Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The (undesirable) Effects of Television

Shaykh Hamza mentioning a miracle of Dr. Umar Abd-Allah that he himself witnessed

Biography of Sidi Fudul al-Huwari By Hamza Yusuf.

One of the great traditions of Islam is what is referred to as “tabaqat” literature. It is essentially biographical material that highlights the lives and qualities of the great sages, scholars, ascetics, and saints of Islam. The earliest biographical literature, such as Ibn S’ad’s Tabaqat, pertains to the lives of the Prophet’s Companions. The benefit of reading such literature is feeling one’s own meager existence when compared with the luminaries of the past; it also rouses ourselves from our heedlessness in order to set out as those before us, who left, for those to follow, their footprints on that ancient and well-trodden path of purification and ensuing illumination. In light of this, I hope to share with my readers certain highlights and qualities I have witnessed and come to know of in the people whom God has blessed me with knowing and benefitting from. The primary purpose here is to let those who have not been afforded such opportunities, but still love to hear the stories of the righteous, experience vicariously their presence. The scholars say, “When the righteous are remembered, grace descends.” That such luminaries still exist is testimony to the continued spiritual power and effectiveness of our Prophet’s teaching, peace and blessings of God be upon him. God has blessed this community with such men and women until the end of time, and even in this dark time of spiritual sloth and vanity they nurture those who come to know and love them. When the pleasures and the pastimes of the ego have blinded so many of us from the path of purity and piety that leads to salvation and sanctification, they reveal themselves as cogent reminders to those who will listen that the world is temporal, fleeting as dissipating before our very eyes and we too shall follow.

The first is that of the great Moroccan sage, scholar, and saint, Sidi Fudul al-Huwari. Though we make no claims about people’s ranks with God – as God alone knows the hearts – rather, we assume their high spiritual station from our good opinion of them based upon their outward noble character and exemplary piety.

Born around the turn of the twentieth century, Sidi Fudul al-Huwari grew up in Fes
and served as an imam in the large mosque next to Bab Boujloud,
and also taught Ibn Ashir and other basic texts in the Bou Inania Mosque.

In 1978, when he was still quite vibrant and able to teach, I visited him for the first time. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was the beginning of a powerful and wonderful relationship that would last for over twenty years and leave an indelible mark on me that I feel to this day. On that first visit, he explained how, from being a barely literate craftsman, he became an imam and a scholar: One day while still in his teens and busy at his job in a shop, a shaykh, whom he had seen on many occasions walking to the Qarawiyyin, stopped and stood outside his workplace, watching him. Eventually Sidi Fudul realized he was being watched; the shaykh then asked the shop’s keeper if the young man could come with him. The man obliged, and the shaykh took Sidi Fudul to the Qarawiyyin and instructed him to sit in the outer circle and simply listen. The shaykh explained that not much would make sense to him but to be patient. He did this for some time, and, soon enough, the lessons did begin to make sense. After many years of study, Sidi Fudul became a scholar in his own right. The shaykh’s name was Sidi Muhammad bin al-Habib,
and Sidi Fudul later became his leading student and a commentator of his diwan of mystical poetry. Sidi Fudul was himself a poet of some note.

On one visit, he gave me the original handwritten manuscripts of his commentaries on his shaykh’s diwan, which I still treasure. He also gave me a teaching license (ijazah) in person, orally, and then later had his student, Maulay Hasan Lamdaghari, send me a written one. Sidi Fudul was given the mantle of his own shaykh and was recognized as a spiritual adept but declined to accept it. He once told me, “I know my limits, and I could never fill the shoes of Shaykh Ibn al-Habib.”

Shaykh Bennani, a great scholar and qadi from Fes, told me, “Sidi Fudul is not one of the great scholars. His outward knowledge, while competent, is not vast like the great scholars, but he knows what most of the great scholars do not. He knows his Lord.” By contemporary standards, however, he is a notable scholar of the later part of the twentieth century. He loved to comment on the Qur’an, and had a special affinity for the Verse of Light, which he commented on countless times, always with new insights. His lectures on Ibn Ashir were some of the most well-attended and popular lectures in Fes among common people.

Sidi Fudul was a beautiful man, who symbolized a Morocco that is fast disappearing. He was a true gentleman, erudite, learned, forbearing, and above all, he was in a constant state of submission to his Lord. He once lamented to me that modern-day Morocco had drifted far from the Islam of their past, and he warned me of the new trends of Islamic revival, which he saw as having more to do with politics than with the spiritual center of Islam. In his earlier life, Sidi Fudul had been active in the politics of Fes, driven not by the utopian fantasies of some modern Islamists but rather by a sense of civic duty. He once said to me, “Calling other Muslims innovators is an innovation.”

Once, late in his life, I visited him when he was in a coma, lying on his bed. He had lost both his hearing and sight at this stage. His daughter, Fatima, at that time in her seventies, was looking after him. We greeted him, and Maulay Hasan said to me, “He cannot hear anymore.”

At that point, Sidi Fudul spoke up: “Give me a moment. I am coming to visit.”

A few minutes later, he asked to be helped to sit upright, and we complied. He then asked for his eyeglasses. Fatima brought them and put them on for him. He suddenly opened his eyes wide, scanned the room, and proclaimed, “Yasin!” He then began to recite Sura Yasin, the thirty-sixth chapter of the Qur’an. We all joined him in the recitation. When we finished, he began to tell us of wonders he had been experiencing in his state. He also conveyed to us that he had exhausted all of the demons and that they had given up on sowing doubt in his heart about his Lord. This memory of my last meeting with Sidi Fudul forever abides in my heart.

Sidi Fudul spent his life acquiring and then teaching the sciences of Islam. He was a well-respected scholar in Fes and present at the gatherings of notables. He had a gentle character, and should your eye fall upon his face, you were reminded of your Lord. His tongue was always moist with the remembrance of God, and he always had time for anyone who needed advice or to know a legal ruling. He had a small spice shop in the market near his house, and he could be found there reciting Qur’an or reading a book of knowledge while waiting for his provision. Shaykh Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki, the great Meccan scholar, whenever he visited Morocco, would always visit Sidi Fudul in his house in Fes. Just as birds of a feather flock together, saints find sanctuary in one another’s company.


Copyright: From the forthcoming book, Meetings with Mountains, by Peter Sanders.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Spirit of RIS 2011

Sh. Hamza Yusuf at Guiding Light Islamic Center

Sh. Hamza Yusuf at RIS Knowlege Retreat in Toronto

Shaykh Uthman don Fodio by Sultan Muhammad Bello

He was the Shaykh of Islam, the most learned among the scholars, the regal erudite, perpetual deliverer, the scholar of humanity, the one who realized the highest stations, Abu Muhammad Sa`d Uthman ibn Muhammad ibn Uthman ibn Salih ibn Harun ibn Muhammad Ghurtu ibn Muhammad Jubbu ibn Muhammad Sanbu ibn Maasiran ibn Ayyub ibn Buba Baba ibn Abu Bakr ibn Musa Jokoli ibn Imam Danbu. He was famous as Dan Fuduye’. He was my father. The protected friends of Allah (al-awliya) foretold of his coming before his appearance… From that is what was related from sound narrators on the authority of Umm Hani al-Fulani, the righteous saintly women when she said: “There will appear in this region of the land of the Blacks, a waliy from among the protected friends of Allah. He will renew the deen, revive the Sunna and establish the religion. The fortunate people will follow him and his remembrance will be spread throughout the horizons. The common people and the elite will obey his commands. Those connected to him will be known as the Jama`aat. Among their signs is that they will not heard cattle, as is the custom of the Fulani. Whoever encounters that time should follow him.” In short, many of the protected friends of Allah recognized him and informed us of his affair even before his appearance and at the time of his appearance as well.
Realize that this shaykh was reared from the time he was young to invite people to Allah. The Shehu said: “As for as the matter of protected friendship with Allah is concerned, for the most that I know about myself is that Allah ta`ala had established me in a spiritual presence which manifested from a divine state, from the time I was a young boy up until the time I reached the age of thirty-one years. I was seized by an instantaneous spiritual magnetic gravitational orbit that emerged from the lights of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, due to the baraka of sending blessings upon him. I was extracted up until I was in the very presence of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, which caused me to continuously weep. In that presence I had an intense desire to recite the poem by Abu Sufyan ibn al-Haarith, may Allah be pleased with him, where he eulogized the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace after his death. Then the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace ordered me to recite it in his presence, so I began to recite it… When I had recited the poem and reached the point in the poem where I said: ‘And he guided us and now we do not fear misguidance among us, while the Messenger is our guide on the Path’; the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace then said: “Stop there.” So I stopped. He then gave me the good news by his words to me: “I am your guide on the Path of the religion, for you will not go astray.” This good news was better to me than the entire world and what it contained.”

Sultan Muhammad Bello

Mawlid at the home of Sidi Faysal with Habaib and Tijanis of Makkah