Imam Ibn Balban said in his work Mukhtasar al-Ifadat:
“Point of benefit: If a person walks with someone who is higher than them in terms of rank and virtue, then he should walk on the other person’s hand side, similar to how he would be to the Imam in the prayer. If however the other person (he is walking with) is lesser than him in rank then he should walk on the other person’s left hand side, meaning that this person is to his right.”
Please find below some advice regarding a matter which we may regard as insignificant but was identified by the scholars of the past as in need of rectifying. Shaykh Abd al-Wahab al-Sharani said in his work Tanbih al-Mughtarrin p.128:
And from the Salaf’s character traits – Allah the Exalted be pleased with them – was their regularly asking about the condition of their friends, this was in order to be able to assist them regarding their needs such as food, clothing, money, paying of debts…and the possessors of this character trait in this age are rare. People in this time practice the opposite of this, a person may say to his friend, “how are you?” To which his friend will respond, “I am fine” but in fact hiding his true state of affairs because of his knowing of the emptiness of heart of his friend…rather many a time a person will pass by his brother and say, “How are you” but not wait for an answer, thus the one asking does not wait for an answer nor does the person being asked trouble himself to utter a response.
It was due to this that Sayyidi Ali al-Khawwas – Allah the Exalted have mercy on him – would say: If you do not have a firm resolve to help your brother or share in his worries or supplicate for him – then do not ask him “How are you” for this will become a case of hypocrisy.
Hatim al-Asam – Allah the Exalted have mercy on him – said: if you say to your friend: How are you this morning? and he replies: “I am in need of a particular thing”, however you do not deal with it seriously and do not fulfil his need, then your saying “How are you this morning” is a mockery of him, and this is predominant amongst the folk of this age.
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We have detailed elsewhere on this blog the great Indian scholar Shah Waliullah al-Dehlawi’s link to the Ba Alawi tariqah by means of his Hajj journey where he met scholarly members of the family in the Hijaz. Shaykh Muhammad Ashiq al-Phulati in the biography of his teacher (Qawl al-Jalli p.100-101) records an additional incident related to the Ba Alawi order writing that:
An Arab man by the name of Ahmad Ba Raja was afflicted by fever, an illness which increased daily. One day he saw in a dream that he was at the tomb of Sayyid Abd al-Rahman Saqqaf who is from the Sadat of the family of Ali (Allah be pleased with him) and is buried in Hadramawt. At the tomb he found that our Hazrat-e-Aqdas (Shah Waliullah) was also present and that he recited Surah Yasin to donate the reward to the deceased. This man then proceeded to recite Surah Mulk, after which both of them recited Fatiha. Hazrat-e-Aqdas gave this man a small amount of halwa and said, “Eat this, for the cure for your illness is in this halwa.”
After this the man awoke and came to to visit Hazrat-e-Aqdas and informed him of the whole dream. Shah Waliullah affirmed this dream and proceeded to recite Surah Yasin, Surah Mulk and then recited Fatiha for this saint (Sayyid Abd al-Rahman Saqqaf). Shah Waliullah then asked for some halwa and said to the man, “Eat this, the cure for your illness is in this”, the man duly ate and went to his home. It was only a few days later that he returned back to Shah Waliullah and said, “I ate the halwa and my tribulation has vanished.” (Akaltu al-Halwa Zalat al-Balwa).
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Imam Abd al-Wahab al-Sharani’s work entitled Tanbih al-Mughtarrin (which could be roughly translated as “A note to the deluded”) is a book I have dipped in to many times over the past 15 years. In this book the author highlights the different akhlaq (character traits) of the salaf (pious early Muslims) which the people and scholars of his era had abandoned. I will InshAllah see if I can share some extracts from it in the near future, in the meantime the introduction to the work presented below gives a fascinating insight in to the reason for its being written and the reception it received. Imam Abd al-Wahab al-Sharani said:
“From the main reasons for my writing this work was what I witnessed from the investigation undertaken by the staff of Mawlana, the Sultan Sulayman bin Uthman in second half of the 10th [Islamic] century looking in to the theft of his wealth by government employees and others, and their reason for [this investigation] was in order to support him.
I noticed that none of the scholars of the sacred law had undertaken an investigation – with the intention of supporting the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) – in to the prominent akhlaq of the Muhammadan shariah which had become extinct, just as the staff of Mawlana the Sultan (May Allah grant him victory) had done so.
I was overcome by a feeling of protectiveness (ghayrah al-imaniyyah) to the sacred law and thus authored this book as clarification as to what has disappeared from the prominent akhlaq from the world of scholars of the outer and inner (al-zahir wal-batin). It is a work which is beneficial to every jurist and Sufi in this age to the point that perhaps none of them are without need of looking in to it as you will find out when you examine the book – InshAllah Taala.
This book is akin to a sword striking the neck of every unqualified claimant to being a Shaykh in this time. This book will bankrupt him because he will find that he is divorced from the akhlaq of righteous people just as snake sheds its skin.
I know a group of people who have become aware of this book and are grieved, if it was possible for them to steal it and delete its contents they would do so out of fear that a person who holds them in esteem will read it and as a result change their view regarding them when they see that they do not possess the akhlaq of the righteous people whom they claim to be the deputies of.
It is more appropriate that they had rejoiced and been happy at its being written for all of it is sincere advice, and they will not find anyone in this age who will give the likes of this advice.”
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Shaykh Muhammad Ashiq Phulati mentions the following in the biography of his teacher Shah Waliullah al-Dihlawi (Qawl a-Jalli p.52-53):
Point of benefit: When the desire to undertake travel to the Haramain Sharifain (May Allah increase them both in nobility and honour!) occurred and this blessed resolve became firm, in Rabi al-Akhir 1143 hijri he (Shah Waliullah) set off in the company of his elder maternal uncle Shaykh Ubaydullah (May Allah Taala protect them) via the route of Lahore.
During this blessed journey wherever they came across a tomb (mazar) of a wali they would go to it and spend a little time there, and whichever nisbat the wali possessed would become apparent to him which he would then explain in detail.
When they reached Panipat they visited the tomb of Shah Bu Ali Qalandar, Shah Shams Turk and Shah Jalal (Allah sanctify their secrets). After this after reaching Sirhind they visited the tomb of Hazrat Mujaddid Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi and from there they went to Lahore and the tomb of Shaykh Ali Hujwiri (Allah sancitify his secret).
They then reached Multan where they visited the shrine of Makhdum Baha al-Din and Shah Rukn Alam (Allah sanctify their secrets) and he proceeded to detail the spiritual states (ahwal) of each person.
In the city of Multan most of the students of knowledge took the pledge of spiritual allegiance (bayat) and received instruction on spiritual exercises to perform. Some even attained the station of “spiritual ecstasy” from merely one blessed spiritual gaze and only came to their senses after some time. Some others began to shout ecstatically without being able to control themselves .
At the time of Shah Waliullah’s departure most peoples state was that they were insistent on leaving friends and family behind and departing with him. However Hazrat-e-Aqdas keeping in mind what was best consoled everyone and then departed.
Please find below a pdf of a primer on the science hadith which is based on two works of the recent great Meccan hadith specialist: Sayyid Muhammad bin Alawi al-Maliki. This text was prepared for the second year students of the Alimiyyah programme being run in High Wycombe by the Karima al-Marwaziyya Foundation. Alhumdulillah a group of approximately 20 students completed the study of this text this academic year, may Allah Taala grant them and us tawfiq and taysir in all of our studies.
I found the following from Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq, the great Shaykh of the Shadhili tariqah who said in his book Uddat al-Murid al-Sadiq:
“I heard a person saying whilst indicating to himself:
‘Every Shaykh who does not guarantee for his murid [that he will help him] in three places – meaning at the time of death, at the time of being questioned [in the grave] and on the bridge [sirat] – is a fraud.’
This is an immense affliction! this is because the state of the Shaykh in these three places is unknowable, likewise the state of all of the creation, and the next world will be a day where Masters will not be able to help each other nor can they be sought help from – except those whom Allah bestows His mercy upon! The supplication of the Messengers upon the Sirat will be “Allahumma sallim sallim” so how can other than the Messengers possess that which they do not? May Allah protect us from this disgraceful matter and lying against Him. This is a great tribulation and mistake which has occurred from this person, and this is due to his ignorance, good opinion of himself and love of leadership. Added to this is his eating in the name of the religion, accompanying the oppressors, giving preference to the rich over the poor and those who hold him in esteem over those who do not…”
Please find below an extract from a work showing the difference in approach of the classical Hanbali scholars and modern day scholars of the Salafi Movement of Najd.
Imam Ibn Aqil al-Hanbali (d.513 hijri) said in his fiqh work al-Tadhkirah regarding what a person should say when visiting the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in Madina the Illuminated,
“O Allah, I turn to you by means of Your Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), the Prophet of Mercy. O Messenger of Allah! I turn by means of you to my Lord to forgive my sins. O Allah I ask You by his right that You forgive my sins.”
1. Shaykh Nasir Salamah, the editor of this text (and a Qadi at a Shariah court in Saudi Arabia at the time of publishing) footnotes this statement with the following,
“Seeking dua from the Prophets and other than them such as the Awliyah and seeking help from them after their passing away is Shirk al-Akbar…”
2. This extract clearly highlights the divergence in approach of the classical Hanbalis and the Salafi scholars of the Najd.
3. Does Shaykh Nasir Salamah and other Salafi scholars regard Imam Ibn Aqil al-Hanbali to have left the folds of Islam? According to their principles of takfir recorded in Durar al-Saniyyah and other works Imam Ibn Aqil al-Hanbali was not Muslim as he committed Shirk al-Akbar on a clear cut issue and had access to the Quran and Sunnah and thus has no excuse.
One of the hidden elderly scholarly gems in the city of Mecca is Shaykh Abdul Qadir Dabwan, someone I have had the fortune to visit for several years now since coming to know of him. It occurred to me on a visit to Mecca several years ago to ask about the students of the great Shaykh Abdullah al-Lahji, someone who I (and numerous others) love dearly for his phenomenal commentary on the Shamail. When I asked our teacher Shaykh Khalid al-Turkestani about students of Shaykh al-Lahji, he replied, “The senior most living student in Mecca is Shaykh Abdul Qadir Dabwan, he has an itr shop near the Haram belonging to the Abdul Qadir Qurashi chain, more than this I do not know as I don’t have a contact number for him.” This information was sufficient for me, and after the process of elimination and visiting a number of itr shops around the Haram al-Makki by the grace of Allah (Most High) I managed to locate Shaykh Abdul Qadir’s shop. One of the texts he gifted me was the 40 hadith collection of his teacher written for the students of the Sawlatiyyah school. Please find below a pdf of a translation of this text alongside explanatory footnotes I compiled for the aid of teachers. This text received a small private print of 100 copies in 2011 from the Karima al-Marwaziyya Foundation and was studied in High Wycombe in the Ramadan of that year.
From the blurb of the first edition is the following:
Shaykh Abdullah bin Saeed al-Lahji was born in Hadramawt, Yemen in 1343 Hijri. He studied extensively with a number of scholars in his native Yemen before coming to Makkah to perform Hajj in 1374 Hijri. He stayed for a year and in 1377 Hijri moved permanently to Makkah where he resided until he passed away in 1410 Hijri aged 67 years old.
During his time in Makkah he taught in the historic Al-Sawlatiyyahschool for 23 years as well as being honoured with teaching in the Masjid al-Haram.
Shaykh al-Lahji had a number of students, but is perhaps best known in scholarly circles for his amazing handwritten 2,200 page, four volume commentary on Qadi Yusuf al-Nabhani’s work on the Prophetic Shamail.
These 40 hadith were compiled by him for students of the Sawlatiyyah school, and was published during his lifetime. We hope this text will also be of benefit to English speaking students.
Please find below a downloadable pdf of our publication of the Bayquniyyah poem on hadith terminology along with the notes of Shaykh Hasan al-Mashat (1899-1980), one the recent great Maliki Ashari scholars of Mecca (picture above). Alhumdulillah we were able to pass on this work to some of the students of Shaykh Hasan who are still living in the sacred city and who read extensively with him and benefited from his tarbiyah. We hope this work is of use and benefit to students of the sacred sciences.