Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Foundations of the Spiritual Path

Foundations of the Spiritual Path
By Sidi Ahmad Zarruq Translated by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The noble scholar, the unique of his age, the regulator of the scholars and the saints, Sidi Ahmad Zarruq al-Barnusi al-Fasi, may Allah be pleased with him, wrote the following:

If anyone is asked about the foundations of his path, he should reply,

The foundations of our path are five:

• Taqwa – mindfulness of Allah, privately and publicly
• Adherence to the Sunna in word and deed
• Indifference to whether others accept or reject one
• Contentment with Allah in times of both hardship and ease
• Turning to Allah in prosperity and adversity.

The realization of mindfulness of Allah is through scrupulousness and uprightness. The realization of adherence to the Sunnah is through caution and excellent character. The realization of indifference to others’ acceptance or rejection is through patience and trust in Allah. The realization of contentment is through acceptance of what one is given and turning over the management of one’s affairs to Allah. The realization of turning back to Allah is through praise and gratitude in times of prosperity and taking refuge in Him in times of affliction.

The foundations of the preceding five are in the following five:

• Exalted aspirations
• Maintaining Allah’s reverence
• Expending oneself in excellent service of others
• Fulfilling one’s resolves
• Magnifying one’s blessings.

He whose aspirations are exalted is raised in rank. Allah maintains the respect of he who preserves His reverence. He whose service is for others is ennobled by it. He who does that which he resolves to do is assured continual guidance. He who deems blessings to be great by his own eye has shown gratitude. And he who is grateful ensures an increase in blessings from the Giver of gifts according to the promise of the Truthful One.

The foundations of right conduct are five:

• Seeking sacred knowledge in order to fulfill Allah’s commands
• Keeping company with spiritual guides and the fraternity of aspirants to gain insight into one’s faults
• Foregoing dispensations and interpretations concerning injunctions for one’s own protection
• Organizing one’s time with the remembrance of Allah to maintain presence of heart
• Suspecting the selfish soul (nafs) in everything in order to free oneself from its whimsical desires and to be safe from destructive circumstances.

The pitfall of seeking knowledge is the company of sophomoric people, whether due to their age, intellect, or deficient religious practice – in other words, those who do not refer to sound principles of guidance in their actions. The pitfall of keeping company with the spiritual guides and the fraternity is elitism, deception, and self-righteous meddling in the affairs of others. The pitfall of foregoing dispensations and interpretations concerning injunctions is self-pity due to hardships. The pitfall of organizing one’s time with devotional works is ostentatious practice and ritualized perfunctory devotion.

The pitfall of constantly suspecting the selfish soul is inclining towards its upright states and goodliness, yet Allah says, “Were he to offer every kind of compensation, it would not be accepted from him” (Quran 6:70).

Moreover, the noble son of the noble one, Joseph the son of Jacob, peace be upon them both, says, in the Quran, “I do not say the selfish soul was free from blame. The selfish soul indeed commands to evil acts – except for those on whom my Lord has mercy” (12:53).

The foundations of what will cure the sickness of the soul are five:

• Moderation achieved by lightening the stomach’s intake of food and drink
• Taking refuge in Allah from harm when it actually occurs
• Vigilantly avoiding places where one fears misdeeds will occur
• Continually asking forgiveness of Allah coupled with devotional prayers upon the Prophet, peace be upon him, in both solitude and gatherings of people
• Keeping company with one who guides to Allah. Unfortunately, such a one no longer exists!

Abu Hasan Shadhili, may Allah be pleased with him, said, My beloved counseled me not to put my feet anywhere except where I hoped for Allah’s reward, not to sit anywhere except where I was safe from disobedience to Allah, not to accompany anyone except someone in whom I could find support in obedience to Allah, and not to select anyone for myself other than those who increased my certainty, and how rare they are to find! He also said, may Allah be pleased with him, Whoever directs you to this world has cheated you; whoever directs you to deeds has exhausted you; but whoever directs you to Allah has truly counseled you.

He also said, may Allah be pleased with him, Make piety (taqwa) your abode, and the delight of your selfish soul will do you no harm so long as it is discontent with its faults and does not persist in acts of disobedience nor abandons the awareness of Allah in solitude. I say that being content with the self, persisting in disobedient acts, and abandoning awareness of Allah are the foundations of all illnesses, tribulations, and pitfalls.

I have also seen that the seekers of this age are afflicted with five things:

• The preference of ignorance over Knowledge
• Being deluded by every spiritual impostor
• The inability to prioritize important matters
• Using the spiritual path as a means to inflate the selfish soul
• Attempting to expedite a spiritual opening without fulfilling its prerequisite conditions.

This has resulted in five other afflictions:

• Preferring innovations as opposed to the tried and true prophetic practice (Sunna)
• Following the people of claims and conceit as opposed to the truth
• Acting on capricious desires in all of their affairs, even the most celestial
• Preferring fantasies to realities
• The manifestation of claims without sincerity.

From these last five, five more have emanated:

• Obsessive compulsive thoughts in acts of devotion
• Laxity in matters of habitual practice
• Perfunctory devotional gatherings of invocation and chanting that lack inspiration
• Inclination toward people of rank and authority
• Companionship of those immersed in worldly matters, even mixing with the opposite sex and childish companions.

based upon far-fetched rationalizations they extrapolated from witnessing the like among real people of the path. They will even mention such people’s states and stations as a justification. On the other hand, had they had true enlightenment, they would have understood that seeking one’s provision is a dispensation for those lacking certainty, and that includes only the necessities of life without exceeding the necessary. Anyone lax in these matters is distant from Allah. As for devotional gatherings, they are permitted for people overpowered by their states or as a respite for people of excellent character. Indeed, such practice is akin to settling upon the carpet of truth if done in accordance with its requisite conditions among suitable people and in an appropriate place, not to mention fulfilling its required courtesies and protocols.

Obsessive-compulsive thoughts arise from innovation, the basis of which is in ignorance of the prophetic practice or in some psychological affliction. Any propensity toward creation is by nature the lack of such toward the truth. This is especially so coming from an obsequious chanter, a heedless tyrant, or an ignorant sufi. The company of the immature is harmful, as well as a worldly and otherworldly shortcoming, and an acceptance of such company even worse. Shaykh Abu Madyan said, “‘The immature’ means anyone who is not in conformance with the spiritual path you are on, even if it were someone who reached ninety years of age.”

I say the immature are those who are not firmly rooted in principle; they accept things at face value and are impassioned by them. The vast majority of such people are those who are pretentious in their associations with a spiritual group and prefer conversations to real spiritual work. Avoid them to the utmost of your ability.

Anyone who claims to have a station with Allah while any of the following five happen to emanate from him is either a liar or deluded:

• Allowing any of his members to fall into sinful disobedience
• Affectations in his devotional practice
• Expectations from the creation
• Backbiting against the people of Allah

• Lacking the proper respect for Muslims in accordance with the commands of Allah. Indeed, such people rarely die in a state of grace.

The qualifications of the spiritual guide with whom the seeker may safely entrust his self are the following five:

• Unadulterated spiritual experience
• Sound outward knowledge
• Celestial aspirations
• A pleasing state
• Penetrating inner perception.

Whoever has any of the following five cannot be a true spiritual guide:

• Ignorance of the religion
• Disregard for the reverence of other Muslims
• Engaging in matters of no concern to him
• Following his caprice in his affairs
• Unashamed displays of bad manners followed by lack of remorse.

The spiritual courtesies of a student with his or her spiritual guide and fellow wayfarers are also five:

•Following the directions of the guide, even if it is contrary to one’s own preference
• Avoiding what the guide forbids, even if it would appear to be highly adverse to the student
• Maintaining utmost reverence for them in their presence and absence, during their lives and after their deaths
• Giving them their due according to one’s ability without stint
• Relinquishing one’s own understanding, knowledge, and leadership to that of the teacher, unless these are already in accordance with one’s teacher.

Should the seeker not find a guiding teacher or find one who is lacking in any of these five conditions, he should depend on him only in those conditions the teacher fulfills. As for areas he is wanting in, he should treat him like a brother regarding them. Thus ends the five foundations with the praise, help, and perfect success of Allah.

It is necessary to read this every day, once or twice, and if that is not possible, then at least once a week until its meanings are imprinted on one’s soul and manifest in one’s behavior. Indeed, it contains that which enables one to dispense with many books and much advice, and it is said, “Surely they have been denied arrival by their neglect of the foundations.” Whoever reflects deeply on what we have said will acknowledge its truth, and he will continue to have recourse to it, using it as a reminder for him.

Success is ultimately by Allah.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Haji Noor Deen Mi Guang Jiang


Haji Noor Deen Mi Guang Jiang is a renowned master of Arabic calligraphy. Born in 1963 in Shangdong province, China, he brings an immense learning in traditional thought and Islamic art to a modern audience, juxtaposing them in a new calligraphic style all his own, both Eastern and Western.

The Chinese and Arabic calligraphic traditions have often been compared as the two of the world's finest manifestations of the written word, but never likened; indeed, they are at once opposites and complements. When combined the result is an artistic piece that is a work of incredibly unique beauty, and a testimony to man's synthesizing genius.

Noor Deen's extraordinary mastery and genius along with his unique ability to spectacularly deliver his craft to an audience has brought him lecture and workshop invitations from some of the most renowned and prestigious institutions around the world, including: Harvard University, Cambridge University, University of California-Berkley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Bukhari Institute and many others. He currently lectures Arabic calligraphy at the Islamic College in Zhen Zhou, China and the Zaytuna Institute in California.

Yemen's many shades of Islam

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Islam in China

According to China Muslims' traditional legendary accounts, Islam was first brought to China by an embassy sent by Uthman, the third Caliph, in 651, less than twenty years after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The embassy was led by Sa`d ibn Abī Waqqās, the maternal uncle of the prophet himself. Emperor Gaozong, the Tang emperor who received the envoy then ordered the construction of the Memorial mosque in Canton, the first mosque in the country, in memory of the prophet.

While modern historians say that there is no evidence for Waqqās himself ever coming to China,they do believe that Muslim diplomats and merchants arrived to Tang China within a few decades from the beginning of Muslim Era. The Tang Dynasty's cosmopolitan culture, with its intensive contacts with Central Asia and its significant communities of (originally non-Muslim) Central and Western Asian merchants resident in Chinese cities, which helped the introduction of Islam. The first major Muslim settlements in China consisted of Arab and Persian merchants. During the Tang and especially the Song eras, comparatively well-established, even if somewhat segregated, mercantile Muslim communities existed in the port cities of Guangzhou, Quanzhou, and Hangzhou on China's southeastern seaboard, as well as in the interior centers such as Chang'an, Kaifeng, and Yangzhou.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Allah Allah" & "Ya Rasul Allah" with Shaykh Usama Canon & Shaykh Khalil Moore from amee al-faqeer on Vimeo.

The Qur'an 101 - A Brief Introduction to the Holy Quran - Faraz Rabbani of SeekersGuidance from Faraz Rabbani on Vimeo.

The Narcicyst featuring Shadia Mansour "Hamdulillah" Official Music Video

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

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
Add a caption
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

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

Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi أحمد بن مصطفى العلاوي‎

Sheikh Ahmad ibn Mustafa al-Alawi (1869–14 July 1934),
(Arabic: أحمد بن مصطفى العلاوي‎), was the founder of a popular modern Sufi order, the Darqawiyya Alawiyya, a branch of the Shadhiliyya

Sheikh Ahmad al-Alawi was born in Mostaganem, Algeria, in 1869. He was first educated at home by his father. From the time of his father's death in 1886 until 1894, he worked in Mostaganem and followed the Aissawiyya orderIn 1894, he traveled to Morocco, and followed for fifteen years the Darqawi Shaykh Muhammad al-Buzidi.

After al-Buzidi's death in 1909, Sheikh Al-Alawi returned to Mostaganem, where he first spread the Darqawiyya, and then (in 1914) established his own order, called the Alawiyya in honor of Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet, who appeared to him in a vision and gave him that name for his new order.
The Alawiyya spread throughout Algeria, as well as in other parts of North Africa, as a result of Sheikh al-Alawi's travels, preaching and writing, and through the activities of his muqaddams (representatives). By the time of Sheikh al-Alawi's death in 1934, he had become one of the best known and most celebrated shaykhs of the century and was visited by many.

The Alawiyya was one of the first Sufi orders to establish a presence in Europe, notably among Algerians in France and Yemenis in Wales. Sheikh Al-Alawi himself traveled to France in 1926, and led the first communal prayer to inaugurate the newly built Paris Mosque in the presence of the French president. Sheikh Al-Alawi understood French well, though he was reluctant to speak it.

The Alawiyya branch also spread as far as Damascus , Syria where an authorization was given to Muhammad al-Hashimi who spread the Alawi branch all throughout the lands of the Levant.
Sheikh Al-Alawi was a Sufi shaykh in the classic Darqawi Shadhili tradition, though his order differed somewhat from the norm in its use of the systmatic practice of khalwa and in laying especial emphasis on the invocation of the Supreme Name [of God].

In addition to being a classic Sufi shaykh, Sheikh al-Alawi addressed the problems of modern Algerians using modern methods. As well as writing poetry and books on established Sufi topics, he founded and directed two weekly newspapers, the short-lived Lisan al-Din (Language of Faith) in 1912, and the longer-lived Al-balagh al-jazairi (Algerian Messenger) in 1926.

In his preaching and his writings, Sheikh al-Alawi attempted to reconcile Islam and modernity. On the one hand, he criticized Westernization, both at a symbolic level (by discouraging the adoption of Western costumes that lead to ego attachment) and at a practical level (by attacking the growing consumption of alcohol among Algerian Muslims). On the other hand, he encouraged his followers to send their children to school to learn French, and even favored the translation of the Koran into French and Berber for the sake of making it more accessible, a position that was at that time most controversial.

Although Sheikh al-Alawi showed unusual respect for Christians, and was in some ways an early practitioner of inter-religious dialogue, the centerpiece of his message to Christians was that if only they would abandon the doctrines of the trinity and of incarnation "nothing would then separate us."

The great size of his following may be explained by the combination of classic Sufism with engagement in contemporary issues, combined with his own personal charisma, to which many sources, both Algerian and French, speak. Sheikh Al-Alawi's French physician, Marcel Carret, wrote of his first meeting with Sheikh al-Alawi "What immediately struck me was his resemblance to the face which is generally used to represent Christ."

Shaykh Murabit al-Hajj's fatwa on Following a Madhab (c) Translator Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Shaykh Murabit al-Hajj's fatwa on Following a Madhab
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

Amongst the most important replies that I have given, is my reply concerning the one who has deviated to the point where he censures the importance of studying the branches [furu'] of jurisprudence, and we seek refuge in Allah from the deviation of such a wandering deviant. Would that he simply had claimed independent reasoning (ijtihad) for himself only, and Allah is his reckoner, but abandoned the call of Muslims to leave that which is incumbent upon them. In our reply to such a one, we make mention what the scholars of the methodological bases of Islamic jurisprudence (usuli’un) and the Imams of jurisprudence themselves have said about such a matter. As for my labelling him a deviant, it is only because he has desired to impose upon common people the precious rank of absolute independent reasoning [ijtihad], about which Muhammad an-Nabigha said,

And ijtihad in the land of the Moroccans,
The western phoenix has taken to flight with it.

I say in reply, that the following of qualified scholarship (taqlid) is an obligation on anyone other than an absolute mujtahid. I shall make mention of all his prerequisites if Allah wills. [Sidi Abdullah Ould Hajj Ibrahim] has said in his Maraqi as-Sa’ud:

“[taqlid] is necessary for other than the one who has achieved the rank of absolute ijtihad. Even if he is a limited [mujtahid] who is unable [to perform absolute ijtihad].”

Commenting on this line, [Sidi Abdullah] said in Nashru al-bunud,

“It means that taqlid is an obligation on anyone who is not an absolute mujtahid, even if he has achieved the limited rank of ijtihad muqayyad . . . [until he says], ‘And ask the people of the reminder, if you yourselves do not know.’”

By using the line of Muhammad an-Nabigha above, I am in no way claiming that all ijtihad has been severed in every land; how [could I say such a thing] when [Sidi Abdullah] says in Maraqi as-sa’ud:

“The earth will never be void of a mujtahid scholar until its very foundations shake.”

He also said,

“[Regarding] the necessity of binding to a specific madhhab, the [scholars] have mentioned its obligation upon anyone falling short [of the conditions of ijtihad].”

He says in Nashru al-bunud,

“It means that it is incumbent for whoever falls short of achieving the rank of absolute ijtihad to follow a particular madhhab.”

Again, in Maraqi as-Sa’ud, Sidi Abdullah says,

“The consensus today is on the four, and all have prohibited following [any] others.”

He says in Nashru al-bunud,

“This means that the consensus of the scholars today is on the four schools of thought, and I mean by the schools of Malik, Abu Hanifa, Shafi’i and Ahmad. Indeed, all of the scholars have prohibited following any other school of an independent and absolute mujtahid since the eighth century when the school of Dawud adh-Dhahiri died out and until the 12th Century and all subsequent ones.”

In the chapter concerning inferential reasoning, from Maraqi as-sa’ud, [Sidi Abdullah] says,

“As for the one who is not a mujtahid, then basing his actions on primary textual evidence [Qur’an and hadith] is not permissible.”

He says in Nashru al-bunud,

“It means that it is prohibited for other than a mujtahid to base his actions upon a direct text from either the Book or the Sunna even if its transmission was sound because of the sheer likelihood of there being other considerations such as abrogation, limitations, specificity to certain situations, and other such matters that none but the mujtahid fully comprehends with precision. Thus, nothing can save him from Allah the Exalted excepted following a mujtahid. Imam al-Qarafi says,

‘And beware of doing what some students do when they reason directly from the hadith, and yet they don’t know their soundness, let alone what has been mentioned [by the Imams] concerning the subtleties involved in them; by doing this, they went astray and led others astray. And whoever interprets a verse or hadith in a manner that deviates from its intended meaning without proof [dalil] is a kafir.’”

As for the conditions of the absolute and independent ijtihad, they are mentioned in the Maraqi as-sa’ud in the following line and what follows:

“And that [word ‘faqih’] is synonymous with the [word] ‘mujtahid’ coupled with those things which bear upon [him] the burden of responsibility,

Such as his being of extreme intelligence by nature, and there is some debate about one who is known to reject juristic analogy [qiyas]

He knows the [juristic] responsibilities through intellectual proofs unless a clear transmitted proof indicates otherwise.

[Sidi Abdullah] says [in his commentary] Nashru al-bunud,

“This means that among the conditions of ijtihad is that [the mujtahid] knows that he must adhere to the intellectual proof which is the foundational condition [al-bara’atu al-asliyya] until a transmitted proof from a sacred law indicates otherwise.”

He then goes on to mention the other conditions of a mujtahid:

[The sciences of] grammar, prosody, philology, combined with those of usul and rhetoric he must master.

According to the people of precision, [he must know] where the judgements can be found without the condition of having memorized the actual texts.

[All of the above must be known] according to a middle ranked mastery at least. He must also know those matters upon which there is consensus.

[Moreover, he must know] things such as the condition of single hadiths and what carries the authority of great numbers of transmissions; also [knowledge of] what is sound and what is weak is necessary.

Furthermore, what has been abrogated and what abrogates, as well as the conditions under which a verse was revealed or a hadith was transmitted is a condition that must be met.

The states of the narrators and the companions [must also be known]. Therefore, you may follow anyone who fulfils these conditions mentioned above according to the soundest opinion.

So, consider all of the above-mentioned, and may Allah have mercy upon you, and [may you] see for yourself whether your companion is characterized by such qualities and fulfils these conditions—and I highly doubt it. More likely, he is just pointing people to himself in his demands that the people of this age take their judgements directly from the Book and Sunna. If, on the other hand, he does not possess the necessary conditions, then further discussion is useless.

In Muhammad ‘Illish’s, Fath al-‘Ali al-Malik, there are many strong rebukes for those who wish to force people to abandon the study of the judicial branches and take directly from the Book and the Sunna. The actual text of the question put to him is as follows:

“What do you say about someone who was following one of the four Imams, may Allah the Exalted be pleased with them, and then left claiming that he could derive his judgements directly form the Qur’an and the soundly transmitted hadiths, thus leaving the books of jurisprudence and inclining towards the view of Ahmad bin Idris? Moreover, he says to the one who clings to the speech of the Imams and their followers, “I say to you ‘Allah and His Messenger say’, and you reply ‘Malik said’ and ‘Ibn al-Qasim said’ or ‘Khalil said.’”

To this, Imam ‘Illish replies:

“My answer to this all this is as follows: Praise be to Allah, and Prayer and Safety be upon our Master Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah. It is not permissible for a common person to abandon following the four Imams and take directly from the textual sources of the Qur’an and the hadiths for the simple reason that this entails a great many conditions that have been clarified in the books of usul. Moreover, these conditions are rarely met by the great scholars, especially in these last days in which Islam has become a stranger just as it began a stranger.”

Ibn ‘Uyyana, may Allah be pleased with him, has said,

“The hadiths are a source of error except for the jurists.”

What he means is that people, other than the scholars, might interpret a tradition based on an apparent meaning, and yet [the hadith may] have another interpretation based on some other hadith that clarifies the meaning or some proof that remains hidden [to the common people]. After a long discussion, he remarks,

“That as for their saying, ‘How can you leave clear Qur’anic verses and sound hadiths and follow the Imams in their ijtihads, which have a clear probability of error,’”

His answer to them is as follows:

“Surely the following of our [rightly guided] Imams is not abandoning the Qur’anic verses or the sound hadiths; it is the very essence of adhering to them and taking our judgements from them. This is because the Qur’an has not come down to us except by means of these very Imams [who are more worthy of following] by virtue of being more knowledgeable than us in [the sciences of] the abrogating and abrogated, the absolute and the conditional, the equivocal and the clarifying, the probabilistic and the plain, the circumstances surrounding revelation and their various meanings, as well as their possible interpretations and various linguistic and philological considerations, [not to mention] the various other ancillary sciences [involved in understanding the Qur’an] needed.

“Also, they took all of that from the students of the companions (tabi’in) who received their instruction from the companions themselves, who received their instructions from the Lawgiver himself, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, divinely protected from every mistake, who bore witness that the first three generations of Muslims would be ones of virtue and righteousness. Furthermore, the prophetic traditions have also reached us through their means given that they were also more knowledgeable than us through their means given that they were also more knowledgeable than those who came after them concerning the rigorously authenticated (sahih), the well authenticated (hasan), and the weak (da’if) channels of transmission, as well as the marfu’u, mursal, mutawatir, ahad, mu’dal and gharib transmissions.

“Thus, as far as this little band of men is concerned, there is only one of two possibilities: either they are attributing ignorance to Imams whose knowledge is considered by consensus to have reached human perfection as witnessed in several traditions of the truthful Lawgiver, upon him be prayers and peace, or they are actually attributing misguidance and lack of din to Imams who are all from the best of generations by the testimony of the magnificent Messenger himself, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Surely, it is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts in our breasts.

As for their saying to the one who imitates Malik, for example, “We say to you ‘Allah says’ or ‘the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, says’ and you reply, ‘Malik says’, or ‘Ibn al-Qasim says’, or ‘Khalil says’, for example,” our response is that the follower who says, “Malik says . . . etc.,” means that, “Malik says based on his deep understanding of the Word of Allah, or of the words of the Messenger, or of those firmly adhering to the actions of the companions, or of the tabi’in who understood clearly the Word of Allah and the word of the Messenger of Allah or took their example from the actions of His Messenger.” And the meaning of [a follower] saying “Ibn al-Qasim said . . .” is that he has [faithfully] transmitted what Malik said based on his understanding of the Word of Allah or of what Ibn al-Qasim himself understood from the word of Allah the Most Exalted. And the meaning of him saying, “Khalil said . . . .”, for example, is that he is transmitting only from those [Imams] aforementioned. As for Malik and Ibn al-Qasim, they are both Imams whose spiritual and judicial authority is agreed upon by unanimous consensus of this Umma; and they are both from the best of generations.

As for the one who leaves their leadership and says, “Allah said and His Messenger said . . . ,” he has relied solely on his own understanding despite the fact that he is incapable of having any precision in the verses and hadiths that he quotes since he is unable even to provide chains of transmission [with any authority], let alone that he lacks knowledge concerning the abrogated, the absolute and the conditional, the ambiguous and the clarifying, the apparent and the textual, the general and the specific, the dimensions of the Arabic and the cause for revelation, the various linguistic considerations, and other various ancillary sciences needed. So, consider for yourself which is preferable: the word of a follower who simply quotes the understanding of Malik, an Imam by consensus—or the word of this ignoramus who said “Allah said and His Messenger said . . . .” But it is not the sight that goes blind, but rather the hearts in our breasts.

Furthermore, know that the origin of this deviation is from the Dhahiriyya who appeared in Andalucia [Muslim Spain] and whose power waxed from a period until Allah obliterated all traces of them until this little band of men set about to revive their beliefs. Imam al-Barzuli said, “The first one ever to attack the Mudawwana was Sa’id bin al-Haddad .”

If you consider carefully the above-mentioned texts, you will realize that the one who censures you from following [the Imams] is truly a deviant. And I am using the word “deviant” to describe them only because the scholars [before me] have labelled this little band and their view (madhhab) as deviant. Moreover, you should know that those who condemn your adherence to the Imams have been fully refuted by Muhammad al-Khadir bin Mayyaba with the most piercing of refutations, and he himself called them, in his book, “the people of deviation and heterodoxy.” He called his book, Refuting the people of deviation of heterodoxy who attack the following [taqlid] of the Imams of independent reasoning, and I used to have a copy but no longer do. So, my brother, I seriously warn you from following the madhhab of these people and even from sitting in their company, unless there is an absolute necessity, and certainly from listening to anything they have to say, because the scholars have declared their ideas deviant. Ibn al-Hajj says in his book, al-Madkhal,

“Umar ibn al-‘Aziz said, ‘Never give one whose heart is deviant access to your two ears, for surely you never know what may find fixity in you.’”

I ask Allah to make you and me from those who listen to matters and follow the best of them.

Shaykh Murabtal Haaj, Mauritania

(c) Translator Shaykh Hamza Yusuf.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Habib Abdul Qadir Al-Saggaf

On April 4, 2010, this world lost a spiritual leader, Habib Abdul Qadir Al-Saggaf. Here is a biography of the Habib.

al-Qutb al-Habib Abdul Qadir Ibn Ahmad al-Saggaf
The spiritual Emperor of the People of the House and progeny of Alawi (may peace be upon Him) Abdul Qadir al-Saggaf, the son of Ahmad al-Saggaf (may Allah exalt His family), the living Pole of the AhlulBayt is the unsung Shaykh of al-Habib Umar bin Hafidh. He presently resides in Jeddah, where he has lived for many years.

Unlike his contemporaries, such as al-Habib Mashhur al-Haddad (may Allah show him mercy), Abdul Qadir al-Saggaf was less transient and thus received Shuyukh from all over the world; the Masters and Honourables of the family of Hashim in order they may acquire just a fragment of his light and wisdom. He is known not for innovations or controversies, but strictly for his unrivalled station amongst the People of the House and Trustees of Allah. It would be very unfortunate for a scholar to be unaware of Abdul Qadir al-Saggaf, which is not disobedience, but purely a lack of connection with such a profound human being.

There is not much to mention concerning this individual if we were to speak in earthly terms which does not seperate him from any other of the highest and most elite Islamic scholars; and in adherence to the example of the Messenger of Allah (May infinite blessings be sent to him and his family), the divulgences of the higher realm must be treated with care and prudence. Although it is very difficult to remain within those boundaries as the legends that navigate around the name of Abdul Qadir al-Saggaf involve the tendency to break the limits of reason. It would be wise instead to quote al-Habib Umar bin Hafidh, who epitomised his Guide’s rank, when famously in a gathering, he stood and pointed at the noble descendent and firmly declared “By Allah! There is no man in the universe like him! By Allah! There is no man in the universe like him!”

It is no secret that the station of Abdul Qadir al-Saggaf comes through his nearness to the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah bring us nearness to the final messenger in order we may honour him), dedicating his life to the example of the Messenger (Peace and infinite blessings be upon him) and gaining connection with his ancestor, the Emissary of God. However, carrying the preserved and unhampered lineage of al-Sayyid Abdur Rahman al-Saggaf (May Allah extol him) and al-Faqih al-Muqaddam (Peace be upon Him), it is obvious that his birth right was complemented with incomparable honour, that we are not worthy to question

A pillar which signifies ones nearness to Allah is humility, and Abdul Qadir al-Saggaf never fell short of this quality. He is renowned for his efforts to make people feel at ease, never feeling comfortable if the people around him were uncomfortable. He respected people, and thus he was respected, he asked for prayer and made sure his guests felt welcome – even his students. A major element of his honour is derived from his subservient nature and immense shame before Allah. May Allah exalt the people of humility.
In the mid 90’s, al-Qutb Abdul Qadir al-Saggaf was known to be very frail, with nearly half his body on the verge of paralysis. His current state is described only as…annihilated. His next of kin describe him as “gone…”, he does not speak anymore, and spent the latter part of the 90’s in a state of weeping and sleepless nights.
There is no vocal transmissions from the Sheikh anymore, only his unworldly presence. al-Qutb al-Habib Abdul Qadir is undoubtedly, a charismatic authority in every shape and form, in every realm, in every dimension. May Allah give us the strength to convey his honour well in’sha’Allah.

Another Mother of the Believers - On the Death of Maryam Bint Bwayba(wife of Murabit al Hajj)-by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (w/photos)

The land of Chinguett, more commonly known to the English-speaking world as Mauritania, is renowned for producing great scholars, saints, and erudite women of note. Scholars traveling to Mauritania have observed that “even their women memorize vast amounts of literature.” Mauritanian women have traditionally excelled in poetry, seerah, and genealogy, but some who mastered the traditional sciences were considered scholars in their own right.

Maryam Bint Bwayba, who memorized the entire Qur’an and the basic Maliki texts, was one such Mauritanian woman worthy of note. I had the honor of knowing Maryam, a selfless and caring woman, and the noble wife of Shaykh Murabit al-Hajj, having first met both of them twenty-five years ago in a small tent in the remote spiritual community of Tuwamirat in Mauritania.

My journey to that destination began four and a half years earlier, in 1980, at a bookstore in Abu Dhabi, where I met Shaykh Abdallah Ould Siddiq of the renowned Tajakanat clan. I knew immediately he was from West Africa, given the dir’ah, the distinct West African wide robe he was wearing, as well as the turban, a rare sight in the Gulf at that time. I had met scholars from West Africa when I was in Mali two years before and was interested in studying with them, so I asked the shaykh if he knew anyone who taught the classical Maliki texts in the traditional manner. He affirmed that he himself was a teacher of that very tradition, gave me his number, and said I was welcome anytime to come to his house for lessons. That began my Islamic education in earnest.

I started to study with Shaykh Abdallah Ould Siddiq in addition to my required classes at the Islamic Institute in Al-Ain. Unlike most Mauritanian teachers, he did not emphasize rote memorization or use of the wood slate known as the lawh. I studied directly from books. After a few years and much benefit from him and two other great Maliki jurists, Shaykh Shaybani and Shaykh Bayyah Ould Salik, my education took a major turn when I met a young electrician from the Massuma clan named Yahya Ould Khati. He was of the view that while these scholars were excellent, the truly illustrious man of his age was Murabit al-Hajj, who lived in a forgotten part of Mauritania, far away from civilization and the distractions of this world. He informed me that Shaykh Abdar Rahman, the son of Murabit al-Hajj, was now in the Emirates.

Shortly after, at the house of Shaykh Bayyah, an elder of the Massuma clan who had taken me under his wing and from whom I benefited greatly in my studies, I met Shaykh Abdar Rahman
Upon meeting him, I was struck by the otherworldliness of his presence, which is not unusual for Mauritanian scholars, but it was clearly pronounced in him. I remember thinking, “If this is the son, I must meet the father.” I also began studying with his close friend and companion, Shaykh Hamid, after I helped him get settled and, with the help of Shaykh Bashir Shaqfah, another of my teachers and at that time the head of the Office of Endowments at Al-Ain, secure a position of imam for him in the main mosque of Al-Ain, where I was serving as a muezzin. From Shaykh Hamid, I learned about the merits of memorization. Although I had studied several texts, and my Arabic was quite fluent by this time, Shaykh Hamid was adamant that without rote memorization, one was dependent upon books and did not really possess knowledge within oneself. Mauritanians, he told me, distinguish between daylight scholars and nighttime scholars. A daytime scholar needs light to read books to access knowledge, but a nighttime scholar can access that knowledge when the lights are out, through the strength of his memory and the retention of knowledge. Hence, he felt that I should start over.

I had studied Ibn Ashir, al-Risalah, and sections of Aqrab al-masalik privately; I had studied the early editions of al-Fiqh al-Maliki fi thawbihi al-jadid, which were used at the Institute; and I had studied hadith with Shaykh Ahmad Badawi, one of the great hadith scholars of Sudan. But I had put little to memory other than what I naturally retained. Shaykh Hamid procured a slate for me and began teaching me the basics again, but with rote memorization. It was humbling, but edifying, to see how this tradition has been carried on throughout the ages with these time-tested models.

I then became an imam in a small mosque near the large one, and was leading prayer for a community of mostly Afghan workers, who were sending their earnings back home to support families and the war effort against the Russians, who had invaded Afghanistan four years earlier.

It was then that I began to have dreams in which I saw a great man, whom I learned later was Murabit al-Hajj. One of those dreams included an elderly woman whom I had also never seen before.

**** ***** ****

I decided to leave my very comfortable and enjoyable life in the Emirates in 1984 and headed towards Mauritania via Algeria, where I planned on spending some months memorizing the Qur’an. I made this decision even though I was warned that there was a draught in Mauritania and living conditions were extremely harsh. Somehow, I felt compelled to go and nothing could deter me.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf as a young student

After spending some months with Sidi Bou Said at his madrassa in Tizi, Algeria, I traveled on to Tunisia, obtained a visa to Mauritania, and took a flight to Nouakchott, which lies on the Atlantic coast of the Sahara. I arrived in that capital city, with its extremely primitive conditions and vast slums that surrounded a small city center, with no addresses and no specific plan, other than to find Murabit al-Hajj.

I went to the marketplace and asked around if there was anyone from the Massuma clan, and was directed to a small shop where I met Abdi Salim, a very friendly man who was from the same branch of Massuma as my teacher, Shaykh Hamid. When I told Abdi Salim I wanted to find Murabit al-Hajj and study with him, his face lit up and he wholeheartedly endorsed the idea. He then took me to someone from Mukhtar al-Habib, the branch of the Massuma clan that Murabit al-Hajj was from, and they took me to the house of Mawlay al-Maqari al-Massumi, a small place made from tea boxes with open sewage in the back. Similar houses were all around, as far as the eye could see. Mawlay al-Maqari al-Massumi was one of the most hospitable and welcoming people I had ever met; I later learned he was loved by all who knew him. I stayed with him and his family for several days.

Providentially, Shaykh Abdar Rahman soon arrived from the Emirates to visit his mother and father and, not surprisingly, it was his wont to stay with Mawlay al-Maqari whenever in the capital. He would accompany me to his family’s school in Tuwamirat, but the journey required camels. A message was sent to the encampment of Murabit al-Hajj via the government radio announcements, which was how people in the capital communicated with the nomads in the desert. The message stated that Shaykh Abdar Rahman and Hamza Abdal Wahid (my given name when I converted and used at that time) would be arriving in the town of Kamur on such-and-such a date and were in need of camels there to take them to their village, Tuwamirat. We then set out on a rather unpleasant journey in a truck to Kamur, which was several hundred kilometers inland into the Sahara desert. The road at that time ended at Bou Talamit, and two-thirds of it was simply rough desert track worn down over time by loaded trucks and jeeps. It was the bumpiest, dirtiest, and most difficult road journey I had ever taken in my life.

After two grueling days, we arrived in a beautiful town known as Geru, which at the time had no technology, and the buildings there were all a lovely adobe. Hundreds of students studied at seven madrassas, called mahdhara in Geru. At night, with the exception of a few flashlights, candles, and kerosene lamps, all was dark so the Sahara night sky could be seen in all its stellar glory. The entire town was filled with the soothing sounds of the recitation of Qur’an and other texts.

We stayed with Shaykh Khatri, the brother of Murabit al-Hajj’s wife, Maryam, and a cousin of Murabit al-Hajj. While in Geru, I came to know a great saint and scholar, Sidi Minnu, who was already an old man at the time. He memorized all of the Hisn al-Hasin of Imam al-Jazari and recited it everyday. His other time was spent in praying for the entire Ummah. Once, we were sitting on the sand and he picked some up with his hand and said to me, “Never be far away from the earth, for this is our mother.” He then said something that struck me to the core: “I have never regretted anything in my entire life, nor have I ever wished for anything that I did not or could not have, but right now I wish that I was a young man so that I could accompany you on this great journey of yours to seek knowledge for the sake of God.”

After a few days, we set out for Kamur, which we had passed on our way to Geru, and then took camels and set out for Murabit al-Hajj; by nightfall we arrived in Galaga, a valley with a large lake that rises and lowers with the rainfall and the seasons. After breakfast the next morning, we set out for the upper region some miles from where Murabit al-Hajj’s clan was encamped.

*** *** ***

As we came into Tuwamirat, I was completely overwhelmed by its ethereal quality. It was the quintessential place that time forgot. The entire scene reminded me of something out of the Old Testament. Many of the people had never seen a white person before and the younger people had only heard about the French occupation, but never seen French people or other foreigners for that matter. I entered the tent of Murabit al-Hajj.

My eyes fell upon the most noble and majestic person I have ever seen in my life. He called me over, put his hand on my shoulder, welcomed me warmly, and then asked me, “Is it like the dream?” I burst into a flood of tears. I had indeed experienced a dream with him that was very similar to our actual meeting. He then went back to teaching. I was given a drink, and some of the students began to massage me, which I most appreciated, as my entire body ached from the difficult journey.

Murabit al-Hajj insisted that I stay with him in his tent and sleep next to him.
I soon came to know his extraordinary wife, Maryam Bint Bwayba. Completely attentive to my needs, she took care to see that I was comfortable, and provided me with a running commentary on the place and its people. Maryam was one of the most selfless people I have ever met. She spent most mornings with her leather milk container called a jaffafah, which she used to make buttermilk for her family, for the poorer students, and for the seemingly endless stream of guests that visited. She surrounded herself with wooden bowls to dispense the morning and evening milk collected from the cows, and she knew which cows were producing more milk and which ones were not. She was ably assisted in her domestic chores by her faithful and selfless servant, Qabula, who had been with her since childhood and who smiled all the time.

During my time there, I came to know Maryam as this noble and joyful woman, especially her nurturing nature. At one point, I became severely ill from the endemic malarial fevers in Mauritania, and Maryam took motherly care of me. One day I remarked that I was used to eating vegetables and that their diet of milk and couscous, with some cooked dried meat, was hard on me. Maryam immediately began giving me dates everyday before the meal and also asked some of the Harateen to plant carrots for me. Soon, she began preparing small cooked carrots and serving them with my meals.

Maryam was always in a state of remembrance of God. Her full name was Maryam Bint Muhammad al-Amin Ould Muhammad Ahmad Bwayba. At an early age, she married Sidi Muhammad Bin Salik Ould Fahfu al-Amsami, known as Murabit al-Hajj Fahfu. She was an extraordinary woman of great merit and virtue and was noted for her more than sixty years of service to the students of the Islamic College of Tuwamirat. Maryam grew up during a time of great hardship in Mauritania and told me that people were so poor that many simply covered their nakedness with leaves. Her father, Muhammad al-Amin, who was known as Lamana, was a scholar as well as a skilled horseman and expert marksman. Maryam always displayed the greatest pride in her father and related to me his many exploits. I once praised her husband, and she laughed and responded, “You should have seen my father!”

Maryam was in a state of complete submission to her Lord and always encouraged people to study. Her world was that of a small tribal province, but her spirit was truly universal. When she married Murabit al-Hajj, he was already recognized for his scholarship, mastery of Arabic, and complete disengagement from worldly matters. After he had married Maryam, her father said to him, “You might want to think about the means to a good livelihood now that you are married,” to which Murabit al-Hajj replied, “The means of this world are as multitudinous as the night stars to me, but I would not like to sully my soul with their pursuit.”

In their early years, Maryam studied several texts with her husband. She memorized the entire Qur’an in addition to the basic Maliki texts. Furthermore, she studied with him the entire al-Wadih al-Mubeen of Sidi Abdal-Qadir Ould Muhammad Salim with its hundreds of lines on matters of creed. She also read his extensive commentary, Bughyat al-Raghibeen ‘ala al-Wadih al-Mubeen, which she kept at her side for many years. She knew the text and its meaning by heart and was extremely adept in matters of creed. Maryam also memorized and practiced Imam al-Nawawi’s book of prayers and supplications known as al-Adhkar.

Those who have had the blessing of spending time in Tuwamirat would always see her sitting under her tent or the lumbar surrounded by her pots and milk bowls and her prayer beads. When new students arrived, she always asked about them, their parents, brothers, and sisters, and where they came from. She would laugh and say she had “luqba,” a Mauritanian colloquialism for “curiosity,” but in reality she delighted in the students and desired to make them feel at home. Incredible as it sounds, she never forgot anyone who had studied at the school and when they visited years later, she would call out their names and ask about their family members, name by name! When I first arrived, she had asked the names of all of my family members, which, given that they were Christian names, would have been harder for her to remember than Mauritanian names. But when I returned many years later, she asked about each of the members of my family, whose names I had mentioned to her only once. “Kayfa Elizabeth? Kayfa David? Kayfa John? Kayfa Troy? Kayfa Mariah?” I was completely stunned. I remarked to her that in another time she would have been a great muhaddith scholar, with her uncanny ability to recall names. The Western students and visitors who were fortunate enough to have lived there or even visited briefly all remember Maryam well. But more importantly, Maryam not only remembered each one of them, but she prayed for them by name. Many years ago, I took a friend, Abdal Razzaq Mukhtar, a Libyan who was living in Northern California, and his son Haytham to see Murabit al-Hajj. Even after many years had passed, Maryam never failed to ask each student from the West how “Abdar Razzaq and Haytham” were doing and then go on to recite a litany of names of other visitors who they might know and have news of their lives. Moreover, she sent many letters to those who visited Tuwamirat. The letters were usually accompanied by gifts from her. Students would receive a letter with some local perfume or incense or sometimes a key chain as a token of her love and remembrance of those people who had made such an arduous journey to visit her husband and his school. She even sent me some of her butter ghee that lasted for a few years in my house. She left an indelible mark on all of us fortunate and blessed enough to have spent even an hour with her. It was an hour neither she nor her visitor would ever forget.

*** *** ***

I first saw Maryam in one of the dreams I had in 1983 in the Emirates, a year before I actually met her. One day, I was sitting in the tent studying with Murabit al-Hajj, when I saw her in the background and realized she was the person in my dreams.

The last time I saw Maryam, her world had changed considerably in her lifetime, but there was something unchanging about her. Despite the fashionable colored milhafahs that the women of the clan began to wear, she clung to the old-fashioned ways of her ancestors, and wore the traditional blue-dyed nilah that left a ghostly shade of indigo on the skin of the women, as well as the men who wore turbans made of the same material. And regardless of the outward difficulties of her life, she remained one of the most happy and joyful people I have ever known.

Maryam had always hoped to make the pilgrimage but felt obliged to first take care of her responsibilities, to her family and the school that she felt were binding upon her. She was never in the limelight, but the blue image of her milhafa could be seen in the background of meetings when dignitaries and visitors would come and pay their respects to Murabit al-Hajj,
always in service to all. Once, when a group of Western students visited, one of the women asked Murabit al-Hajj for his prayers and he replied that they should also ask Maryam for her supplication as her prayers were ones that, insha’ Allah, God listened to and would answer. Although she was not famous like her husband, nor noted for any distinguished achievements, she was a luminary in her own right. Her son once told me, “She was one of the hidden ones, far more learned and accomplished than the people who knew her or lived with her realized.” I couldn’t agree more. In many ways, the Quranic verse about Maryam the mother of Jesus “and she was among the righteously pious ones” aptly suites our beloved Maryam bint Bwayba. When I told her brother, Khatry, she was like a mother to me, he replied, “She was a mother to all the believers.” No words could be more befitting.

Maryam Bint Bwayba, the beloved wife of the great scholar and teacher Murabit al-Hajj Ould Fahfu, and beloved selfless servant of the students of sacred knowledge at the mahdhara of Murabit al-Hajj, died after a brief but intense illness at approximately six in the evening on Sunday, the 15th of Rabi al-Thani, 1430 AH. In her honor, we are establishing the Maryam Bin Bwayba Scholarship Fund for Women, with all proceeds to be used for scholarships for qualified women in financial need attending Zaytuna’s educational programs. Donations should be sent to Zaytuna Institute, 2070 Allston Way, Suite 300, Berkeley, California, 94704, and the Memo line of checks should be marked as “Maryam Bint Bwayba Scholarship Fund.” For those who wish to send donations to the family of Murabit al-Hajj, please call Zaytuna at 510.549.3454

Retreat(Khalwa)room of Imam Muhammad al Jazuli

Sidi Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli al-Simlali (died 1465) was of the Berber tribe of the Jazulah who lived in the Sus area which is in Morocco between the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlas Mountains. He is especially famous for compiling the Dala'il al-Khayrat, an extremely popular Muslim prayer book and he is known by many Moroccans as one the seven saints of Marrakesh.

He studied locally and then went to the Madrasat As-Saffarîn in Fez where his room is still pointed out to visitors today. In Fes he memorized texts in the Maliki Madhab such as Ibn al-Hajib’s Mukhtasr al-Far’i and Sahnun’s Al-Mudawwana al-Kubra. He also met the famous jurist and mystic Sidi Ahmad Zarruq. After settling a tribal feud he left the area and spent the next forty years in Makkah, Medina and Jerusalem. After his long journey, he returned to Fez where he completed the prayer book Dala'il al-Khayrat.

He was initiated into the Shadhili Tariqa by a descendant of Moulay Abu Abdallah Mohammed Amghar the sheikh of the Banu Amghar. He spent fourteen years in Khalwa (seclusion)in the room shown above. His litany was 114,000 ‘basmalah's’ everday and three complete recitals of the Dalail Khayrat and a quarter of the Quran. He did this everyday and night for fourteen years. Shaykh Ahmad Baba al-Massufi al-Timbukti said that when he came out people made tawbah just by seeing him.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Al-Yazid al-Buzidi Bujrafi

Al-Yazid al-Buzidi Bujrafi is a shaykh of the Alawi-Darqawi order, a branch of the Shadhili order. He lives at his Zawiya in Zaghanghan, Nador. He was born as al-Yazid Bujrafi in Bani Shikar, in the Rif region of North-East Morocco, in 1925. He memorised the Quran under the tutelage of his father, who in 1934 took the 19-year old al-Yazid to Sidi Muhammadi Bil-Hajj, Sheikh of the Alawi order, to take the litanies of the order from him.

Sheikh Muhammadi instructed al-Yazid to continue his spiritual instruction under Sheikh Moulay Suleiman ibn al-Mahdi, also of Bani Shikar, whom al-Yazid maintained a close relationship with until his death in 1970, marrying his daughter and serving as Imam in his Zawiya. It was Moulay Suleiman who changed al-Yazid's name to al-Buzidi, in reference to two great masters of the Darqawi brotherhood, Muhammad al-Buzidi al-Ghimari, disciple of Moulay al-Arabi al-Darqawi; and Muhammad ibn al-Habib Hamu al-Buzidi, Sheikh of Ahmad al-Alawi, founder of the Alawi order.

Following Moulay Suleiman's death in 1970, Sheikh al-Buzidi assumed leadership of the brotherhood in Morocco, and shortly afterwards established a new Zawiya in Zaghanghan, Nador, which remains the head Zawiya of the brotherhood in Morocco to his day.

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.

Shaykh Muhammad Khatry ould Bwayba

Shaykh Khatri's the brother of Murabit al-Hajj’s late wife, Maryam(May God have mercy on her)and a cousin and student of Murabit al-Hajj. Shaykh Khatry was one of the teachers of Hamza Yusuf. He is a man about whom Shaykh Hamza Yusuf said "knows the entire Qur'an like al-Fatiha". He spent nine months in the late 90's in the San Francisco Bay Area, teaching Maliki fiqh and Ash`ari `aqida to numerous students from the many mosques in the area. During his stay in the Bay Area, Muslims took advantage of both his knowledge and his light, spending time in private association with him as well as in classes and listening to his Jumu`ah sermons

Syed Muhammad Iqbal al-Abbaasi al-Qaadiri

Syed Muhammad Iqbal al-Abbaasi al-Qaadiri
He was the keeper of the Noble Rawda, the piece of Paradise on Earth, for more than 60 years. He was one of the very few to clean inside the Noble Chamber of The Messenger of God(pbuh). He passed away March 27th 2009

How to wrap a turban( from sunnipath.com)

There are several styles of tying the turban of which I am familiar with four.

Firstly, we should note, as you mentioned there are many hadiths dealing with the virtue of wearing a turban (although, I believe non have reached the level of Sahih, however, it is established that the turban was the sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah upon him and his family). The term you must come familiar with is the adthabah, or tail, referring to the ends of the turban. This will come up in most styles of tying the turban.

Style 1, 2: Tail hanging over the back or right shoulder, or 2 tails, one over the right shoulder and the other over the back.

The most common you probably have seen worn is the style favored by Tablighi Jamat and those of India/Pakistan. This is with either one or both adhabah, hanging over the right shoulder or between the shoulder blades down the back.

You tie this by holding one adhabah of the turban clenched between your teeth (I have always favored turbans about 5 ft. in length, although you could choose one longer or shorter depending upon your preference). The adhabah should hang over the right shoulder and will be about 1.5 ft in length. You then take the other end and bring it behind your head over your right shoulder (you should have on a good sturdy kufi that won't slip). You then cross it over the front of your head near the middle of the kufi and begin winding it around the head in a criss cross manner. You can keep either the turban flat, or round it, depending on what style you favor. When you get to the end, you simply tuck the remaining adhabah into the folds of the turban. Note: in the beginning it will take a lot of practice to determine the length of the first adhabah that is appropriate for the size of turban you are wearing and the size of your head. It takes a lot of patient practice and consistancy to get it right.

After this, you let the adhabah you were holding in your teeth out, and simply pull it to the back if you want it to hang there, or you can leave it where it was if you want it to hang over the right shoulder.

Style 2: if you want 2 adhabahs, simply shorten the first adhabah when beginning to tie your turban, and when you get to the final wrap, the second adhabah should end near the back of the head. Simply tuck a small part of the adhabah, and the rest of it will drape over the back so that you have 2 tails, insha'Allah.

Style 3: No adhabah

This is the style favored by Northern and Central Moroccans. This is accomplished by holding the first adhabah over the forehead with the right hand, and begin wrapping the adhabah around the head and bring it over the adhabah. Then continue to wrap it until you get to the end and then simply tuck it.

Style 4: The Muhaniq

This is the style favored by North Africans bordering the Sahara, and those of all of West Africa. It is the style I personally favor and is the style favored by Imam Malik and today's Malikis as well as the Hanabali madhab.

This style is a bit more complex but can be achieved with a lot of practice. Firstly, again the adhabah is clenched in the teeth over the right shoulder. For this style, you will probably need a bit more turban material, i.e. 7 or 8 ft.

After holding the adhabah, you bring the turban over your the top of your kufi and bring it under the chin (the haniq, thus the name of the turban style and those who wear it)and over the head again with the adhabah still clenched in the teeth and it is over the part under the chin. At this point there is a meeting of the turban over the top of your head.

You then carefully begin to wrap the turban. When you get to the end, you tuck the remaining adhabah into the fold of the turban.

You next, release the adhabah in your teeth and tuck it under the part of the turban under the chin and pull. You then push the front of the turban up slightly to reveal your forehead (important in the Maliki madhab to have a valid salat). Next, pull down slightly on the part of the turban draped under the chin. Finally, pull at the back part of the draped part and pull to the back of the head to close off that which is exposed in the back.

You will notice that the front is draping slightly over the mouth which is natural.

Finally, when choosing material I recommend cotton gauze since it is the softest cotton and I found the easiest to work with. It is light, so you may want to experient with other types of cotton. But remember, it takes a lot of practice and consistant wearing to get it right. May Allah reward you for striving to
follow the sunnah.

Jazakum Allahu Khayr

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