Archery has over the past few years become increasingly popular amongst the Muslim community in the UK. This is primarily due to several Prophetic narrations regarding the virtue of this activity such as:
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,
“Whoever learns archery and then leaves it is not from amongst us, and has done wrong.” (Sahih Muslim 1919)
And the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,
“Whoever learns archery but then forgets it, then it is regarded as a blessing which has been lost.” [Tabarani in Al-Awsat]
These above narrations along with a number of others can be found in Imam Murtada al-Zabidi’s work listing his students and teachers entitled Mujam al-Mukhtas. Whilst looking through this book (p.536 onwards) I was interested to find a lengthy ijazah an expert bowyer (the term used for a person who makes bows) asked him to write on their behalf regarding the issue of archery and more specifically the art of bow making. Imam al-Zabidi after mentioning several narrations regarding the virtue of archery (including the above) wrote on behalf of Ali bin Abdullah al-Rumi (the Mawla of Ahmad Katakhda Salih) saying:
It is established that the first person who practised archery with an Arabian bow was Adam (upon him salutations and peace), for Gibril (Upon him be peace) descended from Paradise with a bow, a bowstring and two arrows in his hand, which he passed to him and taught him how to practise archery. It was then passed on to Ibrahim (Upon him be peace) and then on to his son Ismail (upon him be peace) at whom the chain of transmission (isnad) of the scholars of this science ends. This being the case…I issue this specific license (ijazah) to him (Hasan bin Abdullah Mawla Ali) in this noble art, with the witnessing of the brethren, just as I was authorised by the Shaykh, the pious complete expert, the deceased: Abdullah Effendi bin Muhammad al-Busnawi, on the basis of his taking from his Shaykh, the deceased, al-Haj Ali al-Albani, from his Shaykh Muhammad al-Istanbuli with his continuous chain to Abdur Rahman al-Fazari and the Imam, the author of al-Ikhtiyar and author of al-Idah, better known as al-Tabari, on the basis of both of them taking from the well known Imams of this art: Tahir al-Balkhi, Ishaq al-Rafa, Ibn Hashim al-Barudi by means of their continuous chains via Shaykh from Shaykh until it reaches Sayyiduna Ismail (Upon him be peace).