Archive for October, 2006

Muslim Songs of the British Isles

October 28, 2006


Loving The Beloved of Allah

October 27, 2006

Loving The Beloved of Allah
By Shagufta Yaqub, Q News, the Muslim magazine, Issue 326 Jan 2000

Once in a while you meet someone you know you will never forget. There is something about being in their presence that draws you into their world. For the moments spent in their company, you begin to see the world through their eyes. Their passion for what they believe is manifest in the aura that surrounds them and their sincerity conveyed in words that linger in your thoughts for days on end.

Shaykh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi is one of those rare people. For a man who is uncomfortable with praise, I struggle to convey what it meant to have received the gift of sacred knowledge from such a worthy possessor. Only those who are blessed by his company will know what, out of respect for his humility, has to remain unsaid.

Descending from a scholarly Syrian family whose lineage goes back to the Holy Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Shaykh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi is not the most obvious of teachers for your average Western student. Son of the late Shaykh Ibrahim al-Ya’qoubi, former Imam of the Grand Omayyad Mosque in Damascus, Shaykh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi’s Islamic education began in early childhood. I asked him to tell me more about his background, but he politely replied by saying it is not one of his favourite subjects.

“I fear being trapped in a state of showing off” he said, leaving me amazed that even a man of such humility fears his own ego. “We all experience success and failure in our lives, but we tend to highlight the ups and avert the downs” he continued, claiming that feeling pride at one’s achievements is intrinsic in human nature. “But Islam purifies the heart from such whims by training us through acts of worship” he added.

Hesitantly he answered my question, informing me about his father of whom he speaks with the utmost love and respect. “Under the grace of Allah, I was fortunate to be the son of one of the greatest Ulema and friends of Allah in this century. My father was not only a great scholar of Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, Arabic and the sciences related to them but also a great gnostic and ascetic who combined knowledge and practice; his life was a living example of the great Salaf of whom we read in history.”

The huge impact of his father’s presence on Shaykh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi’s life soon became apparent. He told me that one of the most amazing things that struck him in his early childhood was his father’s immense love for the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his Sunnah. Testimony of that fact is evident in his life-long commitment to preserving the example of the Holy Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Even today, Shaykh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi’s possession of that inherited treasure leaves a lasting impression on anyone honoured enough to spend a few blessed moments in his company.

My short but memorable time as his student bestowed upon me the honour of hearing the Shaykh relate Ahadith about the appearance and character of the Holy Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He would sit tirelessly for hours on end telling us Hadith after Hadith, barely pausing for breath in between. Not only would he rigorously explain to us their meaning in English but he would first relate them in Arabic in order to give us the baraka of the original words even though many of us did not understand them. When telling us how the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sat or how he licked his fingers after eating, the Shaykh would unreservedly demonstrate the actions, driven to detailed emulation out of his love for Allah’s Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Whenever he mentioned the name of Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, his face would reflect his internal state of deep reverence. It was one of the few times I ever saw someone’s face illuminate with overwhelming love for the person they were describing.

I dared to ask the Shaykh to disclose his secret, posing to him the golden question of ‘what it means to love the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.’ Anticipating his response, I wondered how anyone could possibly answer such a question. But for the one who truly knows and loves the beloved of Allah, the answer is simple. “To love the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam means to obey him” replied the Shaykh. “Love without following is meaningless,” he said. “It is an easy thing to claim but difficult to prove because real love manifests itself in actions, not in words.”

The Shaykh then went on to explain that emulation is dependent on knowledge and emphasised our duty to learn more about the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. “Read about his life, his miracles, his character and the characteristics that were specific to him and not shared by his Ummah” he advised. “Read how the Sahaba loved him more than they loved everything else, how they emulated him and sacrificed their beloved for his sake” he urged. “There are countless Hadiths that enumerate his miracles and describe his character, the study of which should move stones, let alone hearts.”

The Shaykh reminded me of our obligation to love and obey the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam by referring to verses commanding this explicitly in the Quran:

“Say: if your fathers, sons, brothers, spouses, clans, wealth you accumulated, business you fear may slacken and houses you love, is more beloved to you than Allah, His Messenger and than struggling for His sake, then beware and wait until Allah brings His command” (9:24).

“He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah” (4:80).

“But no, by your Lord, they will not believe until they make you judge of what is in dispute between them, and find within themselves no dislike of that which you decide, and submit with full submission” (4:65).

It is perhaps the lack of adherence to this essential obligation of our deen that has led great scholars like Shaykh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi to dedicate their lives to reviving this tradition. He told me that Muslims living in the West generally have inadequate knowledge of the rights that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has over them. “The basic knowledge that people have about the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam these days is less than minimum” he said. “In the past, people would memorise the Hamziyya of al-Imam al-Busayri at an early age, which sums up in verse the life of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, his character and his miracles, including many details of which modern readers are unaware.”

It is this desperate need to revive the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that brings the few traditional scholars who are fluent in English to come and teach in the Western world. “Youth in the West love movie stars and football players to the extent that they emulate them and follow their news and are completely obsessed by their habits,” he said.

“Unfortunately, many of our children and youth are following this mainstream, so we have to provide them with an example to follow in order to save them from falling into this material life” he said. “And who is better than the infallible, the perfect human being, the Light, the Elect, the Seal of all Prophets, the one who was sent but as a mercy, the one who intercedes on the Day of Judgement when all Prophets refuse to intercede, the one who was given the basin, the one who is mentioned in the call for prayer, the one whom we greet in the prayer itself, the most beloved man, to whom a branch of a tree wailed, to whom a few pebbles testified and whom the stones and trees greeted?”

The love with which the Shaykh speaks of the Holy Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is something that fails to be conveyed in words and makes me appreciate the fact that books can never compare to the experience of learning directly from a scholar. I decided to ask the Shaykh how he feels about Muslims resorting to books and modern mediums like the internet for getting their Islamic knowledge. “Seeking the sacred knowledge of Islam is a noble act of worship that entitles people to martyrdom” he answered, putting the issue into perspective. He then went on to remind me how sacred knowledge was acquired in the history of Islam.

“Our beloved Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was the first teacher, and his first students were the Sahaba” he said. “Those early Sahaba devoted their lives to the transmission of this knowledge and were the first inheritors of the Prophet’s heritage sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This process of teaching and learning the Deen in mosques and traditional madrassas was the only way in the Islamic world through which the Deen survived. Only by humbling themselves and sitting on their knees in front of the great Ulema was the spirit of this Deen, with the blessings as well as the knowledge supported by authentic narration, able to be preserved ” he said.

” The great Ulema – Imam al-Tahawi, Qadi ‘Iyadd, al-Ghazali, Ibn al-Nawawi, al-‘Asqalani, al-Suyouti, their teachers and their students until our day – were all part of this unbroken chain of transmission” he said, describing the chain “like a tree, the shadow of whose branches extend from India to Morocco.”

The Shaykh’s reference to this chain of transmission reminded me of something beautiful he said in one of my first lessons with him. He said that when the Sahaba would sit with the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, they would breathe the same air that he breathed. So when the Sahaba transmitted sacred knowledge, they would also be transmitting those breaths of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that were then passed down from teacher to student, generation after generation, until the present day. Shaykh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi belongs to that unbroken chain of transmission. It is no doubt one of the reasons his students can feel the baraka of merely being in his presence.

The lack of baraka in modern mediums is not the only reason why relying on them for sacred knowledge may be undesirable. The Shaykh pointed out that it can be dangerous for people to rely on their own understanding of the Quran and Sunnah. “People vary in their levels of the Arabic language, and not everyone has access to all the resources, and even if they do, they are more prone to error” he warned. “Modern media like TV and the internet provide answers to many problems that people are facing nowadays, but it is not always safe for a person to rely on these sources and deduce their own rulings or apply the ruling quoted on the internet to their own state” he said.

The Shaykh stressed the point that learning from a shaykh is indispensable. I asked him to explain why, and he gave me a number of reasons. “First of all because of the guidance that one receives. We do not learn merely for the purpose of learning; we learn to practice. Knowledge without practice is like a dead body or like an empty cloud; it is the shaykh who awakens the students from their occasional slumber and who turns their attention to their defects” he said.

“Secondly, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was made an example for Muslims to follow, and his companions emulated him in his acts and character. Thus the company of the Ulema gives us access to the living example of the Sunnah and the prophetic character in as much as they emulate the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam” he said.

“Thirdly, when you study under a shaykh you are linked to a chain of transmission which constitutes your lineage back to the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This is the Isnad (transmission) of which ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak says: ” Isnad is an integral part of this Deen; without Isnad whosoever says whatsoever he wants.” The Shaykh also quoted Imam al-Tirmidhi who ended his great work on the character of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam with a narration from Muhammad Ibn Sireen that reads: “This knowledge is an integral part of the Deen, so see to it from where you obtain your Deen.”

However, the Shaykh also advised having a small library in our homes containing some of the most important manuals on Quran, Hadith, Fiqh and Seerah. He gave examples of these as “The Revival of the Sciences of the Deen” by Imam al-Ghazali and “Riyadh al-Saliheen” by Imam al-Nawawi both of which he considers essential reading. I then took the opportunity to ask what exactly we can read in the English language to increase our love and knowledge of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and he recommended two important works: “Al-Shama’il” of al-Tirmidhi, and “Al-Shifa” of al-Qadi ‘Iyadd. “Historically, there were permanent chairs devoted to teaching these two works in most central mosques in the big Muslims cities around the world” he pointed out. Optimistically, he looks to a time when this will be the case here in the West. “Let us revive this tradition today and make special endowments to the teaching of these great works in central mosques here in the West in order to breathe the love for the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam into the hearts of people so that they may be granted his company in Paradise” he prayed.

At the mention of Paradise, the Shaykh referred to a Hadith. “According to the glad tidings the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam brought to a man who came asking about the Hour, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked him ‘what have you prepared for it?’ The man replied ‘not much prayer or fasting [i.e. extras], but I do love Allah and His Messenger.’ The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said ‘a person will be with whom he loves.’

The Hadith reminded me of something the Shaykh said to us, his students, after our last lesson in the course. As he departed, he pleaded of his tearful students that if any of them enter Paradise and find that he is left behind on the Day of Judgement that they come back, take him by the hand and lead him into Jannah. That this request could come from someone whom in the eyes of his students is among the most deserving of Paradise is a thought that still overwhelms our hearts. To feel the sincerity in the desperate plea of a man to whom our hearts testify as deserving of the reciprocated love of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam reminds us that an increase in knowledge should never be without an increase in humility.

It is from the baraka of being taught by a Shaykh from the unbroken chain that genuine love, humility and those blessed breaths of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam are transmitted with the sacred knowledge. Somewhere in between those beautiful moments spent learning the Islamic sciences, his students are also taught what it means to feel love for someone purely for the sake of Allah and His Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It is no coincidence that those who know Shaykh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi also know to love him. After all, the Holy Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam himself used to pray: “Oh Lord, grant me Your love, and the love of those whom You love, and the love of those who will bring me closer to Your love.”

Copyright © Q-News International. Permission to reproduce granted only if article is reproduced in full with full credit to Q-News.

Imam Muhammad Sharafuddin al-Busiri ash-Shadhili (rahmatullah alayh)

October 26, 2006

Biograpy of Imam Muhammad Sharafuddin al-Busiri ash-Shadhili (rahmatullah alayh)

Sultan `Abd al-Hamid’s poem in Praise of the Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم

October 24, 2006

Sultan `Abd al-Hamid’s poem in praise of the Prophet was engraved in the year 1191 (1777 C.E.) on the walls of the Prophet’s hujra in his mosque in Madina. The enemies of the Prophet covered up several of the verses with paint so that they could not be read, sparing what suited them, but the poem has been preserved in other ways. It can be found in the book Mir’at al-haramayn by Sabri Basha the last Shaykh al-Islam of the Ottoman state, and the Shaykh of Mecca Ibn `Alawi al-Maliki reproduced it in his recent book Shifa’ al-fu’ad bi ziyarat khayr al-`ibad (The healing of the heart with the visitation of the best of Allah’s servants). Here is the text in full, with an asterisk indicating each verse that was painted over:

1.* ya sayyidi ya rasulallahi khudh bi yadi

ma li siwaka wa la alwi `ala ahadi

O my master, O Messenger of Allah, take my hand:

I have none besides you, nor will I pause to rely on anyone but you.

2.* fa anta nur al-huda fi kulli ka’inatin

wa anta sirru al-nada ya khayra mu`tamadi

For you are the light of guidance in everything that exists

and you are the secret of munificence and the best reliance.

3.* wa anta haqqan ghiyathu al-khalqi ajma`ihim

wa anta hadi al-wara lillahi dhi al-madadi

And you are in truth the helper of all creation,

and you are the guide of mortals to Allah, Owner of help.

4. ya man yaqumu maqam al-hamdi munfaridan

li al-wahidi al-fardi lam yulad wa lam yalid

O you who stand on the Station of Praise, singled out

by the One Who is Single, Who is not begotten and does not beget.

5. ya man tafajjarat al-anharu nabi`atan

min isba`ayhi fa rawwa al-jaysha dha al-`adadi

O you from whose fingers rivers burst forth

so that he quenched the thirst of the numerous army.

6.* inni idha samani daymun yurawwi`uni

aqulu ya sayyida al-sadati ya sanadi

Verily, if I am faced with harm and fearful injustice

I say: O Master of masters, O my support!

7.* kun li shafi`an ila al-rahmani min zalali

wamnun `alayya bi ma la kana fi khaladi

Be my intercessor with the Merciful regarding my mistakes

and grace me with what eludes my heart.

8.* wanzur bi `ayn al-rida li da’iman abadan

wastur bi fadlika taqsiri mada al-amadi

And look upon me always and ever with kind eyes,

and cover with your favor my shortcomings all my life.

9.* wa`tuf `alayya bi `afwin minka yashmuluni

fa innani `anka ya mawlaya lam uhaddi

Kindly bestow on me encompassing forgiveness

for from you, O my master, I was never separated.

10.* inni tawassaltu bi al-mukhtari ashrafi man

raqa al-samawati sirri al-wahid al-ahadi

I have sought as my means the elect one, the noblest of any

that ascended the heavens, the secret of the Unique One —

11. rabbu al-jamali ta`alallahu khaliquhu

fa mithlahu fi jami` al-khalqi lam ajidi

O Lord of beauty! Exalted is Allah Who created him,

for such as him in all creation I have never seen —

12. khayru al-khala’iqi a`la al-mursalina dhuran

dhukhru al-anami wa hadihim ila al-rashadi

The best of creatures, the apex of Messengers,

the treasure of humankind and their guide to integrity!

13.* bihi iltaja’tu la`allallaha yaghfiru li

hadha al-ladhi huwa fi zhanni wa mu`taqadi

In him I have taken refuge: perhaps Allah will forgive me.

This is what I count on and firmly believe.

14. fa madhuhu lam yazal da’bi mada `umri

wa hubbuhu `inda rabbi al-`arshi mustanadi

Therefore his tireless praise shall never cease to be my task

and love of him sustains me in the presence of the Lord of the Throne.

15. `alayhi azka salatin lam tazal abadan

ma` al-salami bila hasrin wa la `adadi

Upon him the purest of endless blessings without cease

together with greetings that cannot be stemmed nor counted

16. wa al-ali wa al-sahbi ahli al-majdi qatibatin

bahri al-samahi wa ahl al-judi wa al-madadi

And upon his Family and Companions, a glorious folk all,

The ocean of forgiveness, the people of generosity and aid!

Istanbul’s Illuminated Ramadan Nights

October 21, 2006

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s excellent essay on Istanbul’s Illuminated Ramadan Nights


Some religious Turkish Music



‘INTERCEDE O MESSENGER OF GOD صلي الله عليه و سلم

Imām Ibn Áābidīn Shāmī (rahmatullah alayh)

October 20, 2006

An excellent biography of Sayyidina Imam Ibn Áābidīn (rahmatullah alayh) penned by Shaykh Ábd al-Jalīl Áţā (rahmatullah alayh) translated into the English by Sidi Abu Hasan

For those who can read Arabic, Sayyidi Ala Hadrat Imam Ahmad Rida Khan’s (rahmatullah alayh) Sharah/Hashiya of Radd al-Muĥtār entitled Jadd Al Mumtar Ala Radd Al Muhtar is available on the following link.


October 20, 2006

QTV from Pakistan

Manaqib Ashab al-Badriyyin

October 6, 2006

An excellent site, May Allah reward the people behind it, Ameen.

Manaqib Ashab al-Badriyyin” is a compilation that rhythmically chants the virtues and exploits of the noble Companions (Allah be well pleased with them) of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) who took part in the battle of Badr. It is widely read in the Far East, Sri Lanka and South India on the 17th of Ramadan and at other times.

Traditionally, the battle of Badr was commemorated on the night of the 17th of Ramadan in the Muslim lands by recollecting the favours of Allah on that elect group of souls, singing their noble praises, reciting their blessed names and making ardent supplications to Allah, the Exalted, by using them as a means.

At a time when the Ummah is in need of much Divine Mercy and Blessing, it is our hearfelt wish that the commemoration of the battle of Badr is revived. The remembrance of Allah’s favours imbues tranquility to fearful hearts and strengthens the resolve of believing minds.

The Manaqib is a text that effects the above traits. It begins with Surahs and Ayahs from the Qur’an and a short Du’a. This is followed by a series of Hikayats and Qasidas praising the Companions of Badr and the benefits their blessed names accrue by the leave of Allah. Thereafter, their names are recited and used as Waseela in the Du’a made to Allah.

This website has the complete Manaqib in Arabic for download. An English translation of the kitab is also presented for the benefit of readers. Finally, a traditional South Indian rendition of the Qasidas have been included to introduce this flavour of recital to Muslims in the West.

May Allah give us the Tawfiq to recite the Manaqib and accrue the many benefits associated with it. May He cause us to rise up in the company of the blessed Companions of Badr who will be uniting again under the banner of the seal of the Prophets (Allah bless him and give him peace) on the Day of Reckoning.