In this series, Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed of South Africa will take us on a journey through the lives and biographies of some of the most celebrated and well known scholars of the twentieth and twenty – first century. These historical accounts will provide us with refreshing insights and lessons, and motivate us to follow in the footsteps of our pious predecessors.
In this eighth episode of the The Trodden Path series, Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed writes on the life of Shaykh Yusuf ibn Ismail Al-Nabhani.
Shaykh Yusuf ibn Ismail Al-Nabhani 1265-1350=1849-1932 (Palestine)
Yusuf ibn Ismail ibn Yusuf ibn Ismail ibn Muhammad Nasir Al-Deen Al-Nabhani was a scholar, a poet, an author and a Qadi whose lineage links up with Banu Nabhan, a Palestinian Bedouin tribe who settled in the town of Ijzim near Haifa in North Palestine. He was born there in 1849 (1265) where he grew up.
He studied the Quraan under his father who was a righteous scholar and a meticulous memorizer of the Quraan whom Allah blessed, even in his old age, by maintaining all his senses and he spent most of his time in various acts of worship. His father’s daily practice was to read one third of the Quraan and thus completed the Quraan thrice every week.
Shaykh Yusuf’s father sent him to Cairo, Egypt to study. For six years 1866-1872 (1283-1289), he studied at the Al-Azhar under illustrious and accomplished scholars and masters in the Shariah sciences. One of them, Shaykh Ibrahim Al-Saqaa (d. 1298) was probably the leading scholar at the time and was known for his precise understanding. Shaykh Yusuf spent about three years studying under him, during which he read the two commentaries Al-Tahrir and Al-Minhaj of Shaykh Zakariya Al-Ansaari together with their marginalia by Al-Sharqawi and Al-Bujayrimi. His other teachers were:
- Shaykh Al-Sayyid Muhammad Al-Damnahuri (d. 1869-1286)
- Shaykh Ibrahim Al-Zurru Al-Khaleeli Al-Shafi’ (d. 1870-1287)
- Shaykh Hasan Al-Adawi Al-Maliki (d. 1881-1298)
- Shaykh Abdul Hadi Naja Al-Abyari (d. 1888-1305)
- Shaykh Shams Al-Deen Muhammad Al-Anbabi (d. 1908-1326)
- Shaykh Abdul Qadir Al-Rafiie Al-Hanafi (d. 1905-1323)
- Shaykh Yusuf Al-Barqawi Al-Hanbali
After graduating, he returned to Ijzim, Palestine where he held various courses and lessons in his home town. He travelled frequently to Beirut and Damascus where he met prominent ulama. One of the leading scholars he met was Shaykh Mahmood Effendi Al-Hamzawi with whom he read the beginning of Sahih Al-Bukhari and obtained a general written Ijazah. He is presumed to have met Shaykh Abdullah ibn Idris Al-Sanusi, Shaykh Muhammad Abu Al-Khair Abideen, Shaykh Husain ibn Muhammad Al-Habashi, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Abdullah Al-Khaani and other renowned scholars.
He went to Istanbul twice where he worked for several years and worked as the editor of the Al-Jawaaib newspaper and proof read some Arabic books. His monthly salary was ten pounds for editing and proof reading for about two to three hours daily. The newspaper’s owner was very sad when Shaykh Yusuf planned to leave this job for his new position as a Qadi in Iraq. He offered him the chance to work as his partner or accept an increase. Shaykh Yusuf refused both these offers.
Shaykh Yusuf left Istanbul for the first time for Iraq and went to Kawi Sanjaq, a district in Mosul. Thereafter he returned to Istanbul. In (1300), he left for the second time when he was appointed as the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court in Latakia, a Mediterranean Sea port.
After five years of distinguished service, he was transferred to the position as Chief Judge in Jerusalem, Al-Quds. Eight months later, he was promoted in1888 (1305) to Chief Justice of Beirut, Lebanon where he remained for about twenty years.
Some of his books are:
- Riyad Al-Jannah fi Azhkaar Al-Kitab wa Al-Sunnah
- Jami’ Karamaat Al-Awliya
- Al-Majmuaat Al-Nabhaniyah fi Al-Madaaih Al-Nabawiyah
- Wasaail Al-Wusool ila Shamaail Al-Rasul
- Afdal Al-Salawaat ala Sayid Al-Saadaat
- Tahzheeb Al-Nufoos
- Hujat Allah ala Al-Aalimeen
- Al-Fath Al-Kabir
- Nujoom Al-Muhtadeen
- Al-Sabiqaat Al-Jiyaad fi Madh Sayid Al-Ibad
- Al-Sharaf Al-Muabad li Aal Muhammad
- Al-Anwaar Al-Muhammadiyah
- Khulasat Al-Kalam fi Tarjeeh Deen Al-Islam
- Hadi Al-Mureed ila Tareeq Al-Asaanid
- Al-Fadaail Al-Muhammadiyah
- Al-Asaalib Al-Badia’t fi Fadl Al-Sahaba wa Iqna’ Al-Shia’
- Muntakhab Al-Sahihayn
- Al-Ahadith Al-Arbaeen fi Fadl Al-Jihad wa Al-Mujahideen
- Arbaoun Hadithan fi Arbaeen Sighatan fi Salat ala Al-Nabi
- Al-Bashaair Al-Imaniyah fi Al-Mubashiraat Al-Manaamiyah
- Dalil Al-Tujaar ila Akhlaaq Al-Akhyaar
- Al-Dalalaat Al-Wadihaat Sharh Dalaail Al-Khayraat
- Hizb Al-Awliya Al-Arbaeen Al-Mustaghitheen bi Sayid Al-Mursaleen
- Husn Al-Shir’ati fi Mashruiyat Salat Al-Zhuhri izha Taddadat Al-Jumuah
- Irshaad Al-Hayaraa fi Tahzheer Al-Muslimeen min Madaris Al-Nasara
- Ithaf Al-Muslim bi Ahadith Al-Targheeb wa Al-Tarheeb min Al-Bukhari wa Muslim
- Jawaahir Al-Bihaar fi Fadaail Al-Nabi Al-Mukhtar
- Mithal Al-Na’l Al-Shareef
- Mufarrij Al-Kuroob wa Mufarrih Al-Quloob
- Al-Nazhm Al-Badi’ fi Mowlid Al-Shafi’
- Qurrat Al-Ayn min Al-Baydawi wa Al-Jalalayn
- Rafu’ Al-Ishtibah fi Istihalat Al-Jihat ala Allah
- Al-Tahzheer min Itikhaazh Al-Suwar wa Al-Tasweer
- In some of his works he strongly criticized Ibn Taymiyah, Ibn Qayim, Muhammad Abduh, Jamal Al-Deen Al-Afghani and Rashid Rida. He was specifically critical of Ibn Taymiyah’s fatwa affirming direction and place to Allah, but he also praised and applauded Imam Ibn Taymiyah’s book Al-Sarim Al-Maslul ala Shaatim Al-Rasul.
- There are various treatises in Hadith in his handwriting in the archives in Rabat, Morocco.
After retiring, he engaged in writing and worshiping and he traveled to Madinah where he lived for a while.
He returned to Beirut where he passed away in the beginning of Ramadaan in 1932 (1350). One of his last students, Shaykh Husayn Usayran, passed away in July 2005 and was about 97 years old.
Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed is a well respected South African Islamic scholar who lives in Pretoria, South Africa. He studied at the King Saud University in Riyadh and the faculty of Shariah at the Islamic University of Madina. He has attained a M.A. in Islamic Studies from the University of South Africa. Through his extensive travels he has met and benefited from many senior scholars from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, India, Turkey etc. He has received numerous Ijazahs from the various scholars that he has met, studied with and served. He is currently a senior educator at the al – Ghazzali College in Pretoria.
He has authored two books:
- Muslim Scholars of the 20th Century.
- Muslim Scholars of the 21st Century.
He was one of the translators of Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al – Maliki’s work: The Way of the True Salaf.