If I see today, it’s only because I stand on the shoulder of giants.
Today we lay to rest another giant, one of the last remaining links to a great generation of scholars, who all feel but a distant memory in the hearts of the Muslims. The great Hadith scholar Shaykh Muhammad Amin Saraj departed from this world on Friday at the age of 90/91 years old in Istanbul. He was one of the last remaining inheritors who took directly from the rich scholarly tradition of the Ottomans.
Surely to Allah we belong and to Him we all shall return. There is no might nor power except by Allah.
Shaykh Amin Saraj was born in the year 1929/30 in Tokat in central Turkey, a city known for its deep scholarship and knowledge. He began memorizing the Quran from a young age with his father who was prisoned for six-months for teaching the Quran in Arabic.
Journeying Through Darkness to Find Light
Shaykh Amin once said, “In my childhood, it was forbidden for us to read the Quran. My father and my grandfather were imprisoned for this reason. We’ve passed those tests. Now Allah has brought us to light. Now there is a President in our country who reads the Quran.” It was only befitting that when they laid Shaykh Amin to rest today, that same president would recite the Fatiha over him in front of the thousands in attendance.
After committing the Quran to memory, he travelled to Istanbul to study at the feet of some of the most important scholars of his time such as Shaykh Muhammad Khusrou Efendi, Shaykh Ali Haydhar Efendi, and others.
Carrying the Torch of the Great Ottoman Scholars
After his time in Istanbul, Shaykh Amin travelled to Egypt at the age of 20 years old. It is in Egypt that he studied under his main teacher, the erudite scholar Shaykh Mohammed Zahid Al Kawthari and the final Shaykh Al-Islam of the Ottoman empire Mustafa Sabri Efendi. After approximately eight years of intense study, Shaykh Amin returned to Istanbul in 1958.
Upon his return, Shaykh Amin followed in the footsteps of many great scholars that came before him and began to teach at one of the intellectual hearts of the Ottoman empire: The Fatih Mosque. He taught over 2000 students and raised a generation of scholars that have been vital to the revival of the Islamic sciences in modern Turkey.
Great Openings Through Consistency and High Aspirations
His students today are responsible for leading dozens of projects that are reviving the Islamic sciences in Turkey, once again and reestablishing itself as a beacon of Prophetic light for the Muslim around the world.
After nearly 60 years of service at the Fatih Mosque, he stopped teaching in 2018 due to his old age and deteriorating health.
He was known for his vast knowledge, beautiful smile, and the gentle manner in which he received all. Not only did students of knowledge and scholars love him, but individuals from all walks of life and backgrounds had a deep rooted love for the Shaykh.
For years, he sat in the Imam’s room at Fatih Mosque after Jumua prayer smiling and spending time with all those who visited him. Everyone that visited the Shaykh would depart in a state of great happiness and tranquility.
Whenever someone addressed him as hocam (a Turkish word that means my teacher), he would respond saying, “You only address us as hocam because you have not seen the scholars that we saw.”
As the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him has been reported to have said, “Allah does not take away knowledge by removing it from men, but takes it away by taking away the learned.”
Our Final Condolences
We have lost a giant of our tradition. Shaykh Amin Saraj was an ocean of knowledge and wisdom that stood as firm as a mountain in the face of those that sought to harm Islam. We offer our condolences to Shaykh Saraj’s family, friends, and to all those who studied and benefited from him.
May Allah have mercy on our beloved Shaykh Muhammad Amin Saraj and allow him to be of the neighbors of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, in the highest levels of paradise.