Being with Allah and His Messenger ﷺ – Habib Umar

* Courtesy of Muwasala

Sayyidi al-Habib `Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) reflects upon the meaning of being with Allah and His Messenger ﷺ.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “A person is with the one they love.” Thus you can gauge your love for Allah and His Messenger by gauging how much you are with them.

The Prophet was in the highest state of being with his Lord. For that reason he said: “I am nothing but a slave. I eat as a slave eats and I sit as a slave sits.” Sayyiduna Ibrahim says in the Qur’an that it is his Lord: “Who created me and it is He who guides me; Who gives me food and drink.” He was constantly with Allah, even when he ate and drank. One of the knowers of Allah said: “For twenty years people think I have been speaking to them, when in reality I have been speaking to Allah.” If you speak for His sake, in accordance with His Sacred Law and your heart is present with Him, then in reality you are speaking to Him.

The Companions and the pious people of this Ummah were constantly with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ in all their states. One of the Companions repeated three times, addressing the Prophet  ﷺ: “I love Allah and His Messenger!” He replied ﷺ on each occasion: “You are with the one you love.”

Sayyiduna Abu’l-`Abbas al-Mursi said: “If the Prophet ﷺ was absent from me for an instant I would not consider myself a Muslim.”

Habib `Umar bin `Abd al-Rahman al-`Attas asked: “How can he be absent from us when he is the source of our existence?”

In other words, without him, we do not exist.

Imam al-Haddad said:

و لي من رسولِ اللهِ جَدِّي عِنَايَةٌ    و وَجْهٌ و إِمْدَادٌ و إِرْثٌ و إِيثَارُ

 

‘I receive from my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah, care, status, assistance, inheritance and preferential treatment.’

These people reached the highest stations of being with the Beloved ﷺ .

So do not claim to love him and then depart from him. Are you with him in emulating his character? If you truly loved him you would be with him. Do you think being with him is only in the next life? That which will be manifest in the next life is only that which is stored up in this life. If you want to be with him there, be certain that you have to be with him here.

How long have you been with your lower self (nafs)? It calls you to base things while Allah and His Messenger call you to lofty things. Your lower self calls you to the Fire, while they call you to Paradise. Being with Allah and His Messenger is better than being with your lower self. Your lower self is the thing which cuts you off most from being with Allah and His Messenger and it is the biggest veil between you and your Lord.

Some people reach high stations in closeness to the Beloved ﷺ before the month of Rabi al Awwal is over. If you are not going to attain it in this month, then when?

The History of Mawlid in Kenya – Sharrif Assad Ahmed al Hussaini

* Courtesy of Al-Huda TV Kenya

In this video interview, Sharrif Assad Ahmed al Hussaini discusses the history and development of Mawlid in Kenya. The Mawlid celebration was initiated in Kenya through the Ba Alawi family and spiritual order. Sharrif Assad shares how the Ba Alawi families in Kenya ensured that Mawlid recitations and celebrations spread to the various cities in Kenya. These celebrations have being occurring in Kenya for more than 100 years. This year marked the 100th year of Mawlid being celebrated in the city of Malindi. Additionally, Sharrif Assad also discusses how the Mawlid celebrations have evolved into social welfare events where thousands of people have access to health, education and welfare services at the Mawlid events.

Announcing the SeekersGuidance Youth Certificate

The Etiquette (Adab) of the Visitation (Ziyara) of the Prophet ﷺ – Dr. Hisham A. Hellyer

Bismillah

The Sacred Signs of God

The sages and scholars of this religion have agreed that veneration for the sacred signs (sha’ir) of God is from the virtues of the heart – likewise, lack of proper etiquette (adab) with those signs is evidence of an unhealthy heart. Allah says in His Book: “If someone venerates the sacred signs of Allah, this is truly a sign of piety in the heart”. (Qur’an 22:32)

The scholars note that from among these signs are the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the house of God (the Ka’aba in al-Makka al-Mukarrama), the Divine Word (the Qur’an), the five daily prayers (al-salawat al-khams), and the month of Ramadan. Without the Prophet, we would know nothing of the reality of any of these things. There are many evidences to note in this regard from the Qur’an and the Sunna – for this tract, it suffices to present this sacred tradition (hadith qudsi) which is mentioned in the compendium of authentic narrations, compiled by Imam al-Bukhari: The Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily Allah, the Most High has said: ‘Whosoever shows enmity to a friend (wali) of Mine, then I have declared war against him. And My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more loved to Me than the religious duties I have obligated upon him. And My servant continues to draw near to me with supererogatory (nafil) deeds until I Love him. When I Love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to seek refuge with Me, I would surely grant him refuge.’

The Excellence of the Prophet ﷺ

It is the only via the Prophet ﷺ that we know what those religious duties are. It is only via the Prophet ﷺ that we know what the supererogatory deeds are. He is, thus, the means by which we are given the knowledge to draw near to God.

He is the ‘Perfect Human’ (al-insan al-kamil), which also is the title of a famous contemporary work by the traditionist of the Hijaz (al-muḥaddith al-hijaz), the shaykh of our shaykhs, Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki, may God have mercy upon him. The Prophet ﷺ is the Messenger of Mercy (raḥma), whom God sent as a mercy to all created things, which is mentioned in the words of God: “And We have not sent you except as a mercy to all the worlds”(21:107).

And this same attribute of mercy is the attribute of God that is mentioned time and again in this religion, whether it be in the sacred narrations, or in the word of God. Indeed, consider that the basmala (the saying of bismillah al-rahman al-rahim), which opens every cycle of prayer, and is recommended before every action, includes not one, but two attributes relating to mercy (raḥma): al-Rahman, al-Rahim.

It is for this reason and many others that the scholars said that out of all of the sacred signs of God, the Prophet ﷺ is the most sacred indeed – and why the visitation to him is so recommended. The below includes some of the most pertinent recommendations included therein – and there will be many others, but one hopes this will suffice for the ease of memorising and remembering, particularly for those for whom the visitation to Madina is their first time.

The Visitation of the Prophet ﷺ – (Be Merciful to One Another)

Our teachers reminded us, therefore, that in the event we were considering the visitation (ziyara) of the Prophet ﷺ, we should do so in a way that is befitting of the occasion. His essence is mercy – our essence, at all times, but particularly as we embark from our homes to pursue the visitation, should be a complete emulation of that sacred attribute. Our mercy with our families, our friends, those that we know and those that we do not – it is mercy that we should focus upon in our character. If we are genuine in our desire to follow his practise (Sunna), then we should know that this is his Sunna: being a mercy to all the worlds.

As one approaches al-Madina al-Munawwara (the Illuminated City), one should remember – they are visiting the city in which the mercy to the worlds lived, taught, and passed from this world. When one visits the city, one should not be surprised if they feel this overwhelming feeling of serenity (sakina) within it, and this subtle sweetness (jamal): rather, this is entirely natural, considering who is buried therein. There is an awesome-like (jalal) nature to Makka, which cannot be mistaken – and there is a subtle sweetness-like nature (jamal) to Madina, which cannot be mistaken.

Imam Nawawi, one of the foremost authorities of the Shafi’i rite (madhhab), in his commentary on Sahih Muslim, one of the most authentic compilations of Prophetic narrations (ahadith), said:

“The scholars have differed regarding the meaning of the above exception in the same way that they have differed concerning Makka and Madina: which of the two is better? The way of Shafi`i and the vast majority of the scholars is that Makka is better than Madina and that the mosque in Mecca is better than the mosque in Madina. The opposite is true for Malik and a group of scholars”.

So, even though we may follow the opinion that Makka is better, the opinion that Madina is better is clearly of great merit, and well respected, as Imam Malik and others declared it as such.

Indeed, many of our scholars declared that irrespective of the above, the site of the Prophet’s tomb is the holiest place on earth – holier than that of the Ka’aba. Some even compared the nobleness of its location to the nobility of the Throne itself.

And Allah knows best.

The Importance of the Visitation

The visitation, according to most of our scholars, is legally recommended (mandūb); some of our scholars emphasised it so much, that one should be concerned about not making that visit, due to the immense benefit that comes from the visitation. Indeed, the Prophet is narrated as having said:

“Whoever visits my grave, my intercession becomes obligatory for him.”

“Whoever visits me and has no other motive, has a right over me that I intercede on his behalf.”

“Whoever visits me after my death is like he who had visited me during my life.”

“Whoever undertakes a journey specially to visit me, will be my neighbour on the Day of Judgement.”

Be sure that when you visit the Prophet ﷺ, you do not fall into poor etiquette by saying, ‘I am visiting the tomb of the Prophet’ – for you must be aware you are the guest of the Prophet ﷺ, who is aware of you and responds to you. And thus, show it the due respect.

Likewise, be sure to formulate your intention properly – that you intend to visit the Prophet ﷺ, visiting his mosque, praying therein, and thereby drawing closer to the Divine.

Litanies and Practices

The litany (dhikr) that is recommended once your intention has been made is the sending of blessings and prayers (salawat) upon the Prophet ﷺ – any one that you prefer.

Ensure you are clean, fully washed (with a complete bath (ghusl)) wearing good clothes, perfumed, as you would when visiting an honoured dignitary. This should preferably done before you enter Madina, or immediately upon your arrival and before your visit to the Prophet ﷺ.

When you enter Madina, continue your sending prayers upon Prophet ﷺ, and say the following supplication:

اَللهُمَّ هَذَا حَرَمُ نَبِيِّكَ فَاجْعَلْهُ وِقَايَةً لِيْ مِنَ النَّارِ وَآمِنَّا مِنْ الْعَذَابِ وَسُوْءِ الْحِسَابِ.
Allāhumma hādhā ḥaramu nabiyyika faj’alhu wiqāyatan lī mina n-nāri wa amānan mina l-‘adhābi wa sū’a l-ḥisāb

“O Allah, this is the Sacred Precinct of Your Prophet, so make it a protection for me from the Fire and a security from punishment and a bad reckoning.”

The Visiting of the Mosque

The resting place of the father of the Prophet ﷺ, Sayyidina ‘Abdallah b. Abd al-Muttalib (may Allah be pleased with him) is to be found within the enclosure of Masjid al-Nabawi; there is a space near to the Prophet ﷺ that is specified for the resting place of the Prophet Jesus, Sayyidina ‘Isa b. Maryam (upon whom be peace); the original site of the house of Sayyidina Ali b. Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him), may God pleased with him, and Sayyidatuna Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her) is to be found in where the mosque now stands; the Mihrab al-Tahajjud, where the Prophet ﷺ would pray the night vigil (tahajjud) prayer, is in the same precinct; and the ‘Bench’ of the ‘People of the Bench’, who were particularly renowned for their piety (Ahl al-Suffa) is in this same precinct.

With a full awareness, one should proceed to the Prophet ﷺ, reciting salawat, and giving some charity. Recall and remember that you are visiting the Beloved of God, al-Habib, and that you have been chosen and selected to do so by the grace of God.

It is preferable (mandūb) to enter the mosque from the door of Jibril (Bab Jibril) because that was the practice of the Prophet ﷺ – but you may enter through any door.

Following your entrance into the Mosque, ensure you follow the regular etiquette of entering the mosque:

  1. Enter with the right foot
  2. Recite the supplication:                                                                                                                                                                           بِسْمِ اللهِ، اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ. اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَافْتَحْ لِي أَبْوَابَ رَحْمَتِك
    Bismi-llāh, Allāhumma ṣalli alā Muhammad. Allāhumma-ghfir lī wa-ftaḥ lī abwāba raḥmatik.
    In the name of Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad ﷺ. O Allah, open for me the doors of Your Bounty.
  3. Make the intention for spiritual retreat (i’tikaf)

It was the practice of many of the righteous that they would go straight to the Prophet ﷺ, and send him greetings, before anything else, including before they would pray two units (raka’tayn) of prayer to greet the mosque (tahiyyat al-masjid). One should focus solely on the purpose of the visit, which is to greet and visit the Prophet ﷺ. However, if the area in front the Prophet ﷺ is busy, then pray 2 units of prayer as noted below at the Rawda, and then continue to the Prophet ﷺ.

One should proceed to the area of the Rawda, which is in the centre of the mosque, marked by a light green floral carpet. The Prophet ﷺ said of this place: ”The area between my house and my minbar is one of the meadows of Paradise, and my minbar is on my pond (al-Hawd)”. Many of our scholars said that this means, literally, that this area is from Paradise.

In the Rawda, one should pray two units of prayer for greeting the mosque – it has been narrated it is preferable that sura al-Kafirun and sura al-Ikhlas are best to read in the first and second raka’ats respectively. If one cannot do so in the Rawda itself, then pray as close as you can. Remember that it is your intention that is rewarded.

Following this, recall the immense blessing that God has bestowed upon you for this incredible opportunity, as a guest of the Prophet ﷺ. Supplicate to God tremendously – this is one of the most special places on this earth.

You will then eventually exit the mosque from the south, near Bab al-Salam – and in so doing, you will be passing in front of the Prophet ﷺ. Remember: as you walk through this area, you are walking on the ground that was walked upon by the Prophet ﷺ, by his family, by his companions, by his followers, by their followers, by the scholars and sages of this umma.

Read salawat in abundance and be aware you are approaching the physical nearness of the Final Messenger of God; be humble, be aware of your faults, and be hopeful of attaining forgiveness.

The Prophet ﷺ, Sayyidina Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and Sayyidina Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) are all buried in the middle enclosure that you can see among three enclosures. Stand a little away from the enclosure, facing it, with your back towards the Qibla, and turn slightly left so your face is facing directly to the Prophet ﷺ, who is directly behind the first hole of the middle enclosure that you will be able to see. Invoke prayers and send blessings upon the Prophet ﷺ, in abundance, and request what you will via his intercession (wasila).

And after you have done so, give the Prophet ﷺ your greetings of peace, the minimum of which is:

اَلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ
‏As-salāmu ‘alayka yā rasūlAllāh.
Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah.

Do not do so loudly, without decorum – do so with dignity and humility, envisioning the Prophet ﷺ in front of you. Indeed, keeping your voice low at all times in the presence of the Prophet ﷺ is warranted, in due respect of him.

Then, recite more salawat upon the Prophet ﷺ;

repeat the testification of faith;

invoke God for His forgiveness (istighfar);

thank the Prophet ﷺ;

and then do not neglect asking the Prophet for his intercession:

يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ، أَسْأَلُكَ الشَّفَاعَةَ وَأَتَوَسَّلُ بِكَ إِلَى اللهِ أَنْ أَمُوْتَ مُسْلِمَاً عَلَى مِلَّتِكَ وَسُنَّتِكَ
Yā rasūla llāh as’aluka ash-shafā’ata wa atawassalu bika ila llāhi ‘an ‘amūta Musliman ‘ala millatika wa sunnatik.
O Rasul Allah! I request your intercession, and I ask Allah, through you, to enable me to die on your religion and your Sunnah.

If you do not know the supplication by heart, do so in whatever words you choose. Do not neglect sending greetings to Sayyidina Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and Sayyidina Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) facing them – which means stepping a little to the right, twice – and then you may return to facing the Prophet ﷺ to make more supplications, before you leave the mosque. Do not give the resting place of the Prophet your back, at any time.

As you leave the mosque, you’ll be facing Janna al-Baqi’, where many of the righteous are buried – it is appropriate to send them the gift of the reward of reciting Sura al-Fatiha by reading it with that intention.

Farewell to Madina

One hopes that one makes the best use of their time in Madina while they are there. Spend your time well, plan it well, use it well. As you pass in front of the mosque of the Prophet ﷺ, ensure you always give him greetings.

Before you leave Madina, ensure you visit him ﷺ one last time before departure. Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani recommended we supplicate: “O Allah, don’t make this the last of my visit to the grave of Your Prophet, and if you cause me to die, then make me die loving him and his Sunna. Amin, O most merciful of the merciful!”

Our teachers said: leave your heart and soul in those blessed places, and only let your body take the return trip. May God bless us all with the secrets of the ziyara.


Ustadh Dr. Hisham A. Hellyer

Dr Hisham A. Hellyer is Professorial Fellow of Cambridge Muslim College (UK) and Senior Scholar of the Azzawia Trust & Al-Zawiya Institute (South Africa). As a widely published academic and commentator focusing on politics and religion in the West, the Arab world and Muslim communities globally, he concurrently serves as Senior Fellow at RUSI (UK) & the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (USA).

Born to an English father and to an Egyptian mother of ʿAbbāsī-Sudanese & Ḥasanī-Moroccan heritage, he was raised between London, Cairo and Abu Dhabi, before becoming educated at Sheffield and Warwick universities to post-doctoral levels in law and the social sciences. He studied – and studies – the Islamic intellectual tradition in the UK, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and elsewhere, keeping the company of traditionally trained-scholars, including the likes of the Malaysian polymath, Tan Sri Professor Sayyid M. Naquib al-Attas, and Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, the khalifa of the Makkan sage, Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki.

With previous positions at and affiliations with the Brookings Institution, Harvard University, the American University in Cairo, and the RZS-Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science and Civilisation (CASIS), he is a frequent commentator and columnist in various media in the United States, Europe and the Arab world. Included in the scholarly section of the annual global ‘Muslim 500’ list of Georgetown University (USA) and RISCC (Jordan), he is also a council member of the British Board of Scholars & Imams. Among his written works are ‘Muslims of Europe: the ‘Other’ Europeans’ (Edinburgh University Press), ‘A Revolution Undone: Egypt’s Road Beyond Revolt’ (Oxford University Press) and “The Islamic Tradition, Muslim Communities and the Human Rights Discourse” (editor) (Atlantic Council)


Further Resources:

Information on the Sites of the Holy City of Madina (pdf) – ‘Madinah Ziyarah Guide

Visitation of the Prophet

Advice from Habib Umar

The Etiquette of the Ziyara (Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyya)

 

Selected Further Reading:

Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din, by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali

al-Ghunya li talibi Tariq al-Haqq, by Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani

Al-Arba’in, by Imam al-Nawawi

al-Majmu` Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, by Imam al-Nawawi

al-Idah fi Manasik al-Hajj, by Imam al-Nawawi

Allow Your Emotions to Be Elevated – Habib Umar

Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) calls us to allow our emotions to be elevated in order for us to taste the sweetness of faith and to be with Allah’s Beloved ﷺ

The Prophets, their Families and Companions and the angels are all party to intense feelings and emotions – emotions which are extremely lofty, noble, pure, divine, majestic and precious. These emotions constitute their connection to the Knower of all that is concealed, their love for Him and their seeking and receiving love from Him. They include complete submission to Him and love for His sake in order to receive His love. All the angels experience these emotions from the greatest of them down to the least of them, as do the Prophets and Messengers and their Families and Companions and followers and their leader and imam, Muhammad ﷺ.

But whatever love they have for each other for Allah’s sake cannot be compared to the love contained in the heart of the Beloved, the Chosen One. There is only one reason for this: that he is the one who knows Allah better than all of them. Since he knows Allah best, his love for Allah is more intense than all those who love for Allah’s sake. This is why Allah says: the Prophet is more caring towards the believers than they are to their own selves (al-Ahzab, 33:6).

Allah describes him as being extremely perturbed by the hardships you suffer, as being absolutely concerned for your welfare: a Messenger has come to you; grievous to him is your suffering; immensely concerned is he for you.. (al-Tawbah, 9:128) What is this verse telling us? It is saying look at your feelings towards My Beloved. Do you love anyone more than him? No one can be compared to him regarding the care and concern he has for this Ummah in this life and even after he passed from this life: “My life is best for you and my death is best for you.” How? In his life he showed people the path when things happened to them. After his death he said: “Your actions are displayed to me. I praise Allah for any good I find, and if I find other than that, I seek Allah’s forgiveness for you.” He did not say “if I find evil”. Out of his compassion he chose not to attribute evil to us. Instead he said: “If I find other than that..

You are being invited to allow your feelings and emotions to be elevated. Iblis and his forces are competing in this. They want to control our emotions so that we venerate things and people who should not be venerated; so that we love people who are not beloved to Allah and so that we commemorate things which have no value in the sight of Allah and His Messenger.

The Prophet told us that with our emotions we will taste the sweetness of faith. We will taste that sweetness when Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to us than everything else.. Everything else, including Paradise. Had Paradise been more beloved to them, then Thawban would not have cried and neither would some of the other Companions. Paradise with its everlasting bliss was not more beloved to them than seeing the Prophet! They were unable to bear the thought of not seeing him!

Allah knew their sincerity and gave them the good tidings of being with the one they loved: Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger will be with those who Allah has blessed: the Prophets, the Siddiqun, martyrs and the pious – and what blessed company that is! This is purely from the bounty of Allah (al-Nisa, 4:69).

If you read this verse, you notice He did not mention Paradise or any of its pleasures. All He mentions is being with.. This is the highest pleasure of Paradise. These are the loftiest emotions that can be experienced.

The Best of Creation clarified things when he said: “None of you believe until I am more beloved to that person than his children, his parents and all people.” We ask Allah to bear witness to our joy at your Prophet and all that he taught. Allow us to live our lives with these noble feelings and emotions so that we meet You in the best of states.

* Courtesy of Muwasala

The Trodden Path (Episode 10): Shaykh Esa Mannun

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 tenth episode of the The Trodden Path series, Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed writes on the life of Shaykh Esa Mannun of Palestine.

The Trodden PathShaykh Esa Mannun 1306-1376=1889-1956 (Palestine)

Esa ibn Yusuf ibn Ahmad Mannun was a great scholar of Fiqh, a specialist in the Shafi’ school and a reputable scholar of Usul-Fiqh.

He was born in 1889 (1306) in the village of Ain Kaarim on the outskirts of the city of Quds. This area was known for its beauty, fresh, unpolluted air, sweet, refreshing water and it was an area surrounded by grape and olive trees. Many would come here for their summer vacation on account of the beautiful environment and the generosity and affable nature of the local people. 

Shaykh Esa grew up in this pure environment. His parents were good practising Muslims with a noble background. His grandfather, Ahmad Mannun made sure, that his grandson while still very young, developed a thirst for knowledge and a love for reading and he encouraged him in every possible way.

His father, Yusuf, desired that his son work with him on his grape orchard, but the boy was not very keen. He would remain with his father for short periods, after which he would return to school. His grandfather helped him by speaking to his father and urged him not to let his son be distracted from schooling and acquiring knowledge. 

Thereafter, Esa dedicated even more time and studied with passion and a desperate desire in search of knowledge. It was then through the mercy of Allah that he was blessed by having had the opportunity of studying under a great teacher, Shaykh Yusuf Al-Habiyah, who devoted a lot of time and attention to the young Esa. Because of his intelligence and wit, he excelled way above his friends; as a result, Shaykh Yusuf taught him some additional lessons that were not included in the school syllabus. He taught him the Quran and helped him memorize it. Shaykh Esa also studied Arabic grammar, Lexicology, Fiqh and Tawhid after having grasped all the requirements of the school syllabus, which included subjects like mathematics, history and writing skills.

When he sat for the examination at the Darul Ma’arif in Al- Quds, he impressed the examiners to such an extent, that they were prepared to have him appointed as a teacher in one of the schools on the outskirts of the city. When he learnt about this, he pressurized his grandfather to convince a friend of his to intervene so he would not be sent to another area, as he was not prepared to leave his Shaykh, with whom he had spent so much time.

Shaykh Esa treasured the time with his Shaykh, even though it resulted in a decrease in his salary and reduced the possibility of being promoted.

He taught at the school for one year. Being fifteen years old, he was the youngest teacher at the school. He had a desire to study at the Al-Azhar University. In 1902 (1322), he intended to travel to Egypt to continue his studies. He faced some pressure from his parents, but he continued to be good and kind to them, until they finally granted him permission. During his time in Egypt, he was fortunate to have had the opportunity to have met and become acquainted with some of the senior scholars of the time.

It was his practice not to attend the lesson of any scholar until he prepared it thoroughly and understood it. When the teacher began the lesson, he listened attentively to find out if his understanding of the subject conformed to what the teacher said. In most cases this was true. The only reason why the teacher in many cases was better was because he had the chance to refer to many more and rare references that were not available to the students. Shaykh Esa however was admired both as a student and a teacher.

He had a great desire to benefit from the different scholars. He would rise before Fajr and after the Salat, he attended lessons conducted by the scholars. He sat with one Shaykh and after sunrise he would proceed to another and then another in this way until before Asr. Thereafter, he rested for a while and had his lunch. These lessons he attended were voluntary.

After Asr Salat, he returned to the Al-Azhar to revise his lessons and prepare the lessons for the next day. He continued in this way until late at night. When this was over, he would carry his books and return to his room to continue his normal routine from the morning. He was known amongst his friends for his hard-work and the effective way in which he utilized his time.

Five years after joining the Al-Azhar, the teachers at the University decided to introduce some new policies. They decided to place those students who studied privately under scholars of their choice in formal studies that would correspond with their academic level. They decided on a period of 12 years. For this they carried out examinations that were conducted by committees of Ulama. As a result of this examination Shaykh Esa was placed in the ninth year, even though he was only in Egypt for five years.

This encouraged him to sit and attempt the International Examination, which was only permitted to students after 12 years. He occupied himself during the vacation, and during his years as a student, he only went home once. He did not go home again until he was appointed as teacher at the Al-Azhar. 

Some of his most notable teachers were:

  • Shaykh Salim Al-Bishri, the Shaykh of the Al-Azhar.
  • Shaykh Muhammad Hasanain Makhluf, father of Shaykh Hasanain Makhluf who was the Mufti Egypt and a member of the Council of Ulama.
  • Shaykh Abdul Hakm Ataa, under whom Shaykh Esa studied Tafsir and Usul.
  • Shaykh Muhammad Ulayan who was known for his precise understanding and was a famous scholar of Tawhid and logic.
  • Shaykh Muhammad Bakhit Al-Mutiie, who was a renowned faqih and Usul specialist of his time. He was the Mufti of Egypt and a person with many books to his credit.
  • Shaykh Muhammad Abduh, who was also the Mufti of Egypt and a person known for his eloquence.
  • Shaykh Muhammad Al-Rifa’ie, who was a person who had dedicated most of his time and effort to the study of Hadith.
  • Shaykh Ahmad Nasr

Certificates and Acknowledgements:

The practice at the Al-Azhar was that a student studied with a Shaykh for a length of time. When he felt that he had the ability to enter the examination, he would present an application to the Committee of Scholars of the Al-Azhar. The examination was conducted orally by a panel of the senior ulama. This examination was very difficulty during which the student was tested on many subjects. 

Shaykh Esa presented his application and did not wish to waste time. When he realized that a month had passed and he still did not receive any notice of his examination, he continued with his usual practice. Many of his colleagues were eager to study with him because of his ability to clarify difficult issues. While studying and preparing for the examination he had the opportunity to go and enquire about his application. He was taken by surprise, when one of the supervisors asked him to immediately sit for the examination. He was happy and he praised Allah for this. He went forward without any fear or hesitation, even though he did not have with him any book to revise from. During the examination he answered by quoting texts from memory in a very eloquent manner. This impressed the examiners and they all agreed to award him the certificate with the highest results.

After completing the examination, he returned to his friends with whom he used to study. He informed them that he had just completed the examination that lasted six hours, and he was successful. They were thoroughly amazed. This outstanding event occurred in 1911 (1328). His success encouraged his friends to take the examination.

After having achieved this certificate, he was confident to try and obtain the highest academic certificate available at the time, at the Al-Azhar. This examination was very difficult because it included various branches of Shariah and the Arabic Language.

He began preparing for this examination. Usually there would be a time period of a few years between the two examinations. However, Shaykh Esa because of his exceptional intelligence, applied one year after he received the first certificate. He passed without any difficulty and all members of the examining committee were highly impressed including the Head of the examination, Shaykh Muhammad Shakir, the father of Shaykh Ahmad Shakir. This was in 1912 (1329).

The practice at the Al-Azhar at the time was that those who applied for this examination were given certain important sections and topics to prepare. The student would have to answer questions on these. This examination was also conducted by some of the most senior scholars of the Al-Azhar. The topics were chosen from sixteen different sciences of Shariah, namely: Fiqh, Usul-Fiqh, Tafsir, Hadith, Tawhid and subjects related to the Arabic language such as grammar, syntax, rhetoric poetry etc. Subjects like logic, research methodology and ahklaq were also included. 

Usually, a student, after he was granted the topics would choose a senior scholar who would help him prepare him for the examination. Shaykh Esa however, began studying and explaining these subjects to his friends and they were in no need to seek the assistance of another scholar.

On the day of the examination, he proceeded to the examination centre where the examination committee was present and was headed by Shaykh Abdul Hakm Ataa. Some examiners informed him not to hasten with Shaykh Esa because if they completed the examination in a short time, another student would be sent and there would not be sufficient time for that.

Shaykh Esa sat in front of the committee for about eight hours, responding confidently. They realized that he was different from the students they were accustomed to questioning. In his presence he was awarded his result, which too was an unusual practice.

Coincidentally, while he was in front of the committee, Shaykh Muhammad Shakir walked in and began questioning him on some intricate issues. The Shaykh answered eloquently and he left a lasting impression on the committee and the students and scholars at the Al-Azhar.

In 1912, there was no real need to appoint graduates as teachers, but the deputy of the Al-Azhar approached Shaykh Muhammad Shakir and asked if they were in need of teachers who could teach writing skills and calligraphy, Shaykh Esa was summoned to participate in a writing contest from which a teacher would be selected. Many prominent scholars in this field were present. However, due to Shaykh Muhammad Shakir’s acquaintance with Shaykh Esa, he was called to resume his post as a writing teacher.

When he arrived on the first day for lessons, Shaykh Muhammad Al-Dinari presented the time-table to him. He was shocked to find that he was assigned to teach all the subjects except Fiqh because the students in that class were all Hanbali while he was Shafi’. He immediately returned it, saying that it was wrongly assigned to him. Instead Shaykh Al-Dinari reassured him that there was no mistake. Shaykh Esa was very happy.

He remained a teacher in the first level for a few years, after which he was promoted to the second level, and then to the highest level in the Faculty. He was soon the most prominent teacher of Shariah. He continued teaching Usul-Fiqh to the fourth year students for a number of years. During this period, he wrote his book Nibrasul Uqul fi Tahqiqil Qiyas inda Ulamail Usul which was acclaimed by many scholars.

When the department for specialization was introduced, he was granted the task of teaching the students one of the most comprehensive books in Usul-Fiqh (Musallam Al-Thubut) and its commentary by Abdul Ali Al-Laknawi Al-Hindi.

In 1918, when only 30 years old, he was appointed to oversee the Syrian students and their dormitories. One of his accomplishments while serving in this position was when he noticed the absence of a good system to control the funds for the students. He studied the Waqf system and implemented it in such a way whereby he had excess funds at the end of every year.  He was also appointed to the section that prepared teachers for the various faculties. He was assigned the task to teach Tawhid and Usul-Din, a duty, he continued to do for a long time. He taught some of the most important and difficult works on the subject namely; Al-Mawaqif by Allamah Al-Iijee with its commentary by Allamah Jurjani and Al-Maqasid by Allamah Sa’d Al-Din Al-Taftazani.

On one occasion, there was a problem at the Syrian students’ dormitories. Shaykh Esa visited the Shaykh of the Al-Azhar, Shaykh Muhammad Mustafa Al-Maraghi with the intention of resolving the problem. Shaykh Maraghi enquired about where and what he taught: When he replied and informed him that he taught at the Faculty of Usul-Din and he taught the likes of Al-Mawaqif, Shaykh Maraghi was taken aback and he began questioning him on some complicated issues. Shaykh Esa explained to them clearly and confidently and this pleased and satisfied Shaykh Maraghi. He then enquired if he had any books to his credit. Shaykh Esa told him about his book Nibrasul Usul…. He asked for a copy then allowed him to deal, with the dormitory problems in a manner he saw suitable and further reassured him of any assistance in any matter. This incident was an acknowledgement and approval by Shaykh Maraghi for Shaykh Esa.

In 1939, Shaykh Esa presented his book to the Council of senior Ulama to achieve recognition and to be regarded as a member of the Council. He was unanimously accepted by all, despite being the youngest. The King of Egypt awarded him the gala uniform as an honour in 1941.

He worked with the endowments to improve the conditions for the students. The number of students he was responsible for would some times reach 500 and they included Palestinians, Syrians, Jordanians and Lebanese. 

He visited the students and discussed their lessons with them and motivated and encouraged them to devote more time and effort to their studies. Many prominent scholars came out from these dormitories.

His home was also a place of learning. Students would gather and benefit from him while many were preparing to sit for the examination. His gathering commenced after Asr and ended late after Esha. This used to continue for about two months before the examination. He did this voluntarily and with the intention of promoting Ilm.

When the Shariah Qada College was closed to foreigners, who did not have an Egyptian Certificate, he continued to intercede on their behalf until the students were permitted to study there.

In addition, when the various faculties were established at the Al-Azhar, one of the conditions of enrolment was that the student must have a high school certificate. This was not easy for most foreigners; as a result, they were deprived entry. Shaykh Esa again interceded on their behalf at administration level. They finally agreed, on condition that every faculty had its own entrance examination. This was another contribution to the Muslim World.

He had a lot of care and concern for the foreign students and would invite them to his home in Ramadan to break their fast. He would set aside certain times when students would visit him at his home and he entertained them on the days of Eid. He was like a father to them and would assist them financially and any other way possible.   

Many of these foreign students experienced great difficulties because of their lack of knowledge of the Arabic language, and as a result they could not further their studies. They complained and Shaykh Esa took up the matter with Shaykh Maraghi, and subsequently a committee was formed in 1941 headed by Shaykh Esa to look into students’ grievances. He presented some suggestions to the Shaykh of the Al-Azhar.

He had a special concern for the Palestinian students, especially after the disaster in 1948 when their access to food supplies was cut off. He worked with Al-Azhar Organization for the freedom of Palestine to try and provide some funds for these students. These were noble and virtuous actions that helped protect and nurture a nation.

Positions Held:

In 1944, he was appointed as Head of the Faculty of Usul-Din, because of his excellent administration and his compassion and because he was a person who was concerned about the welfare of the institute. He was able to disassociate himself from all controversies. He believed that the Al-Azhar was a trust from Allah, with which Allah had entrusted the Ulama, and because of it Cairo sparkled above the other cities. In fulfilling this trust, he visited the teachers and lecturers in their classes and listened to their lessons and he questioned the students to ascertain the level of their comprehension. Before leaving, he would advise them to listen to their teachers’ explanation and to prepare the lesson before coming to class. 

In 1946, after the excellent manner in which he administered the Faculty of Usul-Din, he was transferred to the Faculty of Shariah.

Co-incidentally Shaykh Esa was one of the ulama who questioned and examined Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah, when he was a student at the Al-Azhar and he was very pleased with Shaykh Abu Ghuddah’s answers and praised him in the presence of the examining committee.

Shaykh Esa remained in charge of the Faculty of Shariah for about ten years. Some of the reasons why he was so effective and successful are:

  • He would proceed very early to the faculty, at times before the staff.
  •  He was very precise in everything he did.
  • He was well acquainted with the students and the teachers.
  • He had a deep insight in selecting the panel of Ulama that was to examine the students.
  • He was concerned about the welfare of the institute, the teachers and the students.
  • He was not interested in amassing wealth or earning high salaries.
  • He advised the authorities to utilize the graduates in various departments of education.

He spent about 42 years of his life at the Al-Azhar, either teaching or in administration or even serving on various committees.

He was at one stage, the head of the Hadith Council and a member of the Fatwa Council and the Committee that reviewed the syllabi. He participated in many research projects in matters of waqf and personal law.

In 1954, he reached the age of retirement, so he requested from the administration to absolve him from administrative duties and to allow him to spend more time on academic research and writing. A function was held in his honour where students and scholars praised him.

After retiring, he remained at home devoted to his books. The Ulama of the Al-Azhar still did not want to leave him, so they appointed him as the Head of the Hadith Council that was set up to revise the book (Al-Jamu’ bayn Al-Sahihayn) by Hafiz Al-Humaidi. He maintained this position until he passed away.

Ever since his student days, Shaykh Esa had a love for books and he acquired many irrespective of the price. Once, he bought a manuscript, and after studying it he realized that it contained a portion from Imam Al-Nawawi’s book Al-Majmu’ in the Shafi’ madhab. He was very happy and encouraged the scholars to have it published. He was so impressed with the book that he decided to complete the book continuing from where Imam Al-Nawawi and Imam Taqi Al-Din Al-Subki stopped. He wrote about 100 notebooks of about 40 pages each after which, he passed away.

Even though Shaykh Esa was so busy, he still managed to write many books. Some of his books are:

 

  • Nibrasul Usul fi Tahqiqil Qiyas inda Ulamail Usul.
  • Completion of Al-Majmu’ by Imam Nawawi.
  • A treatise on the rules of Hajj.
  • Discourses in Tawhid and Usul – Fiqh. 
  • A Treatise, refuting the claims of those who wish to make Ijtihad in this era.
  • The law on killing an apostate.
  • Discourses on the Tafsir of some verses of the Quran that were aired over the radio in the month of Ramadan.

 

The above are his works that have been printed. Those not printed are innumerable.

His Personality and Character:

He was a person of lofty aspirations; he was honourable and trustworthy. He disliked arguments between the ulama. He opposed Taha Husain and his views regarding fasting in Ramadan questioning the one who really has the right to Ijtihad. He loved research and used his time to maximum benefit. He was very friendly in his approach and in his speech. He displayed a high degree of trust in Allah.

Death:

He passed away in 1956 (1376). Many prominent scholars attended his funeral including the Shaykh of the Al-Azhar, students, government officials and journalists. His Janazah was performed in the Al-Azhar mosque and he was buried in one of the graves near Imam Shafi’s grave.


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:

  1. Muslim Scholars of the 20th Century.
  2. 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.


A Poetic Gift for Rabi al Awwal – Novid Shaid

Novid Shaid pens a heartwarming poetic piece on the Beloved (peace be upon him and his family):

 

When he lifted his hand to my heart
He was so odious to me
When he lifted his hand from my heart
He was most beloved to me
 
I was circling the house of Allah
With a mission engaging me
To murder Muhammad
The troublemaking Hashimi
He had shattered the bonds
Of our families and our certainties
He had poisoned the hearts of our friends
From our rites and our deities
 
When he lifted his hand to my heart
He was so odious to me
When he lifted his hand from my heart
He was most beloved to me
 
I approached him, prepared, through the crowds
Steadying to dispatch of him
He was easy prey in the open
Not a soul was protecting him
But before I could render the blow
His eyes burrowed into me
I sensed an absorbing radiance
A profundity
 
Then he lifted his hand to my heart
He was still odious to me
When he lifted his hand from my heart
He was most beloved to me
 
When he lifted his hand to my heart
He was my sworn enemy
When he lifted his hand from my heart
I was mended eternally
 
When he lifted his hand to my heart
His beliefs were absurdities
When he lifted his hand from my heart
There was no other guide for me
 
When he lifted his hand to my heart
He was so odious to me
When he lifted his hand from my heart
He was most beloved to me

Novid Shaid 2019 Rabbi Al Awwal 1441

Appreciation of Beauty – Shaykh Sadullah Khan

 

In this Pre Khutba talk, Shaykh Sadullah Khan reminds the congregation about the value of appreciating beauty. By cultivating beautiful character traits we are able to replicate the most beautiful and complete person, the Prophet (peace be upon him). In a time where only the outer is accepted and lauded, it would do us well to remember the importance of the inner dimensions of human existence. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the epitome of inner and outer excellence. As Muslims, we should try our upmost to beautify our inner states so that we may be able to manifest beauty to others in our actions.

* Courtesy of Masjid al – Furqaan (Cape Town)

The Prophetic Paradigm of Dealing With Problems – Shaykh Amin Kholwadia

* Courtesy of Darul Qasim

In this Pre Khutba talk, Shaykh Amin Kholwadia reminds the congregation that the absence of problems in society are not a sign of communal success or well being. Human nature and society is inextricably bounded to problems and challenges. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had to deal with problems and challenges on a daily basis. Furthermore, Islamic history is replete with events and episodes of turmoil and issues. Therefore, instead of rebelling against human nature, Muslims should adopt the approach and methodology of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in dealing with problems. He (peace be upon him) showed us through his blessed life that Islam teaches us how to navigate through human complexity. It is time that we realize this and embrace the Prophetic qualities of patience, forbearance, struggle, compassion and generosity in dealing with life and others. We should do our best in providing ease and assistance to those who are suffering from the challenges of life, and try to create a peaceful society by following the Prophetic model.

* Originally published on the 21st of October 2019

Welcome to Rabiʿ al-Awwal & the Virtues of Praising the Prophet ﷺ – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

* Originally published on the 11th of November 2018

Shaykh Faraz provides a welcome and introduction to Rabiʿ al-Awwal, the month of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), who is the means to our having every good. To introduce the series on the Great Praises of the Prophet from around the world, Shaykh Faraz explains why we praise the Prophet. He highlights praise of the Prophet and sending blessings on him as an expression of gratitude for the Prophet’s struggles on our behalf and his concern for us. Shaykh Faraz gives advice on how to renew one’s relationship with Allah’s Messenger in the month he was brought into this world. He closes by shedding light on some of the history behind praise of the Prophet, starting with the poetry composed by his own companions and family—while acknowledging that no poetry can fully capture the amazing reality of the Prophet.