The Trodden Path (Episode 7): A Glimpse At the Lives of the Illustrious Scholars and Saints of the 20th and 21st Century – Umar Mukhtar

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 seventh episode of the The Trodden Path series, Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed writes on the life of Umar Mukhtar.

The Trodden Path Umar Mukhtar 1277-1350=1861-1931 (Libya)

Umar Mukhtar, the man who opposed the Italians when they tried to colonize Libya, was born in 1861 (1277) in the valley of Batnaan in Barqah. He was from one of the famous Arab tribes in the area. His father had taken an oath that if Allah granted him a son, he would ensure that he acquired knowledge and serves Islam.

When he was five years old, he joined a primary school to learn the basics in reading and writing. Thereafter he joined the Jaghbub Mosque corner (zawiyah) where he studied the Islamic sciences. Shaykh Muhammad Ali Al-Sanusi started the zawiyah.

Every zawiyah comprised of three rooms. The first was used to conduct lessons to the Bedouin children, the second was used to entertain the travelers and the third served as a residence for the teachers. The zawiyah was always situated next to a well and it had a small piece of land that was cultivated and farmed by the students. The students consumed that which they planted. It also included a small workshop where they produced some goods that were sold to some tribes. It was situated in a place where the students could practically learn about Jihad.

It was in this atmosphere and environment that Umar Mukhtar grew up. Sanusi teachings encouraged its students to abstain from smoking or amassing gold and jewels. They were not to mix with strangers, because of the fear that they would corrupt their beliefs. In addition they were very aware that Islam was not restricted to the five pillars. Instead, it included brotherhood, tolerance, sacrifice and jihad.

These aspects were visible particularly when Umar Mukhtar raised the banner of Jihad against the Italians when they tried to colonize the region.

After completing his studies he was appointed a teacher at the Qusoor zawiyah near the Green Mountain. Initially he faced a rebellious tribe of highway robbers who had no regard for the law. Because of the manner in which he dealt with them, he was able to repress their defiance and he returned them to life of compassion and tenderness. He was able to instill in them pure Islamic characteristics.

When Italy tried to colonize Libya, many Muslims stood up opposing it. One of them was Umar Mukhtar. He appealed to the Muslims to have a conference to prepare the people mentally and physically to fight the colonialists. His vast knowledge assisted him in motivating the people, with the result the people of Libya were changed overnight into an army fighting in the path of Allah under the leadership of Ahmad Al-Sanusi.

Umar Mukhtar and those with him in spite of being few in number with limited resources resisted the Italians with their might. The number of Muslim martyrs in the first ten years, (1911-1921) were more than 70 000. The Italians used to throw some Muslims to their death from airplanes. They also gathered many Muslims and tied them to boats and dragged them in the sea. In addition they slaughtered and butchered hundreds of Muslims.

Umar Mukhtar led the Jihad against the Italians for twenty years until he was captured and imprisoned and sentenced to death in 1931 when he was seventy years old. 

General Istiyani said that he fought 263 battles against Umar Mukhtar in a period of twenty months. Even magazines like the ‘Time’ regarded the killing of Umar Mukhtar as an indication of the Italian’s victory.

When the Italians took over the city of Kafra, Umar Mukhtar took refuge on the ‘Green Mountain’ which he also used as his base.

One night, he went out on an operation along with fifty mujahids. They were taken by surprise when they found themselves surrounded by Italian soldiers. They exchanged gunfire, during which his horse was shot and wounded. When his horse fell, the Italians were then able to capture him. The Italian Governor in Marj arrived by plane, and ordered that Umar Mukhtar be taken to the port and from there he was taken to Benghazi. He remained in prison for four days. When his sentence was passed and he heard all the allegations against him, he did not deny it, instead he said, “You have transgressed and acted in hostility on our land. Islam has made Jihad compulsory on us against the usurpers of our land. I did not do anything except carry out the teachings of Islam, because Islam refuses and does not allow its followers to be disgraced.”

The Italian judge pronounced the sentence. The next day he was taken to the area where he was to be hanged. He continued to recite the Shahadah until he passed away. This was in 1931.

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.


An Urgent Call Regarding the Plight of Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, Shaykh Awad al-Qarni, and Dr. Ali al-Omari

An Urgent Call Regarding the Plight of Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, Shaykh Awad al-Qarni, and Dr. Ali al-Omari


All praise belongs to Allah, and blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad and His family.


Peace and mercy be upon you:


It is with great concern and perturbation that we have received unconfirmed reports regarding the imminent execution of Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, Shaykh Awad al-Qarni, and Dr. Ali al-Omari.


Islam teaches us that life is a blessing from Allah. Those who seek to deprive someone of this blessing without a clearly sanctioned religious basis have committed an act that God deems atrocious and a mighty sin: If anyone kills a believer deliberately, the punishment for him is Hell, and there he will remain: Allah is angry with him, and rejects him, and has prepared a tremendous torment for him. (Qur’an, 4:93)


The Inviolability of the Believer

The Prophet ﷺ and his Companions viewed the life, wealth, and honor of all who uttered the testimony of faith (shahada) as inviolable. They took immense care not to impede on these basic rights even in the context of enacting punishments.


The Prophet ﷺ said, “Avoid applying punishments as long as you are able to find an excuse to avert them,” (Sunan Ibn Majah) and Ibn Masʿud stated, “Avoid flogging and applying the death penalty upon people as much as you can.” (Sunan al-Kubra)


Indeed, the sanctity of the believer was so great in the eyes of the Prophet ﷺ that he deemed the destruction of the world as a lighter affair than the killing of even a single Muslim. (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)


Similarly, the early Muslims (salaf) would remark when gazing upon the Kaʿba, “The inviolability of a believer is greater with Allah than your inviolability.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi) There are few statements one can imagine as emphatic as these in affirmation of the rank of the believer.


A Call for Clemency

In light of the guidance of the Prophet ﷺ and the gravity of depriving a Muslim of the fundamental rights granted to him or her by Islam, we urge the authorities in question to immediately cease any plans to execute Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, Shaykh Awad al-Qarni, and Dr. Ali al-Omari in the immediate or distant future.


We urge those in the leadership to grant them clemency in this blessed month of Ramadan.


It is our firm belief that the actions of these scholars do not in any way justify the appalling treatment they have been subjected to over the past year and more. We make this call in the spirit of providing sincere counsel, realizing our role as scholars duty-bound to the expression of truth, and recognizing that each of us will be held accountable for our actions in the next life where oppression will be nothing but darkness leading to perdition.


And Allah is in the aid of His oppressed servants. May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon His Prophet.


Ramadan 17th, 1440

May 22nd, 2019

Drafted by (Shaykh) Salman Younas




Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, SeekersGuidance

Dr. Yasir Qadhi, Dean of the Islamic Seminary of America

Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Shaykh Mustapha Elturk, Amir of Islamic Organization of North America

Shaykh Omar Suleiman

Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari, Director of Darul Iftaa Leicester

Mufti Abdur Rahman Mangera, London

Shaykh Azhar Nasser, Tasneem Institute

Shaykh Rami Nsour, Tayba Foundation

Dr. Omar Qureshi

Dr. Abdullah Hamid Ali

Dr. Jonathan Brown, Georgetown University

Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick

Mohammad Fadel, Professor of Law, University of Toronto

Dr. Shadee Elmasry, Safina Society

Professor Hatem Bazian, Director of IRDP

Shaykh Bilal Ali Ansari, Khalil Center

Mahin Islam, The Mad Mamluks Podcast

Mufti Taha Karaan, South Africa

Imam Suhaib Webb, Scholar in Residence ICNYU

Dr. Ovamir Anjum, University of Toledo

Shaykh Abdul Wahab Saleem

Dr. Hamid Slimi

Shaykh Dr. Asim Yusuf

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, UCLA School of Law

Dalia Mogahed, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Imam Dawud Walid, Member of Michigan Imams Council

Dr. Ihsan Bagby, University of Kentucky

Dr. Shabbir Ally, Toronto

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, Tayseer Seminary

Omer M. Mozaffar, Loyola University Chicago

Imam Yasin Dwyer, Muslim Chaplaincy of Toronto

Dr. Rafaqat Rashid, Al Balagh Academy

Shaykh Hani Saleem, Islamic Center of Detroit

Shaykh Mohammed Faqih, Islamic Institute of Orange County

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi, Dean of IOK Seminary

Imam Abdul-Malik Ryan, DePaul University

Imam John Ederer, Muslim Community Center of Charlotte

Ismail Royer

Shaykh Sadullah Khan, South Africa

Shaykh Abdur Rahim Reasat, SeekersGuidance

Ustadh Samir Hussain, ISNA High School

Shaykh Sulaiman Gani, London

Prof. Jasser Auda, President of Maqasid Institute Global

Dr. Basma Abdelgafar, Vice President of Maqasid Institute Global

Imam Ibrahim Hindy, Dar al-Tawheed Islamic Center

Dr. Osman Latiff, Jamia Masjid and Islamic Center

Shaykh Amer Jamil, Scotland

Dr. Edward Moad, USA

Shaykh Muhammad Mustaqeem Shah, Walsall

Professor Suleman Dangor, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Dr. Bekim Hasani, Imam and Activist from Melbourne

Shaykh Bilal Ismail, Imam Development Project

Professor S. Sayyid, University of Leeds

Shaykh Shahin-ur Rahman, al-Rahma, England

Dr. Mustapha Sheikh, University of Leeds

Dr. Tajul Islam, University of Leeds

Dr. David H. Warren, University of Edinburgh

Dr Syed Mustafa Ali, The Open University, UK

Dr. Ahmed Soboh, Religious Director of Chino Valley Islamic Center

Buthaina Hawas-Neveln, Iraqi Journalist

Shaykh Salmaan Parkar, Australian Islamic College

Imam Imran Salha, ICA

Dr. Asif Hirani, Imam and Resident Scholar of Worcester Islamic Center

Faheem Sidi

Zaid alBarzinji, Maqasid Institute

Shaykh Ahmad Kutty, Resident Scholar of Islamic Institute of Toronto

Imam Shafi Chowdhury, Leicester

Shaykh Abdur Rahman Khan, Co-Chair of National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue

Dr. Mohammad Ilyas, University of Florida

Shaykh Mohammad Aman Haque, Norway

Shaykh Tariq Ata

Imam Mazhar Mahmood, Director of Islamic Foundation of Peoria

Ishraq Ali, Organizing Director of MPower Change

Professor James Dickins, University of Leeds

Mohammad Elshinawy, Yaqeen Institute

Naseera Hoorzook

Usman Qamar, Muslim Chaplaincy of Waterloo

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi

Mawlana Zakariyah Harneker

Imam Salim Astewani, Cheadle, Cheshire, UK

Dr. John Esposito, Georgetown University

Dr. Yvonne Haddad, Georgetown University

Shaykh Muhammad Abuelezz, RCIC Imam, Muslim Association of Canada

Omar Usman, Executive Director, MuslimMatters

Sanam Zaidi

Mufti Ismail Y Syed, London

Mostafa Elhoushi

Dr. Ildus Rafikov, ISTAC

Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, UK

Ustadha Umm Jamaal ud-Din, Islamic College of Australia

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, Chairman Fiqh Council of North America

Abdo Binmelik, MGIET Ethiopia

Zahra Summayah, Founder/CEO Manifesting Muslimah Coaching

Moulana Safwaan Navlakhi, Al-Ma’aly Institute South Africa

Salim Astewani, Cheshire

Dr. Sharif El-Tobgui, Brandeis University

Iyad Hilal

Riffat Hussain, UK

Shahzad Hussain, UK

Imam Suleiman Hani, ICD

Turgut Ibrahim

Aamir Ansari, Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)

Mufti Sufyan, UK

Saira AbuBakr

Dr. Munir Elkassem, President of Islamic Institute for Interfaith Dialogue

Taha Abdul-Basser

Laila Mehar, Former President of UConn SJP Hartford

Amina Muhannaia, Turkey

Ashraf Gomma Ali

Raheem Bilal

Arbazz Mohammed

Ustadha Umme Umar, UK

Waqas Syed, ICNA Council for Social Justice

Safwan Ahmed Patel, UK

Muhammad Ibn Yusuf, UK

Faruq Abdul Jabbar

Quratulain Musaddique

Rukhsana Ghouse

Mohammed Toshriful Haque, USA

Dr Susan Kennedy Nour al Deen

Aiman Arif

Aiysha Khalid

Imam Bilal Elsakka

Professor Jasmin Zine, Wilfrid Laurier University

Ahmed Sameer, India

Amara Jawaid

Janet Watson

Andrew Stroebel

Mumtaz Ahmed Khan

Dawud Khan


This list of signatories is being actively updated. To join as a signatory please email [email protected] or [email protected] 


Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad – Religious Freedom & the Sunna (Cambridge Khutbas)

cambridge khutbas etc.: Religious Freedom & the Sunna

In this talk, the sheikh discusses the role in the modern world of following the sunna (‘example’, ‘practice’) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). He begins by analysing the fragmentation of the modern world, in which different aspects of human existence and even of an individual are disconnected from each other. As humanity learns more and more about the material details of our existence, there seems to be a correlating reduction in our real understanding of the overall meaning of creation and our place in it. Yet how can we find an antidote to this in the practice of the Prophetic sunna, which, superficially at least, is concerned with the very fine details of our day-to-day life? The sheikh explains the importance firstly of the fact that it is a source of harmony by allowing us to integrate our outward and inward states and conform both to the fundamental reality of our existence. Secondly, the sunna is a shelter and liberation from the imprisonment with which our uncultivated egos (nafs) and desires (hawa’) threaten us. To the modern eye, trained to judge only by the criterion of personal freedom, limiting oneself to a prescribed type of behaviour seems a surefire route to misery and repression. Yet what real freedom is there in living according to the unrelenting demands of the nafs, which will always push for more and more because any apparent happiness it finds in transitory acts is just as fleeting? Unfortunately, for many of us religion has become just another way of acting out the hyperactive impulses of our unquiet souls. But, the sheikh reminds us, its real function is just the opposite – a route to inner contentment (sakina) and thereby freedom.

Listen to this talk

Download this talk (71.6 MB, MP3)