlife by her
and a son. Originally a weaver by trade, he had been instrumental in
unionizing workers in the present century in Damascus, and served on the
committee that led the Syrian Textile Workers' Union in a successful
forty-day strike for workmen's compensation. He had represented Syria in the
United Arab Workers' Union, and led an active public life. Earlier this year
in the month of Rabi' I, he had received recognition at the Burda [Prophetic
Mantle] annual poetry awards given by the United Arab Emirates for
outstanding service to the Umma of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him
peace). With the apples and everything else he did, he was always teaching
students the inner sunnas of the character and states of the Prophet (Allah
bless him and give him peace), to whom he referred everything. "I am just a
parrot," he told us.

I once came to Damascus to complain about one of the brethren in Jordan, and
after checking into a hotel, went to the tiny room and bookshop of Sheikh
'Abd al-Wakil al-Durubi off the courtyard of the Darwishiyya Mosque. Sheikh
'Abd al-Rahman would drop in after the noon prayer each day to visit with
his friends, and I found him there and gave my Salams, but before I could
say anything, he said, "How is your ego getting along with So-and-so?"
mentioning the person by name. I was abashed for a moment, then said,
"Praise be to Allah." The sheikh replied, "Praise be to Allah," then talked
about the importance of being with true and honest people, and avoiding
those who spoke badly of others.
Despite such incidents, the sheikh would say, "The person of the sheikh is a
veil," and never drew attention to himself, but to Allah and to the sunna of
His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). He stressed learning the
traditional sciences, and would not permit disciples' ignorance of fiqh or
'aqida. He never went to school, because as an orphan brought from Homs to
Damascus by his older brother, he had to earn his keep by running errands,
and taught himself how to read and write by looking at the signs above the
shops whose owners' names he knew. When he later got a job as a weaver, he
used to sing his own rustic religious compositions to popular tunes, keeping
time to the loom he worked at. A fellow worker heard him, and told him that
he should study Classical Arabic. "What is Classical Arabic?" he asked, and
the man took him to Sheikh Husni al-Baghghal, who educated him in Shafi'i
fiqh and Arabic grammar. He studied these and other traditional subjects
with sheikhs of the time such as Muhammad Barakat, 'Ali al-Daqar, Isma'il
al-Tibi, and Lutfi al-Hanafi.

Sheikh 'Abd al-Rahman told us that when Husni al-Baghghal caught
tuberculosis, before the era of antibiotics, he was put in quarantine, which
his student defied by visiting him. His teacher told him he was risking his
life, and in reply, seeing that the sheikh had a candy in his mouth, 'Abd
al-Rahman asked if he could see it for a moment. The sheikh gave it to him,
and the young man popped it into his own mouth, telling him that according
to tenets of faith ('ilm al-tawhid), "causes do not bring about effects by
themselves, but only by Allah's will." The illness proved terminal to the
sheikh, but Sheikh 'Abd al-Rahman survived.

His long association with sheikhs of learning bequeathed him a lifelong
respect for Islamic knowledge and a habit of "making sure" before answering
any question about religion. "What the Imams have recorded is our religion,"
he used to say, and when I once asked him what dhikrs one should recite
after the prescribed prayer, though he had prayed all his life and was over
seventy at the time, instead of answering he reached to his bookshelf, found
Imam Nawawi's Kitab al-adhkar, and read several sahih hadiths from it.
Throughout the 1980s, whenever I would ask him about a hadith or verse of
the Qur'an, he would always reach for a reference work and in his patient
way open it up and find something about it. Though he knew many of the
answers, I had to be taught to use references, so he taught me. This became
apparent in later years, when he came to answer me more freely from his own
Imam Abul Hasan al-Shadhili, whose order the sheikh belonged to, would not
let his disciples beg, but had them earn their own livelihood, and Sheikh
'Abd al-Rahman also emphasized the importance of having a trade to earn
one's living by the work of one's hands. He used to say, "I hope to pass on
from this world without having taken a single piaster from anyone: I don't
even take from my children."

Born in Homs in 1910, he came to Damascus at three, and worked first as a
stableboy, then as an errand boy, then as a weaver, then as a foreman, then
as a supervisor of textile mills. When the textile industry was nationalized
under socialism, he was but two years away from retiring and receiving his
pension, and was now asked to head the industry. He told the government that
"nationalization is theft," and he would have nothing to do with it, for
which he was fired and forfeited his pension. He later found a position as a
teacher of tenets of faith at a religious academy, where he taught until he
was over eighty years of age and could no longer walk to work.
While still in his twenties, Sheikh 'Abd al-Rahman took the Shadhili path
from Sheikh Muhammad al-Hashimi, the representative in Damascus of Sheikh
Ahmad al-'Alawi of Mostaganem, Algeria. He remembered meeting Sheikh
al-'Alawi in 1932 on his visit to Damascus after the hajj. Sheikh al-'Alawi
had sat in the Shamiyya Mosque after sunset to give a lesson, and the young
weaver had looked askance at the sheikh's socks, which were French, not of
the plain-spun local manufacture. Sheikh 'Abd al-Rahman told us: "I said:
'Look at those socks. This man is supposed to be a sheikh?' Then he began to
speak on the aphorism of Sidi Ibn 'Ata' Illah
Do not leave the invocation of Allah (dhikr) because of your lack of
presence with Allah therein, for your heedlessness of invocation is worse
than your heedlessness in invocation. It may well be that He raises you from
invocation with heedlessness to invocation with attentiveness, and from
invocation with attentiveness to invocation with presence of heart, and from
invocation with presence of heart to invocation in which there is absence -
from anything besides the Invoked, 'and that is not difficult for Allah'
[Qur'an 14:20].
"His commentary was something else. When he finished and the nightfall
prayer ('isha) came," Sheikh 'Abd al-Rahman smiled as he remembered, "I said
to myself, 'This sheikh can wear any kind of socks he likes.'"

In subsequent years, until Sheikh al-Hashimi's death in 1961, Sheikh 'Abd
al-Rahman became the head munshid or singer of mystic odes, at the hadra or
public dhikr - the sama' or audition advocated by Junayd and his circle as
well as the modern Shadhili tariqa. Sheikh al-Hashimi also authorized him to
give the general litany (wird al-'amm) of the tariqa to others. Although
later in the sixties the brethren urged Sheikh 'Abd al-Rahman to teach them,
and he had been authorized at the time by both Sheikh Muhammad Sa'id
al-Hamzawi of Syria and Sheikh 'Ali al-Budlaymi of Algeria, he did not use
either authorization to teach, until Sheikh Muhammad Sa'id al-Kurdi of
Jordan - whom Sheikh 'Abd al-Rahman had introduced to Sheikh al-Hashimi in
the 1930s and been his fellow disciple with - made him his authorized

Introducing Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

Born Timothy J. Winter in 1960, Abdal Hakim studied at the prestigious Westminster School in London, UK and later at the University of Cambridge, where he graduated with first class honours in Arabic in 1983. He then lived in Cairo for three years, studying Islam under traditional teachers at Al-Azhar, one of the oldest universities in the world. He went on to reside for three years in Jeddah, where he administered a commercial translation office and maintained close contact with Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad and other ulama from Hadramaut, Yemen.
In 1989, Sheikh Abdal Hakim returned to England and spent two years at the University of London learning Turkish and Farsi. Since 1992 he has been a doctoral student at Oxford University, specializing in the religious life of the early Ottoman Empire. In 1996, he was appointed University Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge.

Sheikh Abdal Hakim is the translator of a number of works, including two volumes from Imam al-Ghazali Ihya Ulum al-Din. He gives durus and halaqas from time to time and taught the works of Imam al-Ghazali at the Winter 1995 Deen Intensive Program in New Haven, CT. He appears frequently on BBC Radio and writes occasionally for a number of publications including The Independent and Q-News International, Britain's premier Muslim Magazine.

He lives with his wife and children in Cambridge, UK.

Introducing Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf was born in Walla Walla, Washington, and grew up in Northern California in a Greek Orthodox family. He is founder of the Zaytuna Institute. He embraced Islam in 1977 in Santa Barbara, California when he was only 17 and set off almost immediately to study Arabic, Islamic jurisprudence, philosophy, and spiritual psychology with masters in the Muslim world.
In 1979, he moved to the United Arab Emirates and studied in the Islamic Institute of Al-'Ain for four years, augmenting his studies with lessons by leading scholars of the Islamic world.

Some of the scholars he studied with include Shaikh Baya bin Salik, head of the Islamic court in Al-'Ain; Shaikh Muhammad Shaybani, Mufti of Abu Dhabi; Shaikh Hamad al-Wali; and Shaikh Muhammad al-Fatrati of Al-Azhar University. In 1984, Hamza Yusuf entered the Bilal ibn Rabah Madrasa of Tizi, Algeria and studied with Shaikh Sidi Bou Sai'd. After being expelled from Algeria by the government, he travelled to a unique madrassa in Mauritania and studied with the most noble scholar Shaykh Murabit al-Hajj bin Fahfu where he continues his studies periodically.

After ten-years of studies abroad, he returned to the United States and completed degrees in nursing at Imperial Valley College and religious studies at San Jose State University.

Hamza Yusuf is a cofounder of Zaytuna College, located in Berkeley, California. He is an advisor to Stanford University's Program in Islamic Studies and the Center for Islamic Studies at Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union. He also serves as a member of the board of advisors of George Russell's One Nation, a national philanthropic initiative that promotes pluralism and inclusion in America. In addition, he serves as vice-president for the Global Center for Guidance and Renewal, which was founded and is currently presided over by Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, one of the top jurists and masters of Islamic sciences in the world. Recently, Hamza Yusuf was ranked as "the Western world's most influential Islamic scholar" by The 500 Most Influential Muslims, edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin, (2009).

Hamza Yusuf is one of the leading proponents of classical learning in Islam. He has promoted Islamic sciences and classical teaching methodologies throughout the world. He has also been a strong advocate for social justice, peace, and conviviality among peoples and places. For several years, he has argued that the "them versus us" problem is fundamentally flawed, as he considers himself one of "them" as well as one of "us."

Hamza Yusuf has served as an advisor to many organizations, leaders, and heads of state. He has been an innovator in modern Islamic education, founding the highly imitated Deen Intensives, and with Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Afa, he started the first Rihla program in England, which has been running for over fifteen years. Dozens of young Muslims who were influenced by his call to reviving traditional Islamic studies in the West went to the Muslim lands in the nineties and early part of the current decade to study, many of who are now teachers in their own right.

With Eissa Bougari, Hamza Yusuf initiated a media challenge to the Arab world that resulted in a highly successful cultural religious program that he hosted for three years and was one of the most watched programs in the Arab world during Ramadan. Cambridge Media Studies stated that this program had a profound influence on subsequent religious programming in the Arab world. He has also been interviewed on BBC several times and was the subject of a BBC documentary segment The Faces of Islam, ushering in the new millennium, as it aired at 11:30pm on Dec. 31st 1999.

Hamza Yusuf has been a passionate and outspoken critic of American foreign policy as well as Islamic extremist responses to those policies. He has drawn criticism from both the extreme right in the West and Muslim extremists in the East. Ed Hussain has written that Hamza Yusuf's teachings were instrumental to his abandoning extremism.

Shaykh Faraz was born in Karachi, Pakistan and raised in Toronto, Canada. He entered the University of Toronto with a full scholarship and completed his Bachelor's in Economics & Commerce in May 1997. While in Canada, Shaykh Faraz was involved with various organizations and projects, including founding and running the monthly The Muslim Voice and acting as the Vice-President of the University of Toronto MSA from 1994-1996. While in Toronto, he was involved in various Islamic study circles and educational programs, including those of Shaykh Ahmad Talal al-Ahdab, Shaykh Faisal Abd al-Razzaq, and Shaykh Muhammad Zahid Abu Ghudda.

After graduation, Shaykh Faraz traveled with his family to Damascus, Syria, to formally seek Islamic knowledge. In Damascus, he studied Arabic, Aqida, Mantiq, Hanafi Fiqh, Shafi'i Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, and Hadith with a number of scholars including Shaykh Haytham Idilbi, Shaykh Abd al-Rahman Kharsa, Shaykh Abd al-Haleem Abu Sha`r, Shaykh Umar al-Sabbagh, Shaykh Jihad Brown, Shaykh Mu'min al-Annan, Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, Sayyidi Shaykh Adib Kallas, Shaykh Muhammad Jumuah, Sh. Abd al-Razzaq al-Halabi, Shaykh Haytham, Shaykh Abd al-Haleem Abu Sha`r, and Ustadh Mahmud al-Bayruti. In the Summer of 2000, he moved to Amman, Jordan. Upon moving to Jordan, his teachers advised him to focus on teaching what he had covered, for which they gave him encouragement and permission, and to continue his personal research and study.

He has two published books: Sufism & Good Character and The Absolute Essentials of Islam: A Basic Hanafi Primer on Faith, Prayer, & the Path of Salvation. [White Thread Press, 2004. He also runs the blog Seeker's Digest and has a regular column in Islamica Magazine. Encouraged by his instructors to return to the West to teach, he now lives in Toronto with his wife and three children.

Shaykh Faraz taught at SunniPath from 2003-2008

Introducing Imam Zaid Shakir

Zaid Shakir is amongst the most respected and influential Islamic scholars in the West. As an American Muslim who came of age during the civil rights struggles, he has brought both sensitivity about race and poverty issues and scholarly discipline to his faith-based work.
Born in Berkeley, California, he accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force. He obtained a BA with honors in International Relations at American University in Washington D.C. and later earned his MA in Political Science at Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, he led a successful campaign for disinvestment from South Africa, and co-founded a local Islamic center, Masjid al-Huda.

After a year of studying Arabic in Cairo, Egypt, he settled in New Haven, Connecticut and continued his community activism, co-founding Masjid al-Islam, the Tri-State Muslim Education Initiative, and the Connecticut Muslim Coordinating Committee. As Imam of Masjid al-Islam from 1988 to 1994 he spear-headed a community renewal and grassroots anti-drug effort, and also taught political science and Arabic at Southern Connecticut State University. He then left for Syria to pursue his studies in the traditional Islamic sciences.

For seven years in Syria, and briefly in Morocco, he immersed himself in an intense study of Arabic, Islamic law, Quranic studies, and spirituality with some of the top Muslim scholars of our age. In 2001, he graduated from Syria's prestigious Abu Noor University and returned to Connecticut, serving again as the Imam of Masjid al-Islam, and writing and speaking frequently on a host of issues. That same year, his translation from Arabic into English of The Heirs of the Prophets was published by Starlatch Press.

In 2003, he moved to Hayward, California to serve as a scholar-in-residence and lecturer at Zaytuna Institute, where he now teaches courses on Arabic, Islamic law, history, and Islamic spirituality. In 2005, Zaytuna Institute published Scattered Pictures, an anthology of diverse essays penned by Zaid Shakir.

He is a frequent speaker at local and national Muslim events and has emerged as one of the nation’s top Islamic scholars and a voice of conscience for American Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Introducing Usama Canon

Born and raised in California, Usama Canon embraced Islam in 1996. Since then, he has had the honor of studying various Islamic Sciences both at home and abroad under some of today’s foremost scholars. Currently, Usama Canon serves as an Instructor at Zaytuna Institute and as a Muslim Chaplain for the State of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Usama Canon is the Founding Director of Ta’leef Collective and maintains an active role in various facets of outreach and education, concentrating on issues facing Muslim youth, assisting converts, and developing support systems for Muslim ex-offenders

Introducing Shaykh Abdur Rahman Tahir (1929-2011)

Shaykh Abdur-Rahman Tahir was born in the western part of Somalia in 1929. After memorizing the Qur'an, he studied extensively in the traditional Islamic schools of that region. Upon graduating from high school he ventured to Egypt to further his Islamic education. He graduated from Al-Azhar University in 1963. During his time in Egypt, he studied with many of the most renowned scholars in the Islamic world, including Sheikh 'Abdul-Halim Mahmud, and Sheikh Muhyiddin 'Abdul-Hamid.
During his time in Egypt, Shaykh 'Abdur-Rahman served as an Arabic Language broadcast for Egyptian Radio's, "Sawt al-'Arab" program from 1960 until 1963. Upon his return to Somalia, he served as the President of the National Appellate Court from 1965 until 1976. He also served as the Somali Minister of Islamic Affairs and Endowments from 1993 until 1995.

Since his migration to the United States in 1997, he has been one of the greatest knowledge resources in the San Francisco Bay area. He currently teaches Mantiq (Islamic Logic) and Tawhid and Arabic Language. The Shaykh passed on to his Lord December 2011 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Introducing Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Ustadh Yahya Rhodus was born in America’s Midwest. He became Muslim at the age of 19 in the San Francisco Bay Area and began studying with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and distinguished scholars visiting from Mauritania, Shaykh Khatry and Shaykh Abdullah Ould Ahmadna. In 1998, he left for Mauritania to further his studies of Islamic Sciences. There he spent over a year studying with some of Mauritania's great scholars, including Shaykh Murabit al-Hajj, one the great scholars of our age. In 2000, he moved to Tarim, Yemen to continue his studies at the prestigious Dar al-Mustafa. There he studied with renowned scholars including Habib `Ali al-Jifry, Habib `Umar bin Hafiz, and other local scholars. In 2005, he returned to the US from his studies overseas to serve as a full-time teacher at Zaytuna Institute until the summer of 2007. To further his studies he then moved back to Tarim until the end of 2009. Ustadh Yahya has now returned to the San Francisco Bay Area